Back to FAQ for FQXi

In efforts to streamline its programs, FQXi now directs grants through a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. FQXi continues to offer its Mini-Grant and Large Grant programs, soliciting and reviewing applications for these grants (in the case of the Large Grant, FQXi convenes expert review panels). On the basis of these reviews, FQXi advises the DAF on what grants to make. After grants have been made by the DAF, FQXi will work with the DAF to monitor the grantee’s performance via grant reports. In this way, researchers will continue to interact with FQXi, while the DAF interacts mostly with the researchers’ institutes’ administrative/grants management office. For this reason, our website refers to the Mini-Grants and Large Grants as FQXi grant programs administered by a DAF. With this setup, FQXi will be able to focus its work more on outreach and education, while the DAF administers the grantmaking program.

Frequently Asked Questions about our grant programs:

Large Grants
  • What are FQXi "Mini-Grants"?

    What are some acceptable uses of awarded grant funds?
    • Student or postdoctoral salary and benefits for part of the academic year
    • Summer salary and teaching buyout for academics
    • Support for specific projects during sabbaticals
    • Assistance in writing or publishing books
    • Modest allowance for justifiable lab equipment, computers, publication charges, and other supplies
    • Modest travel allowance
    • Development of large workshops, conferences, or lecture series for professionals (Note that small programs of this type, and others costing less than US $10K, are best supported by an FQXi mini-grant.)
    • Development of outreach or educational programs for laypeople that disseminate knowledge regarding foundational questions in physics and cosmology (The impact criterion, in this case, will be judged on the proposal's ability to disseminate knowledge rather than develop it. Note that small programs of this type are best supported by an FQXi mini-grant.)
    • Overhead of at most 15%
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    Does FQXi have a preferred philosophical or scientific agenda?

    No. We are equally interested in all proposals with great promise and talent falling within the FQXi purview.

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    Who is eligible for grants?

    Researchers and outreach specialists working in academic and other non-profit institutions are eligible.

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    Can researchers from outside the U.S. apply?

    Yes, applications will be welcomed from any country. However, payments from the DAF must comply with the U.S. Patriot Act. If compliance is a concern for your institution, please investigate your options with the appropriate personnel before investing time in writing a Full Proposal.

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    How and when do we apply?

    Please see the Grants section of our website for the latest information.

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    What is your policy on overhead?

    The highest allowed overhead rate is 15%.

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    Is there a fixed amount of funding for each topical area?

    No. Although the distribution of funds across subject areas will be driven in large part by the quality of proposals received, a goal of the review process will be to advise funding of a diverse body of research that spans the small and the large, and ranges from the elementary to the complex.

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    Can you give me any guidance on my research proposal, and on whether or not our project fits within the funding vision?

    Please see our Request for Proposals for examples of projects that are likely, possibly, and not likely to be recommended for funding. Occasionally, FQXi may provide feedback on Initial Proposals invited for a Full Proposal, and limited advice during the preparation of the Full Proposal. Please keep in mind that however positive FQXi may be about a proposal at any stage, it may still be turned down after peer review.

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    Can I submit multiple proposals?

    We will consider multiple Initial Proposals from the same PI; however, we will invite at most one Full Proposal from each PI or closely associated group of applicants.

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    What if I am unable to submit my application electronically?

    Only applications submitted through the form on our website are accepted. If you encounter problems, please contact the FQXi Program Officer, Kavita Rajanna, at

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    Is there a maximum amount of money for which we can apply?

    No. You may apply for as much money as you think is necessary to achieve your goals. However, you should carefully justify your proposed expenditure. Keep in mind that projects will be assessed on potential impact per dollar requested; an inappropriately high budget may harm the proposal's prospects, effectively pricing it out of the market. Reviewers are authorized to suggest budget adjustments.

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    What will an average award be?

    We expect that research awards will typically be in the range of $50,000-$150,000 total over the life of the award, with outreach awards substantially smaller.

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    What are the reporting requirements?

    Grantees will be asked to submit annual progress reports. Renewal of multi-year grants will be contingent on satisfactory demonstration in these reports that the supported research is progressing appropriately, and continues to be consistent with the spirit of the original proposal.

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    What are the qualifications for a Principal Investigator?

    Since this is a program run by researchers for researchers, FQXi may be a bit more flexible than traditional funding agencies in the definition of a Principal Investigator; thus, we may accept applications from postdoctoral fellows as the PI or a co-investigator if his/her institution allows this. Should a postdoctoral fellow be invited to submit a Full Proposal, s/he must obtain co-signatures on the proposal from the department head, as well as a department host with a post extending the duration of the grant.

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    My colleague(s) and I would like to apply as co-PIs. Can we do this?

    At this time, the online application form only allows for one PI. Please choose one investigator to be the primary contact; on the application form, designate this individual as the "PI," and all other individuals(s) as "co-investigators". Then, please include a sentence in your project summary specifying your wish for certain individuals to be officially considered as co-PIs.

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    Can I apply for funds for PhD student research assistantships?

    Yes. However, because of the unconventional nature of the FQXi mission, full-time student support is discouraged. Potential students cannot directly apply for a studentship.

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    Will the grants pay for laboratory expenses?

    You may request modest lab expenses. FQXi will not advise funding for capital-intensive equipment.

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    I have a proposal for my usual, relatively mainstream research program that I may be able to neatly repackage as an appropriate proposal for FQXi. Sound OK?

    FQXi is very sensitive to the problem of "free money," the re-casting of an existing research program to make it appear to fit the overall thematic nature of this Request For Proposals. Such proposals will not be approved, nor approved for renewal if funded initially.

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    What are FQXi "Mini-Grants"?

    FQXI has initiated an on-going program administered by a Donor Advised Fund to fund small projects (approximately US$1-$10K, and very occasionally more) by FQXi Members. More information is here.

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