Michail “Misha” Tsodyks, a world-leading theoretical neuroscientist, will join the Faculty of the School of Natural Sciences as C.V. Starr Professor in the Simons Center for Systems Biology at the Institute for Advanced Study, effective July 1, 2019. Tsodyks’s research is focused on identifying neural algorithms that define functions of cortical systems. His analytical and numerical results have also had a strong impact on advancing a quantitative understanding of brain function and human cognitive abilities.
“We feel strongly that the spirit characteristic of America at its noblest, above all the pursuit of higher learning, cannot admit of any conditions as to personnel other than those designed to promote the objects for which this institution is established, and particularly with no regard whatever to accidents of race, creed, or sex.”
Jacob Lurie, who has made transformative contributions to mathematics through his work on derived algebraic geometry and infinity categories, will join the Faculty of the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study, effective July 1, 2019. Lurie’s ideas in modern algebra, geometry, and topology provide novel frameworks that guide current research, unite seemingly disparate fields, and expand upon the foundations of mathematics.
The Institute for Advanced Study ranks fourth in Nature's normalized analysis of the institutions that dominate research in the natural sciences. Normalized rankings show what share of an institution’s research output has been judged high quality, revealing a set of institutions “who might be punching above their weight in producing high-quality research,” according to Nature, which cites as an example the cross-disciplinary analysis of ancient cemeteries led by Patrick J. Geary, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the School of Historical Studies.
Myles W. Jackson, Professor in the School of Historical Studies, will give the commencement address and lecture “What Is, and to What End Do We Study, the History of Science” on lens-making and the politics of craft knowledge; the exchange between musicians, physicists, physiologists, and radio engineers; and the politics of personal genomics companies and the ownership of personal identities and knowledge.
My work in the history of science probes the porous boundaries between science and culture over the past two centuries. Much of it gestures toward the role of history in public policy. I am interested in having the historian at the table while a scientific controversy is ongoing. We historians are rather good at illustrating that controversies have histories: how we arrived at where we are today is very informative. There have always been, and always will be, alternatives.
“The legacy of Tiananmen is not something that belongs to China or to the Chinese people alone. It belongs to the world,” writes Rowena Xiaoqing He, Member in the School of Social Science, on the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. At the Institute, He is working on a book about the roots and development of Chinese student nationalism in post-1989 China.
There is a pressing need to go beyond the Western-centered historical perspective on inequality regimes and explore the relationship between rising inequality and the changing structure of political conflict, from class-based to identity-based conflict.
“Our result is potentially important not only for our galaxy, but to any galaxy which has this type of underfed black hole in its heart,” said Lena Murchikova, Bezos Member in the School of Natural Sciences, lead author of a Nature paper that reveals the first observation of the rotation behavior of the accretion disk around Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Angelos Chaniotis, Professor in the School of Historical Studies, joins Andrew Keen to revisit the origins of democracy for an episode of the podcast How to Fix Democracy. The two discuss why democracy began in Athens, what it was like when it first emerged, and clues to preserving the modern version.
Charles Simonyi Professor Edward Witten and Director and Leon Levy Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf discuss topics ranging from the gap between theory and experimentation in physics to some of the outstanding questions in the fields of quantum gravity, quantum field theory, and number theory.
Could empirically minded, plain-speaking, fact-checking journalists, bulked-up suffrage, court and educational systems, a tradition of street demonstrations, and the development of a new kind of First Amendment jurisprudence that paid more attention to maintaining facticity and reversing silencing techniques be enough to revitalize the democratic take on truth? Could any of the elements of the democratic imaginary, including liberty, equality, and dignity as well as truth become, once again, a widely shared goal? It is hard to say yes to either question as long as people seem to be living in such different worlds, economically and psychologically.
In the realm of politics, the value of freedom is collective and enabling. It makes it possible for men and women to join together and claim equal standing. Take political freedom away and equality becomes a lost project.
After decades of retreat from the mainstream, economic history is making its way back to college curricula and scholarly publications. Today as always, present concerns stimulate academics’ choice of subject matter and approaches to historical inquiry.