THE TURING CENTENARY RESEARCH PROJECT:
MIND, MECHANISM AND MATHEMATICS

Turing Centenary Research Fellowship and Scholar Competitions - How to Apply

Honorary Chairs:

  • Rodney Brooks
  • Sir Roger Penrose

The Project (click here)

Timeline:

  • First call for proposals - April 2011
  • Submission deadline - December 21, 2011 (extended)
  • Award Notification - March 31, 2012 (expected April 2)
  • Award Ceremony - Turing Centenary day, June 23, 2012
  • Commencement of the research project - July 1, 2012
  • Completion of the research project - June 30, 2015

Contents:

  1. The Turing Centenary Research Fellowship and Scholar Competitions
  2. Eligibility
  3. Details of the Scheme
  4. The Judges for the Four Research Themes
  5. Application Requirements
  6. Acceptable Uses of Grant Funds
  7. Judging Criteria
  8. Filters
  9. Criteria of Merit
  10. Submission +
    Submission Instructions

1. The Turing Centenary Research Fellowship and Scholar Competitions

The Competition entails a comprehensive search, within the context of the Alan Turing Year, for brilliant young researchers to take up eight research prizes; Five to be awarded via the JTF Turing Centenary Research Fellowship Competition, and three under the JTF Turing Centenary Research Scholar Competition.

It is anticipated that the centenary interest in Turing-related scientific issues, such as physical computability, mechanical intelligence, the impact of incomputable and emergent phenomena in the real-world context, will provide a springboard to a highly successful and effective competition. And that the resulting awards will deliver a long-term impact upon the field.

2. Eligibility

The prospective Turing Fellows should not have completed their Ph.D. (or equivalent) more than 10 years (excluding maternity leave and similar periods of interrupted research) previous to the submission deadline.

The potential Turing Scholars must be no more than 25 years old at the time of the submission deadline, with the prizes in this category funded under the JTF 'Exceptional Cognitive Talent and Genius' scheme.

3. Details of the Scheme

The 3-year research proposals, under each category, will be submitted under one of the Research Themes 1 - 4 listed above, and should address at least one Big Question.

There will be a total of 8 awards, £75,000 for each of the Turing Fellows, and £45,000 for each Turing Scholar. It is intended for the normal pattern to be two awards under each theme, with at least one and not more than three awards under any given theme, the exact distribution depending on the distribution and quality of the proposals received.

For both categories, Scholars and Fellows, there is a single round of judging, with a Budget and a ten-page Project Description (prepared under standard formatting rules) being main items. The Project Description should outline the proposed research, and describe the available facilities which the proposer expects to have available for pursuing the research during the period of the award. Also, each proposer should provide the names of three referees who have agreed to provide an opinion on the potential of the applicant for original research related to one of the main research themes.

In addition, the prospective Turing Scholars will be asked to submit a ten-page dissertation related to one of the 'big questions'. This dissertation should exhibit novelty of thinking, and engagement with the background to the question considered. Prospective Turing Scholars will also be asked to provide evidence that the tenure of the award will coincide with a period of research training. This evidence can take various forms - for example, acceptance for PhD training at a recognized centre, or sponsorship by a faculty member at a respected research centre, who agrees to mentor the training and research of the Turing Scholar.

4. The Judges for the Four Research Themes

Chair of the Judges: S Barry Cooper (Leeds)

The Judges for Research Theme 1 (The Mathematics of Emergence: The Mysteries of Morphogenesis):

The Judges for Research Theme 2 (Possibility of Building a Brain: Intelligent Machines, Practice and Theory):

The Judges for Research Theme 3 (Nature of Information: Complexity, Randomness, Hiddenness of Information):

The Judges for Research Theme 4 (How should we compute? New Models of Logic and Computation):

The judges will evaluate the proposals within their respective themes, and recommend up to three Turing Fellows, and two Turing Scholars under the relevant theme. The final decision will be via collective discussion of all jury members. The Chair will be independent and not vote in any final decision process.

