Join SFI for a transformative learning experience in complex systems science.
General FAQs • Complex Systems Summer School FAQs • Complexity-GAINs International Summer Institute FAQs • Complexity Interactive FAQs • Graduate Workshop in Computational Social Science Modeling and Complexity FAQs • Undergraduate Complexity Research FAQs
We ONLY accept applications via the online application system, SurveyMonkey Apply. To initiate an application, click on the “Apply Now” box on the webpage for the program to which you wish to apply. You will be taken to our online application site. Create an account (following the instructions on the page). Your account will allow you to log in and access your application while the application process is open. You may edit your application until the deadline. See the webpage of each program for this year’s deadline.
No. We do not accept late applications.
The application supports recent versions of Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. It may work with other browsers, but please contact us if you encounter problems.
• Enter all required information and upload your application materials as specified on the application site
• If the application requires a Letter of Recommendation(s), it is THE APPLICANT’s responsibility to be sure that it has been uploaded by the deadline.
• Applicants may modify their materials until they hit the SUBMIT button (the final step).
• Please note that ALL DOCUMENTS uploaded to your application must be in PDF format. Be sure that the PDF is not locked or password-protected.
The deadline is 23:59 local Santa Fe, New Mexico (Mountain Time) on the date specified on the webpage of each program and on the application site. Be sure to check your time zone! This is a hard deadline and will not be extended.
When the deadline has passed, the system closes automatically and will not allow an applicant to begin, edit, or submit an application. Make sure you have all your application materials prepared with enough time to complete and submit them before the deadline.
NOTE: This includes letters of recommendation.
REMEMBER to SUBMIT: Applicants who have not completed and submitted their application will not be considered. Be sure to do the final step and SUBMIT the completed application for review. You will receive a confirmation email once your application is submitted.
Provide the email address(es) of your recommender(s) in the place specified for this within the application system. An email will be sent from 'email@example.com' with instructions for creating an account and uploading the Letter of Recommendation. Make sure you inform your recommender(s) about this email so that it does not get caught in a spam filter.
Be Aware: It is your responsibility to ensure your letter(s) have been submitted by the deadline. The deadline for letters is the same deadline as the application. It is important that you communicate directly with your recommenders so they have sufficient notice to prepare their letter and upload it, and that after they upload it, you have sufficient time to complete your application and press SUBMIT.
Check the application system to make sure all letters have been submitted on your behalf. If they have not been submitted, they show as PENDING. You can resend a letter request a second time, if needed, from the application site.
If your recommender is unable to submit their letter through the SMApply application system, please have them contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. The recommender should include the applicant’s name (as used in the application) in the subject line and attach a PDF of their letter to the message. This must be done at least 24 hours before the application deadline.
It is best to use one email address throughout the entire process. Notify email@example.com if you must change your email address during the process. Provide both the old and the new email address in your message. It is important that we have a current, valid email address, as this is the only form of communication we will use.
Once the application deadline has passed, each application is reviewed for completeness. A complete application contains all required information and materials as outlined in the application form. We will not notify you if your application is incomplete. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
Complete applications are submitted to the review committee for evaluation. Once all reviews are complete, we will contact you by email regarding your application status.
Applications undergo an in-depth, holistic review process. Each application is carefully considered for admission into the program. The number of applicants far exceeds the number of available positions each year. Inevitably, many talented applicants will not be invited to participate.
Decisions regarding admissions are final. We do not provide feedback on applications or any details of the application review. Applicants denied admission or waitlisted are encouraged to re-apply in subsequent years.
Yes, we inform all applicants of their status: accepted, wait-listed, or not accepted at this time. As noted in the question above, we do not give any feedback on applications.
This information is the first item in each program specific FAQs section below and can also be found on the SMApply application site.
We keep a waiting list for each program. The applications on the waiting list are kept active until we have confirmation from all invited participants, which can sometimes take several months.
