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Jim Simons: A Life of Scholarship, Leadership and Philanthropy

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Jim simons remembering

Google News Recentlyheard

Google News Recentlyheard

Beloved pal, beneficiant philanthropist, pioneering mathematician, and visionary chief James H. Simons died on Might 10 on the age of 86. 

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Jim was the chairman of Stony Brook’s math division from 1968-1978.

For six many years, Jim Simons was Stony Brook College’s most vocal champion. His instructing, analysis, tutorial and volunteer management, and philanthropy have perpetually reworked the college and his generosity of spirit was matched solely by his probing intelligence and profound optimism for the long run. Whether or not as chair of the Division of Arithmetic or his management on the Stony Brook Basis Board of Trustees, Jim at all times noticed Stony Brook’s potential. He seemed past what was and noticed what may be — and he helped deliver that future to life.  

“Jim was a outstanding pal and advocate, each to Stony Brook and to me personally. I’m honored to have identified him,” mentioned Stony Brook College President Maurie McInnis. “Stony Brook is extremely lucky to have been part of his life and to have shared in his generosity, brilliance, humor, and never-ending curiosity concerning the world round him. The College is infinitely higher due to Jim, from the scholars he taught to the analysis he led, the college he supported, and the applications he helped construct.”

An Enduring Impression

When Stony Brook President John Toll employed Jim to guide the Division of Arithmetic in 1968, he couldn’t have foreseen the magnitude of his determination. Because the youngest chair within the historical past of the college, Jim joked that he was given the chance as a result of he was the one one who would settle for the problem. Jim’s stereotypical humor apart, he introduced his curiosity and mind to bear on the position and constructed one of many nation’s high math departments throughout his 10-year tenure as chair.

 Jim unassumingly credited his success to the workforce he recruited: “I used to be in a position to rent some nice individuals…and we actually constructed up an excellent division. And that was enjoyable.” 

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Jim with C.N. Yang.

Certainly one of his most prized relationships was along with his colleague within the Division of Physics, Nobel Prize winner C.N. Yang and founding director of the eponymous Institute for Theoretical Physics on Stony Brook’s campus. Their many conversations impressed Jim’s deep curiosity within the intersection of geometry and physics, in the end resulting in the institution of the famend Simons Heart for Geometry and Physics (SCGP). 

“From Archimedes to Newton to Einstein, a lot of essentially the most profound work in physics has been deeply intertwined with the geometric facet of arithmetic,” mentioned Jim upon the 2008 announcement of the reward that will fund the SCGP. “Since then, specifically with the arrival of such areas as quantum area principle and string principle, developments in geometry and physics have turn out to be if something extra interrelated. The brand new Heart will give lots of the world’s greatest mathematicians and physicists the chance to work and work together in an atmosphere and an structure fastidiously designed to reinforce progress. We imagine there’s a probability that work completed on the Heart will considerably change and deepen our understanding of the bodily universe and of its primary mathematical construction.”

Since then, the SCGP has developed into an internationally famend assume tank whose everlasting members have been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society, the American Mathematical Society, the Japanese Nationwide Academy of Sciences, in addition to obtained the Fields Medal, Shaw Prize, Packard Fellowship, Clay Analysis Award and  Dannie Heineman Prize in addition to many different awards. 

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Jim with Richard Gelfond.

Past his tutorial management, Jim helped encourage the subsequent technology of volunteer leaders by means of his participation in and stewardship of the Stony Brook Basis Board of Trustees. 

“One of many nice privileges of my life has been to know and work with Jim Simons for the previous three many years,” mentioned Richard Gelfond ’76, Stony Brook Basis Board of Trustees Chair. “His service on the Board strengthened all of us. He had a manner of instantly attending to the elemental points and asking the best questions. His distinctive wit, unbelievable mind and philanthropy, notably towards Stony Brook, will at all times be remembered. I’ll miss him mightily.”

Philanthropy on an Astonishing Scale

Jim’s affect at Stony Brook extends far past his mental contributions. He met his spouse Marilyn by means of Stony Brook, and collectively they created a rare legacy of impactful philanthropy for the college that has surpassed $1 billion. As if their very own outstanding contributions weren’t sufficient, the Simons immediately impressed greater than 2,100 individuals to contribute a further $230 million in philanthropy for scholarships, school help, and the college’s endowment.

Via Jim and Marilyn’s foresight, strategic counsel, and funding, they’ve been instrumental in making Stony Brook a extremely ranked nationwide analysis college and an unmatched agent of progress and social mobility.

Examples of a few of Jim and Marilyn’s substantial investments embrace:

The Simons Heart for Geometry and Physics (SCGP), which opened at Stony Brook College in 2010 due to Jim and Marilyn’s philanthropic help and Jim’s perception that progress in arithmetic and theoretical physics could be made when researchers come collectively in an atmosphere that encourages the sharing of concepts, bridging divides and growing innovation. 

