plow plane, Flickr

In a partnership with the John Templeton Foundation, SFI will evaluate inquiries and proposals the Foundation receives on “the science and significance of complexity,” a 2010 funding priority for the Foundation.

SFI has agreed to referee portions of letters of inquiry submitted to the Foundation requesting support of proposed research. The Institute will make recommendations, based on the scientific merit of each inquiry, that the Foundation invite full project proposals from selected researchers and institutions. SFI also will evaluate full proposals at a later stage of the review process.

The John Templeton Foundation funds projects spanning mathematics, natural science, the humanities, and theology.

Since its founding in 1984, the Santa Fe Institute has pioneered and led the development of complex systems science worldwide, contributing theoretical foundations, transdisciplinary research methods, and analytic tools used today at many scientific institutions involved in complexity science.

Target areas within the Foundation’s science of complexity program include neurocomplexity, complex systems in economics and the social sciences, and genetic and quantum mechanical aspects of the origins of life.

The Foundation also is interested in "new perspectives, methods, and tools that might enrich scientific and popular understandings of complexity, especially new ways of representing and visually depicting complex processes,” according to the Foundation. Details can be viewed here.

As part of the partnership, SFI will focus exclusively on mathematics and the natural sciences and views its role as ensuring that the highest quality inquiries describing rigorous, empirically grounded science are invited to submit full proposals, according to SFI President Jerry Sabloff.

Specifically SFI will concern itself with how evolution and self-organization give rise to complexity in living systems, how macro-scale phenomena emerge from micro-scale processes, and ways to measure and represent complexity.

SFI will not evaluate the portions of inquiries or proposals that address “philosophical and theological reflection on divine creativity and providence,” a focus area the Foundation will evaluate directly.

“We are excited to be playing a role in helping direct such an important source of funding to projects that we consider of great scientific merit,” says Sabloff. “The Foundation has shown considerable vision in supporting this important area of science, and we all look forward to seeing the important research that it promotes.”