The number of applications and likewise acceptance rate varies across our programs; all programs receive more applications than we have space to accommodate. Many well-qualified applicants must be turned down. Not being selected for the program does not reflect poorly on an applicant’s academic status or achievements. We encourage applicants to reapply if the program continues to meet their interests. Many applicants who attend our programs have applied more than once.
Generally we are unable to honor deferrals due to a variety of factors. If circumstances prevent you from attending the program to which you applied, in most cases, we are able to fully refund any payment you have made and are happy to review your application again the following year.
Each participant will have a private, en suite room.
Because Santa Fe lacks a full public transportation system, we encourage participants who can bring private transportation to do so. There is ample parking on the IAIA campus.
Downtown Santa Fe is a twenty-minute drive from the campus and offers a wide variety of museums, art galleries, culinary delights, and architectural charm.
Santa Fe has a comprehensive medical infrastructure for routine physical and mental health needs as well as wellness and preventative medicine options. Getting appointments can sometimes be a challenge, so if you will need to visit a healthcare provider during the summer, please plan ahead. More information will be provided to accepted applicants.
Health care is privatized in the United States and is weakly regulated. That means that the cost for medical care is the complete responsibility of each participant. Unfortunately, the cost for any procedure is unknowable and can be quite expensive. We recommend that all participants from outside the USA obtain traveler’s insurance to protect themselves should they need care.
Yes. Santa Fe Institute policy requires all participants in our in-person programs to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 before attending the program. More information will be provided to accepted applicants.
An important element of all of our in-person programs is the chance to have spontaneous discussions with the other participants whenever the inspiration is there. Such discussions are essential to both each participant’s intellectual experience – sharing ideas, challenging dogma, solving problems – and to the formation of a cohesive and supportive cohort. In-person programs are residential for this reason: to enable organic discussions. Additionally, several programs expect participants to continue group project work well beyond a “9-to-5” schedule, again facilitated through the residential nature of the program. While we think participants will gain most from sharing the residential experience with their fellow participants, we will consider exceptions.
You are welcome to arrive early or stay late in order to coordinate a vacation with your participation in the program. In most cases, we are unable to offer accommodations in participant housing outside of the dates of the program, and thus accommodations for extended stays (likewise, meals, transportation, etc.) are your responsibility. If the program is paying for your travel, you must ensure that the change in arrival/departure dates does not add significant cost.
Weekend excursions or Saturday/Sunday day-trips are possible within most programs that span a weekend. Shorter programs, such as Complexity-GAINs and the Graduate Workshop, expect that one weekend day is a work day and have scheduled events on either Saturday or Sunday, respectively. Longer programs, such as Summer School and the UCR program, leave both Saturday and Sunday unscheduled for participants to use as they wish. Please note that the programs do not organize such trips for participants. Interested participants will often coordinate to share travel, etc.
No. We are pleased to offer two programs that do not take place in Santa Fe: our virtual program Complexity Interactive and our EU-based program Complexity-GAINs. In the past, we have offered schools in China, India, Argentina, and Hungary.
Complexity Explorer courses are a great foundation for all of our programs. Most of the programs will expect that participants have taken, or are familiar with the concepts covered in, Introduction to Complexity. Participants may also find Complexity Explorer tutorials useful resources as they embark on research projects. All of SFI’s education programs, however, will encourage participants to think deeper about complex systems than is possible in a Complexity Explorer course and to engage in much more original thinking. If you find Complexity Explorer courses “easy” or “do-able”, any of our programs will be a good next-step in your complex systems journey. If you find Complexity Explorer courses “hard”, you may nonetheless find an SFI educational program a good option if you are willing to put in some extra time to learn the tools and theory that will be covered.
Complex Systems Summer School (CSSS) FAQs
The CSSS application process usually runs from late October through January. Please check the CSSS webpage in October for updates.
The CSSS program usually runs from early June through early July. Please check the CSSS webpage in October for updates.
We hope to notify all applicants by email regarding the status of their application by the end of March.
