Albers-Schönberg Professorship in the History of Science Established at IAS

Press Contact

Lee Sandberg

The Institute for Advanced Study is pleased to announce the establishment of the Albers-Schönberg Professorship in the History of Science in the School of Historical Studies.

“The Albers-Schönberg name is illustrious in the history of science, with important contributions across three generations of scholars and researchers. It is an honor to have it now permanently connected to the Institute. And it is for me a joy and a privilege, in one of my first announcements as IAS Director, to express the Institute’s gratitude for this visionary gift,” remarked David Nirenberg, IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor.

Heinrich Albers-Schönberg (1865–1921), a physician and one of the earliest radiologists, helped revolutionize X-ray technology. His son, Ernst Albers-Schönberg (1897–1980), developed memory elements out of ceramics for early computers, filing his first patent in 1951, a critical development for the computer industry. Georg Albers-Schönberg received a Ph.D. in chemistry from University of Zurich and did his post-doctoral work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining Merck & Co. His late wife, Joyce Kovatch Albers-Schönberg (1943–2018), was a biochemist and later earned distinction as a financial analyst in the healthcare sector. Georg’s mother, Elisabeth Albers-Schönberg (1903–2000), was instrumental in fostering an environment that nurtured science and enriched the family through her love of the humanities, especially art history and classical philosophy.

Robbert Dijkgraaf, former IAS Director remarked “I don’t think there can be a better home than the Institute for this Professorship.”

The history of science has been a field of research at the Institute since the early ‘50s with the active support of J. Robert Oppenheimer, then Director of the Institute, who saw it as a bridge between the humanities and natural sciences. The appointment in 1950 of Otto Neugebauer, a historian of Egyptian and Babylonian mathematics and astrology, was followed in 1964 by Marshall Clagett, a specialist of medieval science, and in 1998 by Heinrich von Staden, a classicist and historian of science with a particular focus on ancient Greek medicine.

“Thanks to Georg’s generosity, the history of science will continue to be an important area of research and mentoring at the Institute for Advanced Study long after I have shuffled off this mortal coil,” said Myles W. Jackson, who will hold the inaugural professorship. “His gift will benefit both the IAS and the discipline of the history of science, which will continue to serve as the link between all the IAS Schools. It will also help ensure that Princeton remains a major center for the history of science given my superb colleagues in the field at the university.”

Jackson was appointed to the IAS Faculty in 2018 and explores the intersections between science, technology, aesthetics, and history. His work is noted for its cross-disciplinary methodology and range of study—from the artisanal production of scientific knowledge in nineteenth-century Germany to issues of intellectual property, knowledge sharing, ethical regulation, and bioengineering to the collaborations between natural scientists, engineers, and musicians on creating new forms of aesthetics.

“I join those who are profoundly grateful to Georg Albers-Schönberg for his magnanimous and timely gift,” stated Heinrich von Staden, Professor Emeritus in the School of Historical Studies. “Myles Jackson’s superb, groundbreaking scholarship as well as his exceptional gift for nurturing the research of other scholars, young and old, at the Institute promises to render him an outstanding holder of the Albers-Schönberg Professorship in the History of Science.”

About the Institute
The Institute for Advanced Study has served the world as one of the leading independent centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry since its establishment in 1930, advancing the frontiers of knowledge across the sciences and humanities. From the work of founding IAS faculty such as Albert Einstein and John von Neumann to that of the foremost thinkers of the present, the IAS is dedicated to enabling curiosity-driven exploration and fundamental discovery.

Each year, the Institute welcomes more than 200 of the world’s most promising post-doctoral researchers and scholars who are selected and mentored by a permanent Faculty, each of whom are preeminent leaders in their fields. Among present and past Faculty and Members there have been 35 Nobel Laureates, 42 of the 60 Fields Medalists, and 22 of the 25 Abel Prize Laureates, as well as many MacArthur Fellows and Wolf Prize winners.