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James Harris SIMONS

Primary Position:
Chairman
Primary Company:
Renaissance Technologies
Estimated Net Worth:
At least $14.3 billion
Source of Wealth:
Self-Made
Age:
78
Birthday:
April 1938
Religion:
Jewish
Nationality:
United States
Hometown:
Brookline, Massachusetts, United States
Marital Status:
Married

Biography

After graduation, Simons taught mathematics at MIT and Harvard University. In 1961, he and a few classmates from MIT invested in a Colombian floor tile and pipe company. In 1964, during the Vietnam War, became a Code Breaker for the U.S. Department of Defense. In 1968, joined Stony Brook University and served as the Chairman of its Mathematics Department. In 1973, the Columbian floor tile and pipe company was sold. In 1978, Simons left Stony Brook University and started Monemetric. He formed a private ...

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Education History

Institution Name:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Qualification Name:
Bachelor's degree
Education Type:
Undergraduate
Start Date:
1955
End Date:
1958
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Interesting Facts

One of the things Simons is most proud of is a framed picture of equations known as "Chern-Simons", named after a paper he wrote with Shiing-Shen Chern, a prominent geometer. The equations define many esoteric aspects of modern physics, including advanced theories of how invisible fields like those of gravity interact with matter to produce everything from superstrings to black holes. The picture is hung on his office wall.

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Interests, Passion, Hobbies

Kind of Interests, Passion and Hobbies: Politics
Description: Registered Democrat; in 2012, donated at least $2 million to Barack Obama's Priorities USA Action.

Kind of Interests, Passion and Hobbies: Science
Description: Simons hires scientists instead of MBAs; reportedly all job candidates must lecture the entire firm on their scientific research. His favorite topics include gene puzzles, the origins of life, the roots of autism, math and computer frontiers, basic physics and the structure of the early cosmos.

Kind of Interests, Passion and Hobbies: Travel
Description: Simons has been known to fly his employees and their families for weekend trips; reportedly he once flew more than 300 people to Bermuda.

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Philanthropy

Giving Profile: Generous philanthropist whose lifetime giving exceeds $1.2 billion. In 1994, Simons and his wife, Marilyn Simons, established the Simons Foundation, which primarily supports educational related causes. Simons serves as Chairman of the Simons Foundation. In 2013, the foundation had assets exceeding $2.1 billion and donated more than $184 million in 2012. In 2005, Simons co-founded the Nick Simons Foundation in memory of his son, Nick, who died on a leisure trip to Bali, Indonesia in 2003. In 2006, Simons and his wife, Marilyn Simons established the Nick Simons Institute, which trains rural healthcare workers in Nepal, Kathmandu. Simons serves as the President of the Nick Simons Foundation. In 2014, the foundation had assets exceeding $60 million and donated more than $2.6 million; gives primarily to humanitarian and social causes. Recipients include: Nick Simons Institute, Patan Hospital, American Himalayan Foundation and Himalayan Cataract Project. The couple also co-founded the Paul Simons Foundation, named after their son, Paul, whom they lost in a car accident in 1996. Serves as President of the Paul Simons Foundation. In 2014, the foundation had assets exceeding $49 million and donated more than $1.3 million; gives primarily to social and educational causes. Notable recipient is the Avalon Park and Preserve. The couple funded the Avalon Park, a 130-acre nature preserve at the Stony Brook University through the Simons Foundation. In 2004, Simons founded Math for America, a non-profit organization established to improve mathematics and science education. Simons has also donated at least $30 million to autism research; reportedly the Simons Foundation has pledged to invest $100 million more into autism research. The Simons Foundation has made several gifts to Cornell University; supported the Cornell University Library's arXiv program, which is an open-access digital archive of scientific papers and by providing grants to faculty. Simons has established the "Simons Investigators Award", which is given by the Simons Foundation to encourage scientists. In 2011, the couple donated at least $11 million to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, supporting autism causes. In 2011, Simons and Charles Simonyi donated at least $100 million to Institute for Advanced Study through the Simons Foundation. In 2013, Cornell University established the "James H. and Marilyn H. Simons Graduate Fellowship", in honor of the Simons, who made a commitment of $2.5 million through the Simons Foundation. In 2013, the Simons Foundation donated to the Stony Brook Children's Hospital.

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