For example, Terrence Tao has an endowed research position where he is able (paid to) through grants and school salary to do whatever research he wants. Tao does research in pure and applied math. This is rare of course, but I haven’t been able to find any information on this in physics academia? Are there any endowed positions in physics where you have mobility to do any research you want, or are phycisists usually only focus on one main thing? For example, I bet Ed Witten (if I am spelling it right) gets paid a good amount because of his work in string theory, but does he have an endowed position?