We select participants from a wide variety of backgrounds, including participants who do not have extensive quantitative training. Participants share their skills when working on group projects. There will be lectures that use math, but the Summer School is broad; participants are not expected to master everything presented.
If a participant wants to review quantitative skills, we recommend a review of linear algebra, differential (or difference) equations, and statistics before arriving at Summer School. There are reviews of the first two topics on ComplexityExplorer.org.
Yes. We accept participants who are Master’s students, Ph.D. candidates, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, research scientists, managers, and other professionals from academia, industry, government, NGOs and nonprofits.
We do not expect that applicants have a background in complex systems. It is important that applicants have a strong academic training – usually with a quantitative focus – and a desire to do transdisciplinary work with participants from a wide range of backgrounds.
Many CSSS participants can enter the United States with a B-1 visa or are eligible for the visa waiver program. B visas are intended for tourism or business, and thus accompanying paperwork should note that CSSS is a “seminar series” (or “scientific conference”). Avoiding the term “school” will help avoid confusion with opportunities that require a student visa. Processing times vary greatly; apply accordingly to ensure you can attend.
Participants needing an interview to obtain their visa may want to book an appointment now to ensure a timely interview if they are accepted. Program attendees have reported delays in scheduling visa interviews.
SFI cannot sponsor F- or J-series visas for CSSS participants.
CSSS participants pay to attend the program so they may enter under the visa waiver program. They will need their ESTA form and passport to enter the USA. A CSSS participant should ask for WT (waiver-tourist) status upon entry. This will be indicated on the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.
Once your group turns in the final paper, we provide a Certificate of Completion that outlines the accomplishments and contact hours of the School. Abstracts from the group projects are made available on SFI’s public website.
Participants will be housed at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). Most meals and lectures will be at IAIA. There will also be a few days spent at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI).
About IAIA IAIA gives the program a retreat-like atmosphere that provides participants with an opportunity to focus on pushing their ideas, research, and discussions further. IAIA's conference facilities are modern and cozy, offering participants multiple meeting rooms for collaborative work as well as large seminar spaces and informal meeting rooms. The residential facilities offer single and double rooms with ensuite baths. Access to IAIA's newly opened recreational facilities is included. Food is provided by Bon Appetit, which is the caterer for the Santa Fe Opera and uses locally sourced ingredients when possible.
Topics The CSSS lectures follow some of the information provided in Complexity Explorer courses, but the curriculum is much broader and delves much deeper into topics. Because of the wide variety of students whom we accept, lectures usually start out covering some basic concepts and then proceed to more advanced work.
People CSSS offers the chance to discuss with the faculty. Group projects afford an opportunity to meet other complexity researchers, often leading to long-term collaborations. Meeting fellow participants is one of the highlights of Summer School.
The Complex Systems Summer School (CSSS) is a four-week school designed to give participants a broad overview of complexity science and exposure to people in many different fields. It is focused on lectures and transdisciplinary group projects. CSSS has about 75 participants.
The Graduate Workshop in Computational Social Science (GWCSS) is a focused two-week program. It accepts 10 - 12 Ph.D. students working in the social sciences. There are lectures, but the majority of the program provides students with the opportunity to learn to model complex systems in their current area of research.
The registration fee covers participants’ room and board and a portion of the many other costs. After being accepted, we ask that participants seek their own funding for the program through their own institutions, departments, or other funders.
Here is a list of third-party funding sources that have been helpful for past participants. Please double-check that information is up to date.
We give a very small number of partial registration fee waivers to accepted participants on the basis of exceptional need. To request SFI assistance, accepted participants should email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a link to the application form.
NOTE: Every application for financial assistance will need to demonstrate that the applicant has made a substantial effort to obtain outside support to attend Summer School.
Complexity-GAINs International Summer Institute FAQs
We hope to notify all applicants by email regarding the status of their application in May 2023.
