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How to Propose a Program at MSRI / SLMath

We invite the submission of proposals for full- or half-year programs to be held at SLMath (formerly MSRI). Planning of such programs is generally done about three years in advance. Except in extraordinary cases, a subject is the focus of a program not more than once in ten years. SLMath maintains a list of past and currently scheduled programs.

SLMath also invites the submission of proposals for Hot Topics workshops and Summer Graduate Schools.

A scientific program at SLMath generally consists of up to 9 months of concentrated activity in a specific area of current research interest in the mathematical sciences. SLMath usually runs two programs simultaneously, each with about forty mathematicians in residence at any given time. The most common program length is four months (typically in the form of a Fall or Spring semester program). Each program begins with the Connections and Introductory workshops, the purpose of which is to introduce the subject to the broader mathematical community. The programs receive administrative and financial support from the Institute, allowing organizers to focus on the scientific aspects of the activities.

Submission Deadlines

The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Institute meets in January, May and November each year to consider proposals for programs. The deadlines to submit Program proposals for review by the SAC are March 1st, October 1st and December 1st.


The initial step is often to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI). An LOI should state the areas that would be studied, the names of at least an important subset of the organizers, and the timeliness of the program. The LOI should indicate the preferred semester, as well as several alternative semesters. Note that for a program to be successful, three of the organizers must be in residence for the entire program. Inclusivity is an important part of SLMath's mission, and a diverse set of organizers is a good indication that the program would be able to reap the benefits of being inclusive. We strongly recommend that at least two organizers be US-based mathematicians, and that at least two organizers be women or members of groups underrepresented in the mathematical sciences. An LOI need not be more than 2-3 pages and will be reviewed at the SAC meetings in January, May or November.


Click HERE to download a sample preproposal.

If an LOI is reviewed favorably by the SAC, the organizers will be asked to submit a pre-proposal. Pre-proposals and proposals are developed in a collaborative process between the proposers, the Directorate and the SAC, and may be considered at more than one meeting of the SAC before selection.

The scientific planning and organization of each program are the responsibility of a committee of organizers (aided by a liaison of the Directorate and the SAC). Each program is allocated a budget for subsistence and travel expenses.

Pre-proposals, generally under 10 pages, are expected to include the following information:

Program Organizers
List the program organizers, their affiliations, and their anticipated length of stay. All programs must have at least three organizers in residence for the duration of the program. We strongly recommend that at least two organizers be US-based mathematicians, and that at least two organizers be women or members of groups underrepresented in the mathematical sciences. In our experience, when there is a diverse organizing committee, it generates a more diverse list of applicants and participants.

Scientific Description
The description should include a background of the topic, relationships with other parts of mathematics or other disciplines, goals and areas of potential progress, an outline of the proposed program's structure, proposed involvement of postdocs and interactions with other scientists, and why the proposal is particularly suited to SLMath. It is highly desirable that the program show the breadth of the mathematical field being treated, and take into special account its relation to other fields of mathematics and (in appropriate cases) other sciences and engineering. You may include a bibliography.

Planned Workshops
Every semester-long program will have three workshops: At the start of the program, there will be a Connections workshop, followed by an Introductory workshop. A topical workshop will be scheduled for some time later in the semester. At the pre-proposal stage, the only requirement is to indicate the topic of the topical workshop, though you are welcome to provide additional information including the organizing committee for each workshop.

Related Programs
Here one should list all programs, especially those held at US Math Institutes, that may have intersection with the proposed program. The intersection with your program should be explained as well as how your program would differ from the others and how strong is the intersection. If some programs seem to be intersecting yours but are quite different, it is good to mention it.

Key Participants
Identify potential key senior participants and their affiliations. A program should contain a significant component for postdoctoral fellows, including facilitating access to long-term senior visitors. We strive for diverse programs that include a strong representation of women, members of underrepresented minorities, and U.S. based researchers from a wide range of institutions.

Math Subject Classification and Keywords
The proposer should include primary and secondary Mathematics Subject Classification Codes as well as several keywords.

Preferred Semester
The pre-proposal should indicate the preferred semester, as well as several alternate semesters when the program could take place. Be sure to indicate and explain any constraints that you may have.

Copies of the preproposal will be distributed to the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), which is responsible for the selection of the programs. Proposers may be asked for further information or revisions pending final selection. The SAC meets in January, May and November of each year, and proposals are generally considered during the first such meeting after submission.


Click HERE to download a sample proposal.

In developing a proposal from a preproposal, the following should be considered:

Organizing Committee
Members of the organizing committee are expected to be in attendance for a significant portion of the program, and a commitment of this kind is required for a successful proposal. At least three organizers must commit to be in attendance the duration of the program. The proposal should indicate the organizers’ commitments of time.