Along with the middle, the Simons established the Simons Math and Physics Working Funds to make sure that Stony Brook’s Arithmetic and Physics departments constantly rank among the many high within the nation.

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Jim and Marilyn Simons on the Renaissance College of Medication.

The Simons additionally performed a big position in elevating what’s now the famend Renaissance College of Medication. Via an identical problem reward introduced in 2011, Jim and Marilyn reworked analysis throughout a number of areas of the medical and life sciences. Finally, their matching reward and the philanthropy it impressed offered important funding for analysis excellence within the College of Medication in addition to different elements of the college, school hires by means of new endowed professorships, and recruitment of top-level graduate and undergraduate college students. Because of this historic funding, Stony Brook was in a position to construct the Heart for Medical and Analysis Translation (MART). 

Introduced in late 2020, the Presidential Innovation and Excellence Fund has enabled Stony Brook to draw preeminent students, pursue cutting-edge analysis, and win management of the Heart for Local weather Options on Governors Island by means of the New York Local weather Alternate.The Simons Basis offered seed cash for the fund, with an identical problem that attracted further philanthropy from different beneficiant donors. This fund makes it potential for Stony Brook to put money into present strengths and pursue large and daring alternatives that tackle the world’s most crucial challenges of the long run.

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The Stony Brook Simons STEM Students Program.

The Stony Brook Simons STEM Students Program welcomed its inaugural cohort in 2023. Spearheaded by David Spergel, president of the Simons Basis, and championed by Jim and Marilyn, this system supplies complete monetary help for among the nation’s most gifted college students to pursue undergraduate STEM levels at Stony Brook. By offering alternatives for traditionally underrepresented college students to hitch the frontlines of world STEM challenges, this life-changing expertise permits these distinctive students to turn out to be the change wanted on the earth at present.

Jim and Marilyn’s $500 million Simons Infinity Funding is the biggest unrestricted endowment reward in American greater training, and its affect on Stony Brook is anticipated to achieve $1 billion by means of matching contributions from New York State and different philanthropic leaders. Investments stemming from this reward could have a direct affect on the college’s skill to pursue new alternatives and supply pupil scholarships, endowed professorships, progressive analysis, and glorious scientific take care of generations into the long run. 

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The Richard E. Leakey Memorial Convention.

The Simons Basis supported Stony Brook’s partnership with Richard Leakey, serving to to determine the Turkana Basin Institute in 2012. The institute, which was initially constructed to help the examine of prehistory and human origins, now attracts researchers from all over the world from a number of disciplines who’re eager about learning the Turkana Basin’s distinctive panorama and making use of their findings to handle among the world’s greatest challenges. 

In help of the Stony Brook-led New York Local weather Alternate, the Simons Basis and Simons Basis Worldwide pledged $100 million as an identical reward and have impressed different main philanthropists and local weather options advocates to lend further help. As a coalition of the world’s main universities, companies, and group organizations, the Alternate might be a global hub of analysis, innovation, training, and collaboration to handle the worldwide local weather disaster.

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Simons Summer time Analysis Program.

Based in 1984, the Simons Summer time Analysis Program has helped greater than a thousand highschool college students conduct progressive analysis alongside esteemed school mentors.  

Via these initiatives and applications, Jim’s affect and affect spanned the tenure of former Stony Brook leaders John Toll, Jack Marburger, Shirley Strum Kenny, and Sam Stanley — and that affect lives on by means of the scholars, school, and analysis he enabled and thru the relationships he made.

“Jim was among the many most interesting individuals I’ve ever identified,” mentioned Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., MD. “His magnificent thoughts was enhanced by his imaginative and prescient and optimism. The end result was an incomparable chief and philanthropist who has helped present Stony Brook with infinite potentialities and the capability to achieve unparalleled heights within the areas of analysis, training and discovery. ”

“Jim was not solely mathematically good but additionally a visionary advisor about what Stony Brook may — and did — turn out to be,” Shirley Strum Kenny mentioned. “Stony Brook wouldn’t be Stony Brook with out Jim’s imaginative and prescient and dedication.”

The satisfaction of seeing Stony Brook thrive fueled their generosity, as Jim mirrored: “Stony Brook gave me an opportunity to guide —and so it has been deeply rewarding to observe the College develop and flourish much more.”

“Jim Simons leaves an incredible and incomparable legacy at Stony Brook College,” mirrored President McInnis. “His inquisitiveness, imaginative and prescient, caring, and extraordinary philanthropy have made an indelible and irreplaceable affect on each nook of the College. Via his generosity, his mind, and his management he’ll proceed to complement lives and advance science and information at Stony Brook for generations to come back.”

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