Complexity-GAINs is a new program exclusively for Ph.D. students, funded by the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with several complex systems research institutes in Europe. It offers a two-week intensive exploration of how to model complex systems, using both mathematical and computational approaches. The goal of the program is to integrate theory, modeling, and empirical data, and to look at what makes one model better suited to a particular question than another, as well as other considerations researchers will face. Participants will spend time discussing the process behind recent work in complex systems modeling and then apply what they learn to group research projects during the institute.
Germany, Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands, the countries in which our partner institutions are located.
No, each year of the program will focus on a different theme.
2022: socio-behavioral systems and the collapse of society
2023: intelligent systems, both biological and synthetic
2024: ecosystems, from cells to cities to continents
• Do you meet the program eligibility requirements?
• Are you interested in the topic of the institute?
• Does the topic of the institute align with what you are working on in your Ph.D.?
• Does the institute offer training that is not available in your department/program?
• Does your thesis committee think it’s a good time for you to attend?
• Would your thesis project benefit from mathematical or computational modeling?
• Are you interested in pursuing a mathematical or computational modeling project as a postdoc?
• Do you want to gain experience with transdisciplinary research?
• Are you curious what the research culture is like in Europe and the UK?
• Are you interested in international collaboration?
• Would you like to meet and work with Ph.D. students from another country?
• Is the idea of a no- or low-cost program helpful or appealing?
If you answered “yes” to at least two-thirds of the questions, then Complexity-GAINs is a good match for you. Please consider it carefully and talk to your mentor(s) about the opportunity or contact email@example.com with questions.
If you answered “yes” to about half of the questions, you may want to consider applying for Complexity-GAINs in a future year, when the topic is a better match for your interests or once your thesis project is further developed.
If you answered “yes” to less than one-third of the questions, then Complexity-GAINs is probably not for you. Check our other programs at santafe.edu/learn/programs.
The program requires participation in monthly pre-institute journal clubs to ensure everyone has a common foundation. There will be post-program sessions for participants who want to keep working on group projects and see those projects to publication.
If you are a US citizen or permanent resident, the program will be free. Thanks to the National Science Foundation, you will receive an allowance to cover your food costs, you will be reimbursed for your travel to/from Vienna, and your accommodations will be paid directly by the program.
If you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, we hope to make the program very low cost. Thanks to the generosity of donors and other sources, we have a number of travel awards that will cover travel to/from Cambridge and accommodations. For those who do not receive a travel award, the cost of accommodation for program participants is ≤ $95/£80 per night.
The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (INI) is a vibrant collaboration hub for visiting researchers from around the world. Its programs cover a broad range of research topics in mathematics and adjacent areas. The GAINs(UK) program will be SFI's first partnership with the INI. Cambridge is a welcoming university town with many historical, cultural, and entertainment options. It has an extensive tourist infrastructure and is easy to get around on foot or other forms of accessible transportation.
Yes. The program coordinator will offer several pre-travel planning sessions, to assist accepted participants organize their travel to/from Vienna. Economy round-trip airfare will be reimbursed, up to a given limit. US-based students will have the option of traveling in a group, with the program coordinator, from JFK in New York to the institute location in Cambridge UK.
Student health insurance plans may not adequately cover hospitalization or medical issues outside of the USA. Students should check with their department/program administration to determine if additional coverage is needed. It may be in participant’s best interest to invest in travel health insurance while in Vienna. We will offer a list of providers and appropriate coverage to accepted students.
Complexity Interactive (SFI-CI) FAQs
We hope to inform applicants of acceptance approximately six weeks prior to the start of the program.
No, there is no math requirement. It will help participants if they are familiar with linear algebra, descriptive statistics, and the concepts of basic calculus.
Complex systems science, as practiced at SFI, and thus as presented in our educational programs, emphasizes a quantitative and mathematical/computational modeling approach. Many speakers will bring in qualitative aspects of their work but generally with less attention to the methodology of qualitative approaches.
