Radcliffe Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Institute for Advanced Studies reaches ten years


The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, which grew out of Radcliffe College, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month with an emphasis on crossing boundaries, a facet of the Institute members say facilitates its research.

Housed on the grounds of Harvard’s former female counterpoint, the Institute now serves as a site for academicians—both students and professors, men and women—to pursue a more advanced field of study, ranging from the biological sciences to the humanities.

“The anniversary was a natural moment to pause and reflect on the ground-breaking research and creative thinking that the Radcliffe Institute has fostered over the last decade,” University President Drew G. Faust wrote in an e-mailed statement.

One Radcliffe Fellow, Joanna Aizenberg, who is a professor of materials science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said that the Institute provides an opportunity to “establish connections between the arts and sciences, so science may not be seen as so boring.”


Calling the Institute “instrumental” in bridging academic divisions, Aizenberg said she spends her time at the Institute observing how biological materials can be used as templates for building better structures.

Spanning several academic disciplines, Aizenberg researches the glass skeletons of deep underwater sea sponges inhabited by shrimp, which serve as an inspiration for constructing buildings.

For James L. Mallet, a professor of biological diversity at University College London and a Helen Putnam Fellow at Radcliffe, working at the Institute is an “escape from bureaucracy” which provides a wealth of library research.

Mallet has taken time away from lab research on butterflies to write a book to clarify a Darwinian understanding of species, in which he argues that species don’t exist genetically, evolutionarily, or ecologically. “We are rather a collection of individuals than a species,” he said.

While the recent economic downturn has poked a hole in its budget, the Institute’s dean, Barbara J. Grosz, said that Radcliffe is working closely to maintain its programs and academic resources.

“Budget cuts have affected our programs, but we have made a five year budget plan to keep the strength of the fellowship program, the Schlesinger Library, and the academic engagement programs,” she said.

The Institute’s celebration of crossing boundaries will entail a symposium to be held later this week.


An earlier version of the Oct. 6 news article "Radcliffe Celebrates 10th Anniversary" incorrectly quoted Radcliffe Dean Barbara J. Grosz as saying budget cuts had not affected the Institute's programs. In fact, she said that budget cuts had affected its programs.

The article also incorrectly stated that the Radcliffe Institute's celebration of "crossing boundaries" would entail a series of events this week. In fact, only one symposium had been planned.


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