Preferred Semester
Indicate your preferred semester, as well as several alternative semesters

Companion Program(s)
List proposed companion programs, potential organizers, and describe the ways in which the suggested companion program would pair well with the proposed program.

Key Participants
A spreadsheet of potential participants containing, for each participant, the Family Name, First Name, Email address, Home Institution, Country of Home Institution, Gender, and US citizen minority status (if applicable). SLMath will provide a template for this section.

Mentoring Plan
Describe how the postdoctoral fellows will be mentored.

Broadening Participation
The proposal must include a section describing in detail a plan to ensure the participation of women and underrepresented groups at the organizer and participant level, in both programs and workshops. This plan should include a list of potential participants among women and other underrepresented groups. A member of the organizing committee must be identified as the overseer of the plan. A member of the Broadening Participation Advisory Committee will be assigned to the program to work with the Human Resources designated organizer. The SLMath Broadening Participation Advisory Committee chairperson will receive a copy of approved proposals and may be invited to assist the organizing committee with this task. The list of anticipated participants should have at least 60% U.S. based researchers. It should also be noted that for the last 15 years, 30% of PhD recipients in mathematics have been women, with around 24% from Group I Institutions. Moreover, female faculty hires at Research I Universities have been on the rise. The latest statistics from AMS show that the percentage of female PhDs being hired by the Mathematics Departments at Research I Universities is at 24% (28% in public Research I Universities and 22% at Private Research I Universities). SLMath will provide a participant list spreadsheet to be completed by the organizers.

The organizing committees for each of the three workshops should have been selected. The workshop organizers can be selected from the mathematical community and need not be restricted to the organizers of the program. Again, it is an advantage to have a diverse organizing committee for each workshop.

  • Connections workshops have a long, successful history of encouraging early-career women and gender-expansive individuals in the profession. Held at the very beginning of semester-long or year-long programs at SLMath, these two-day workshops have three overarching goals: (1) to give accessible introductions to the main themes of the program and exciting new directions in related research; (2) to provide participants the opportunity to become acquainted with the work of women in the field; and (3) to connect early-career researchers, especially women, gender-expansive individuals, and minorities, to potential senior mentors. A typical workshop consists of introductory lectures, presentations by post-doctoral researchers and graduate students, and a panel discussion addressing the challenges faced by all young researchers, but especially by women, in establishing a career in mathematics. Throughout the workshops, special effort is made to foster mentoring relationships between established and early-career researchers at the lunches, dinners, and coffee breaks. The workshop organizers are also encouraged to propose week-end activities for small groups of women with similar research interests to discuss problems and perhaps to begin work on a joint research project (e.g. forming small research or study groups that would work on predetermined problems, read a paper, or learn new techniques). Participants of the Connections Workshop are encouraged to stay for the following week for the Introductory Workshop. Additionally, good coordination between the organizers of these two workshops is paramount to the success for both workshops as well as the program. For this reason, it is required to have one person be simultaneously on the organizing committees of both workshops. The proposal should contain an explicit description of the workshop, as well as the organizing committee and their affiliations, and potential speakers and their affiliations. As is the case for all SLMath workshops, registration to attend Connections workshop lectures is open to all interested persons.
  • Introductory Workshop: The Connections workshop is immediately followed by the Introductory Workshop, which is meant to set the stage and provide the context for the program, with the intended audience being researchers not in the program. This would include members in the other programs, members of the local mathematical community, and participants from outside the area selected especially for the workshop, particularly from groups underrepresented in research intensive contexts: women, minorities, mathematicians not located at research centers, and graduate students. In selecting participants, priority is given to these latter groups. When done well, these introductory workshops have been effective in broadcasting the goals, ideas and techniques of a particular program to the mathematical public at large, as well as in bringing the SLMath community together as a whole. The proposal should contain a description, the organizing committee and their affiliations, and potential speakers and their affiliations. The proposal must address how the organizers will ensure that the introductory workshop will be truly introductory.
  • Topical workshop: Lastly, sometime during the program a Topical workshop is held. Directed toward the mathematical community at large, topical workshops are designed to interest and attract young researchers and other mathematicians active in the field. The proposal should contain a title and description, the organizing committee and their affiliations, and potential speakers and their affiliations.

Captioned Image
A high-resolution, non-copywrited image pertinent to the subject of the program should be provided, as well as a caption for the image.

One Page Overview
A one page summary describing the program and its place in mathematics in general terms is required for posting on our website and distribution to sponsors. If possible it should have some simple graphic. It should be informative and attractive to an audience at the level of beginning graduate students. Successful examples of this genre are available for consultation.

Proposals can be submitted to the Director, Deputy Director, or any member of the Scientific Advisory Committee with a copy to proposals@slmath.org. The deadlines to submit program and workshop proposals for review by the SAC are March 1st, October 1st and December 1st.