Plan on roughly 20 hours per week. The precise amount depends, of course, on how much time outside of the "live" lectures the individual wants to put into background reading, assignments, interest group discussions/projects, etc.
Is the course running from only at the lecture time stated on the webpage or are there any other lectures? I want to know if this will work with my professional schedule, with my time zone, etc.
The "live" lectures take place at the time posted on the webpage. Please note that these times are Mountain Time. There are no other "live" lectures. The only other "live" time that needs to be accounted for is participant-scheduled time to work on a hackathon project.
The lectures are recorded, so participants are able to (re-)watch any of the lectures when it is convenient. By not attending the lectures live, one misses the opportunity to ask questions of the speaker, which is often a very interesting and thought-provoking part of the program, though those discussions are recorded and available asynchronously.
Most participants gain a lot from the discussions – either with the speaker and the whole SFI-CI cohort, or in smaller groups of fellow participants and with the SFI-CI director or program coordinator. So generally, if a participant misses out on one type of discussion, they are encouraged to take advantage of the many other opportunities.
The course is accessible for students who are familiar with quantitative methods and who have conducted independent research or scholarship in a field related to the curriculum. For students who are enrolled in or who have completed an MSc degree, this may be the case, though it depends somewhat on the details of the particular program. A knowledge of mathematics beyond calculus is not expected, but an understanding of descriptive statistics and probabilities is assumed.
Because of the breadth of the material covered, no student will be an expert in everything, so it is advantageous for students to be self-directed learners such that they can identify and fill in gaps in their knowledge on their own.
SFI-CI is not supported by a grant. The registration fee is charged to cover some of the faculty costs. Therefore, we ask that students seek their own funding for the program through their own organizations. We do not have sources to recommend, but students may want to start by talking to their advisor and colleagues.
We do give a small number of registration fee waivers to students accepted on the basis of need. To request SFI assistance, participants should mail a request to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a link to the application form.
Our hope is to enable the participation of everyone who is accepted into the program.
SFI-CI and CSSS are complementary but distinct programs.
SFI-CI is an online course that runs part-time for two weeks. The curriculum focuses on a few themes in each offering to enable participants to fully explore those ideas across diverse systems. Its projects are necessarily limited in scope, intended to provide practice in applying the tools of complexity science. It serves participants who are interested in thinking broadly about complex systems. SFI-CI also fills a gap for participants who cannot devote four weeks of full-time study in Santa Fe for CSSS because of professional or personal obligations, financial considerations, and/or travel complications.
CSSS is a residential, in-person course that meets all day, every day M-F for four weeks, with extracurricular activities on evenings and weekends. The curriculum spans the breadth of complex systems concepts. Its projects are wider in scope and many of the projects reach publication after the program. It serves participants who have expertise in a particular domain but who want to enhance their approach with a complexity perspective. The course requires a four-week commitment to an intensive, scientific retreat-like environment.
Graduate Workshop in Computational Social Science Modeling and Complexity FAQs
We hope to notify all applicants by email regarding the status of their application by the end of March.
The primary goal of the Workshop is to assist Ph.D. students pursuing social science research that uses computational modeling. A significant portion of the workshop will be devoted to analyzing and enhancing research being conducted by the participants. The program accepts 10 - 12 graduate students from the social sciences each year. There are some lectures on computational social science modeling and complexity, but the majority of the program provides students with the opportunity to advance their ongoing research. GWCSS is aimed at students who have completed their qualifying examinations and are thinking about the structure of their dissertation.
Structure The Workshop is very hands-on and includes a lot of mentored practice in applying computational modeling methods to the student's problem-of-interest. There are roughly 8 hours of formal, classroom instruction over the two-week period. There are often a couple of guest lectures.
Most of the time is devoted to sharing projects with, and getting feedback from, fellow participants; individual project consultations with the directors; and structured project working time.
