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The Smithsonian has played a fundamental role in understanding the nature of the Universe, dark matter, galaxy formation, planetary systems and extreme explosive phenomena. With support from a broad range of government and private organizations, the Consortium will undertake integrative research using next generation technologies focused on questions that will include: the nature of dark matter and dark energy; the formation and evolution of planets, stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies; and space, matter, and time in the extreme environments of exploding stars, neutron stars and near black holes. Results of our research and explorations will be disseminated to scholars as well as the public and connected to our artistic and cultural endeavors.
Smithsonian Grand Challenges Awards—a competitive, internal granting program—advance cross-disciplinary, integrated scholarly efforts across the Institution which relate to the Smithsonian Grand Challenge Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe. These awards encourage Smithsonian staff to advance research, as well as broaden access, revitalize education, strengthen collections and encourage new ways of thinking that involve emerging technology.
Grand Challenges grants are awarded through the Smithsonian Consortia at two distinct levels:
Level One grants provide seed money to develop groups around promising concepts. Successful proposals at Level One provide the time and incentive for individuals with common interests to meet and crystallize ideas for major interdisciplinary/pan-Institutional projects. These projects are intended to be short in duration (6-12 months) and focused in purpose, such as support for arranging seminars, workshops, meetings, and brown-bag lunches.
Level Two grants are larger and aimed at maturing groups poised to confront relevant issues and prepared to secure external funding. Applicants apply for Level Two funding to conduct preliminary experiments, write a position paper, explore the design of an exhibition, conduct preparatory work for a major project or produce other evidence of scholarly capacity that is deemed essential for external competition. Successful proposals at Level Two provide a group that has defined a common goal with the resources they need to establish themselves as credible competitors for external funding. Applicants for Level Two funding may already have a collaborative history or may be building on the outcome of a successful Level One process.
Christine Jones has worked as an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics since 1978. In addition to her work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, she is a lecturer at Harvard University. She has been the recipient of several honors and awards that include the Nininger Meteorite Award (1970); NASA Group Achievement Award for HEAO-2 X-ray Calibration Team (1978); Harvard Bart J. Bok Prize (1979); NASA Group Achievement Award (1980); AAS-HEAD Bruno Rossi Prize (1985); NASA Group Achievement Award (1991); Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1995); NASA Group Achievement Award (2000); NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal (2000); and Marcel Grossmann Individual Award (2009), Honorary Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society (2011). She was Vice President of the American Astronomical Society (2008-2011) and President of Division XI, International Astronomical Union (2009-2012). Dr. Jones received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges in 1971 and her master’s and doctorate degrees from Harvard University in 1972 and 1974 respectively.