5. Application Requirements

There will be a single round of applications, with full proposals comprised as follows:

  • A 500-1000 word summary of the project, explaining in non-technical terms the work and its greater theoretical and philosophical significance, suitable for publication in a journal or on a website.
  • An outline budget over the 3-year life of the award, with description and justification of how the money would be spent.
  • A CV (not more than four pages) for the proposer, highlighting those features (training, publications, professional talks, awards, etc.) most relevant for evaluating the success and merit of the applicant and project.
  • A detailed description of the proposed research, and a description of the facilities which the proposer expects to have available for pursuing the research during the period of the award, not to exceed 10 single-spaced 12-point-font pages. The proposal should make clear how the project meets all the criteria stated below.
  • A detailed time-line and description of deliverables.
  • Scanned signed letters of recommendation from three referees who have agreed to provide an opinion on the potential of the applicant for original research related to one of the main research themes.
    Referees may express in their recommendations a willingness to give further more confidential information via email if requested to do so by the judges.
  • In addition, the prospective Turing Scholars will be asked to submit a ten-page dissertation related to one of the 'big questions'. This dissertation should exhibit novelty of thinking, and engagement with the background to the question considered.
  • Prospective Turing Scholars will also be asked to provide evidence that the tenure of the award will coincide with a period of research training. This evidence can take various forms - for example, acceptance for PhD training at a recognized centre, or sponsorship by a faculty member at a respected research centre, who agrees to mentor the training and research of the Turing Scholar.

Completed full proposals will undergo a competitive process of external and confidential expert peer review by the judges. Each proposal will be evaluated according to the criteria stipulated.

6. Acceptable Uses of Grant Funds

Acceptable use of grant funds includes the following:

  • Student or postdoctoral salary, fees or benefits for part of the academic year.
  • Support for specific research projects during sabbaticals.
  • Assistance in writing or publishing books.
  • An allowance (less than 10%) for computers, computer software, data storage, books, and other relevant consumables.
  • Travel and subsistence support for research visits, or participation in relevant conferences, workshops or training events.
  • Development of workshops, conferences, or other activities contributing directly to the research or scientific progress in the relevant field.
  • Indirect costs and estate costs are not covered by the award. Awards do not cover financial, personnel and other central or departmental services, library services, administrative, general running or overhead and other unspecified costs, office expenses, photocopying, publishing costs, stationery, postage, telephone, faxes etc. and general premises or accommodation costs.

7. Judging Criteria

  • The judges will use a score sheet that will include key filters and a complete list of criteria. The score sheet will be set up so as to take both past success and future promise into consideration and will be designed to assess people and their ideas. The most important issue is the potential, both short and long-term, for work relevant to answering the big questions.
  • Arising from their examination of each proposal, each judge will generate a final rank ordering, based on their score sheet, as moderated by their expert overall assessment of the global character of the research and the candidate.
  • The rank orderings will be collated and final decisions transmitted accordingly by the Chair, in discussion with the judges, as described above.
  • The aim will be to distribute the prizes evenly between the four research themes. However, there will be flexibility to reward exceptional strength in one or more of the themes, as agreed by the Chair in discussion with the judges. The number of awards under each theme should be between one and three.

8. Filters

In order to direct expert consideration to the most serious contenders, the following filters need to be used in selecting the candidates:

  • Works submitted for the Research Grant must not be 'guild-normal' such that they could be in principle fundable by conventional funding. We wish to enable research that, because of its ambitious, non-mainstream nature, is not in a situation to be supported by mainstream sources. Note that this has nothing to do with any particular content or conclusion bias, but only with the deeper significance of the work for foundational questions.
  • Works must be rigorous and deeply creative in terms of ideas and the demonstrated capabilities and talents of the applicants.
  • Works must be pushing themselves towards an area of inquiry that is clearly and straightforwardly foundational. The offer of the Research Grant will be limited to research with potentially significant and broad implications for our basic and 'big picture' understanding of computability in nature and mentality.
  • The research in question must truly and deeply bear on the central theoretical issues enumerated under the four research themes. Technical and empirically oriented proposals are ideal, however, merely technical proposals, the results of which do not clearly bear on the essential questions, will not be considered for funding. It is the sole burden of the applicant to make the detailed case.
  • The proposed research should be multidisciplinary and foundational in its expected consequences.

9. Criteria of Merit

  • Intrinsic intellectual merit, scientific rigor and originality of the submitted proposal.
  • Potential for significant contribution to basic foundational understanding of computability in nature and mentality, and the likelihood for opening new fruitful lines of inquiry.
  • Qualifications and recommendations of the applicants and proposals.
  • Persuasiveness of realism and practicality of the plan of the applicants to use the grant to continue and advance the themes explored in the proposal. And, in the case of the Scholars, the relevance to the building of an enduring career in science.

10. Submission

Submission of proposals is via the EasyChair submission page. Here are some

Submission Instructions

to help you with submitting your proposal. For further information: pmt6sbc @ leeds.ac.uk


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