AI Accurately Predicts Effects of Genetic Mutations in Biological Dark Matter

Simons Foundation, July 2018

A new machine learning framework, dubbed ExPecto, can predict the effects of genetic mutations in the so-called “dark matter” regions of the human genome. ExPecto pinpoints how specific mutations can disrupt the way genes turn on and off throughout your body. Such disruptions in gene expression can sometimes have fatal consequences.

Scientific Leadership Profiles

Simons Foundation, June 2018

The Simons Foundation’s research and grant-making divisions are spearheaded by accomplished scientists. These individuals bring expertise, experience and creative thinking to overcoming the uncertainty involved in advancing research in mathematics and the basic sciences.

A collection of 12 short profiles on the Simons Foundation's scientific leadership. Part of the foundation's 2017 annual report.

Math For America: Summer Think

Simons Foundation, June 2018

Engaging students with chemistry sometimes means swapping beakers for spatulas. Math for America (MƒA) Master Teachers Hayeon Rachel Jun and Laryssa Kramarchuk blend science and the culinary arts in their classrooms. Lessons have students hand-churning ice cream, growing rock candy and quantifying the hotness of peppers, all while studying the underlying scientific properties of these materials.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.

Simons Collaboration On The Origins Of Life

Simons Foundation, June 2018

Roughly 4 billion years ago, the early Earth was an unfamiliar world. Large-impact craters pitted the planet’s surface, the sun glowed dimly, and the atmosphere was almost entirely devoid of oxygen. Yet from this extreme environment, the oldest known evidence of life appeared: Mound-like structures built by microbial communities, crystals containing isotopic traces of biological activity, and microfossils embedded in ancient rocks all hint at when the first earthlings emerged. But how Earth went from lifeless to lush remains uncertain.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.

Center For Computational Biology: HumanBase

Simons Foundation, June 2018

The human genome contains an estimated 19,000 genes. Those genes encode proteins that allow cells to carry out tasks such as ferrying oxygen molecules, fighting off diseases and communicating with fellow cells. But the function of most genes remains elusive, and scientists are still struggling to crack the human body’s full genetic code.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.

Center For Computational Astrophysics Neutron Star Mergers

Simons Foundation, June 2018

About 130 million light-years from Earth, the relics of two exploded stars neared the end of a spiraling, dyadic dance around each other. The dance partners were incredibly dense neutron stars: Just a teaspoonful of their neutron-rich star stuff has a mass of about 1 billion metric tons.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.

Center For Computational Quantum Physics

Simons Foundation, June 2018

From early stone tools to silicon computer chips, materials have defined humankind’s progress. Electrons, discovered in 1897, are chiefly responsible for the physical properties of molecules and materials. The behavior of these charged particles determines why some metals hold an edge whereas others are pliable, why some substances react and others are inert, and why some materials conduct electricity and others insulate.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.

Flatiron Institute Inaugural Celebration

Simons Foundation, June 2018

Within a brisk five-year period, the Simons Foundation’s new Flatiron Institute has grown from the germ of an idea floated at a foundation scientific retreat in 2012 to a large, bustling hub for developing computational methods. In a ceremony on September 6, 2017, Simons Foundation co-founders Jim and Marilyn Simons and keynote speaker New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined Flatiron Institute and Simons Foundation leaders to dedicate the new research division of the Simons Foundation. The event, held in the institute’s newly renovated lobby, celebrated early progress and hopes for the future.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.

Assembly of Massive Galaxy Cluster Witnessed for the First Time

Simons Foundation, April 2018

For the first time, astronomers have witnessed the birth of a colossal cluster of galaxies. Their observations reveal at least 14 galaxies packed into an area only four times the diameter of the Milky Way’s galactic disk. Computer simulations of the galaxies predict that over time the cluster will assemble into one of the most massive structures in the modern universe, the astronomers report in the April 26 issue of Nature.

Yuri Tschinkel Elected to German National Academy of Sciences

Simons Foundation, April 2018

Yuri Tschinkel, director of the Simons Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences division, has been elected to the Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences. The honor recognizes Tschinkel’s mathematical contributions, ­which focus on problems at the interface of algebraic geometry and number theory.