Many GWCSS participants can enter the United States with a B-1 visa or are eligible for the visa waiver program. B visas are intended for tourism or business, and thus accompanying paperwork should note that GWCSS is a “seminar series” (or “scientific conference”). Avoiding the term “school” will help avoid confusion with opportunities that require a student visa. Processing times vary greatly; apply accordingly to ensure you can attend.
Participants needing an interview to obtain their visa may want to book an appointment now to ensure a timely interview if they are accepted. Program attendees have reported delays in scheduling visa interviews.
SFI cannot sponsor F- or J-series visas for GWCSS participants.
The GWCSS is not supported by a grant. The registration fee is charged to cover students' room and board and only some of the many other costs. Therefore, we ask that students seek their own funding for the program through their own institutions. We do not have any sources to recommend, but students may want to start by talking to their advisor and colleagues.
We do give a very small number of partial registration fee waivers to students accepted on the basis of exceptional need. To request SFI assistance, participants should mail a request to email@example.com to receive a link to the application form.
NOTE: Every application for financial assistance will need to demonstrate that the applicant has made a substantial effort to obtain outside support to attend the Workshop.
Undergraduate Complexity Research (UCR) FAQs
The UCR application process usually runs from the middle of October to early January. Please check the UCR webpage in October for updates.
The UCR program usually runs from early June through the middle of August. Please check the UCR webpage in October for updates.
We hope to notify all applicants by email regarding the status of their application in March.
It has become increasingly vital for students across the sciences to gain computational and mathematical skills: the ability to translate real-world systems into quantitative models, carry out computational experiments, analyze these experiments using statistics, and compare results with real-world data.
Students need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of multiple types of models — such as differential equations, discrete stochastic processes, and agent-based simulations — and judge which are useful for a given scientific question.
At the same time, there is the need to combine these quantitative techniques with knowledge about specific systems in order to address the most important questions of the 21st century. The SFI UCR program is designed to empower students to achieve these goals through an exchange of quantitative techniques and specific knowledge.
The UCRs form a tight-knit and supportive community, facilitated by living together in a campus setting and participating in a variety of social activities. Students are encouraged to, and in practice do, support each other in their research and in their lives. Given the transdisciplinary nature of the program, students leverage their respective strengths: a math major might help with a complex calculation; a computer science major might help code an algorithm; and a social science major might help transform and analyze experimental data.
Prior to their SFI residency, students are encouraged to complete the online course Introduction to Complexity available on SFI’s ComplexityExplorer at no cost.
We can reimburse UCR students for some travel between IAIA and the SFI campus. UCR students who wish to drive to Santa Fe from their home or other location will also be eligible for reimbursement of some travel expenses.
For the purposes of this program, an undergraduate student is a student who is enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a baccalaureate or associate’s degree. Students transferring from one institution to another may participate, regardless of their enrollment status during the intervening summer. Students must be intending to enroll in at least one semester of undergraduate study following the program.
No, students are not eligible to apply if they are graduating before December of the program year. Students must be returning for at least one semester of undergraduate study after the SFI UCR program ends in August.
If you are enrolled in a dual degree program, such as an integrated B.Sc./M.Sc., you are eligible to apply if and only if you will be returning to the Bachelor's portion of your degree program for at least another semester following your summer in the UCR program. Typical B.Sc./M.Sc. programs allow completion of the Bachelors degree in three years, and thus students currently in their third year of the integrated degree would not be eligible to apply for the UCR program.
No. Only students who have begun their undergraduate studies and are enrolled in a two- or four-year, degree-granting program are eligible.
Interested individuals who have completed their undergraduate studies may want to view our other programs at santafe.edu/engage/learn/programs.
Yes, international students – both those attending USA universities as well as those attending schools outside of the USA – may apply to the program. Applicants are welcome from any country. Please be aware that we have fewer positions available for international students due to the current funding structure of the program. Accepted applicants who are not US citizens or permanent residents will receive assistance with visas as appropriate to their individual circumstances.
Please be aware of the following: international students enrolled at US institutions should hold an F-1 visa, sponsored by their home institution. They will need to contact the international office at their home university to help arrange for CPT/OPT status.
