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James Simons to get Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

Hedge fund billionaire James Simons and his wife,

Hedge fund billionaire James Simons and his wife, economist Marilyn Simons, will receive the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in October 2013. Through the Simons Foundation, the couple has donated $150 million to Stony Brook University. Credit: Chris Ware, 2011

Hedge fund billionaire James Simons, Long Island's richest resident, and his wife, economist Marilyn Simons, will receive the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy next month.

The couple's giving has advanced the "frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences," said the Carnegie UK Trust, which is hosting this year's award, presented every two years to individuals who have given much of their personal wealth to charitable causes. Hundreds of millions of the Simons' dollars finance the study of math and theoretical physics at universities and labs across the country, and in 2011 they gave $150 million to Stony Brook University, where James Simons, a mathematician by training, once chaired the math department.

He and his wife, who have a daughter with a mild form of autism, also fund research into that condition.

A spokesman for the Carnegie Corp., Scott Bittle, said Sunday they are expected to attend an Oct. 17 awards ceremony at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to receive their prize -- a bronze medal and a bust of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American steel baron who gave away $350 million, most of his money, before his 1919 death.

James Simons, 75, made most of his reported $12 billion fortune from Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund he founded in 1982. It is one of the world's largest.

Simons, the son of a Massachusetts shoe factory owner, received a doctorate in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, and worked as a cryptanalyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Princeton, N.J., in the 1960s.

By the 1970s, he was math department chairman at Stony Brook and eventually won the American Mathematical Society's Veblen Prize in Geometry.

Simons retired from Renaissance in 2009. He was traveling Sunday and unavailable for comment, Bittle said.

Marilyn Simons, 62, has shepherded nonprofit groups in New York City and Long Island, where she is vice chair of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

She is treasurer and former president of the Learning Spring School in New York City for children with autism and is a member of the board at the East Harlem Tutorial Program.

Other Carnegie Medal winners this year include Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, wife of the former emir of Qatar; Tom Hunter, reportedly Scotland's first homegrown billionaire; Dmitry Zimin, co-founder of the second-largest telecom business in Russia; and British philanthropist Janet Frances Wolfson de Botton, chairwoman of the Wolfson Foundation, which supports science, medicine and the arts.

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