International students are offered the same support package as domestic students. There may be additional funds to support travel from a foreign country, although this depends on available funding each year.
We can only accept students who are able to start on the specified first day of the program. The first two weeks of the program are very important for orientation, including getting to meet potential mentors and starting to develop a summer research project. The chosen dates reflect our effort to balance academic calendars and activities scheduled at the Santa Fe Institute.
If a student who is accepted can work out a schedule with their professor(s) to turn in a final paper remotely, or take a final exam at SFI, we would be happy to provide whatever support is needed to enable this, such as an exam proctor and/or private work space.
We do not require official transcripts. An unofficial transcript issued by your college or university that lists all of your past and current courses, including grades/marks, will satisfy the application requirement.
For the fields of study question on the application should I select the one I’m majoring in or the ones I am interested in?
Select the field(s) most closely associated with your degree program (e.g. major and minor fields of study). Do not select fields that you think are interesting or that sound cool but in which you have not taken college-level courses.
How do I determine which math topics to select on the application? I have taken some non-credit courses.
Select the math topics for which you have received a passing grade in coursework. If you have taken courses not-for-credit, but completed all of the assignments and would have passed, you can select the applicable box. If the classes were taken not-for-credit and you did not complete assignments, or would not have passed, then the box should not be selected.
Applicants should write about current interests and a problem that they would like to research while at SFI. Adhere to the page limits; longer submissions may be viewed unfavorably. Remember to write clearly and succinctly. Please review the instructions in the application.
Examples of research statements are available on the UCR application tutorial.
Accepted students will not be held to the research proposals they described in their application. Accepted students will have a chance to meet with many researchers at SFI to discuss project ideas and explore possibilities. Together with the mentor, each participant will develop a project that interests them and on which they can progress during the 10-week program.
One goal of this section of the application is to get an approximate idea of what types of questions or projects a student might be interested in undertaking – or what techniques or skills they might like to use. The project proposal should thus be specifically related to your interests, but it will not necessarily become the project you would work on if selected.
A second goal of this section is that we get an understanding of each applicant’s skills at thinking logically about research. It is not expected that an applicant has prior research experience or that they are an expert at experimental design. We would, however, like to see that an applicant is thinking about questions and approaches in a logical way; that the question/problem they are interested in could be addressed by the general method proposed. For these reasons, specificity in both defining the question of interest and the possible approach is good.
We do not need to know the name of the algorithm, exactly what model, etc., but we would like to know that the project would develop an algorithm that finds “X” to measure “Y”, or that a model that incorporates interactions between “A”, “B” and “C” would be used to determined the effects on “D”, as well a logical justification of how that answers the question you are interested in.
Example 1 - It would be fine for an applicant to say that they are interested in developing and applying machine learning classifiers, even if they do not have any opinions or preferences about what type of data they would be working with. In such a methods-based example, it would be helpful for the applicant to describe an example of a similar project that they have heard about and what they find especially exciting or interesting about that project or about the method in general, and what they would like to learn from such a project.
Example 2 - It would be fine for an applicant to say that they are interested in understanding how social media influences people's choices of Netflix shows and that they might want to measure this through a data science/statistics approach, looking at a few variables and measuring correlations. It would not be expected that the applicant know what datasets are available, how to analyze text data, or what statistical tests would be best.
These examples should give a sense of the level of detail expected and how this section should fit within the 1-page limit.
For some examples from previously accepted applications, please visit our UCR application tutorial.
Please follow the instructions in the application and/or take a look at the UCR application tutorial. Your recommender should be a professor, mentor, or advisor who knows you and your work well.
The list of potential mentors will include members of our Resident Faculty and Postdoctoral Fellows.
Their information can be found here: https://www.santafe.edu/people/type/researcher
Applicants should not try to select a mentor now. Students selected for the program will have an opportunity to meet the available mentors during the first week of the program.