Phillip Griffiths Discusses the Institute's Role in Science and Technology in the Developing World

Phillip Griffiths Discusses the Institute's Role in Science and Technology in the Developing World

If poorer countries are to achieve greater prosperity, there is a demonstrated need for improved scientific proficiency within them. The Science Initiative Group (SIG), based at the Institute for Advanced Study, is an international team of scientific leaders and supporters dedicated to fostering science in developing countries. Phillip Griffiths, Professor in the School of Mathematics at the Institute and Chair of SIG, will address the organization’s efforts to enhance science education in his talk, Science and Technology in the Developing World: The Institute’s Role. The lecture will take place on Friday, May 1, at 6:00 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall on the Institute’s campus.

For the past decade, SIG has worked with the World Bank and other partners to strengthen science in developing nations. Griffiths’s talk will address the context for and evolution of SIG’s programs, with emphasis on the new Carnegie-IAS Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE), which prepares Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers in sub-Saharan Africa through university-based research and training networks.

Griffiths was appointed as Director of the Institute in 1991 and served in that position until 2003, when he joined the Faculty of the School of Mathematics. He has served as Chair of SIG since its inception in 1999.

His research is in geometry, broadly defined. Griffiths and his collaborators initiated the theory of variation of Hodge structure, which has come to play a central role in many aspects of algebraic geometry and the uses of that subject in modern theoretical physics. In addition to algebraic geometry, he has made contributions to differential and integral geometry, geometric function theory and the geometry of partial differential equations.

In 2008, Griffiths received the Wolf Prize in Mathematics for his work on variations of Hodge structures, the theory of periods of abelian integrals and for his contributions to complex differential geometry. That same year, he received the Brouwer Prize of the Royal Dutch Mathematical Society for his work in complex algebraic geometry and (complex) differential geometry. He was awarded the Brazilian Order of Scientific Merit (Grand-Cruz) in 2002.

Griffiths received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1962. He was a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1962 to 1964 and then was on the Berkeley faculty until 1967. He was a Member in the Institute’s School of Mathematics from 1968 to 1970 and joined the faculty of Harvard University as Dwight Robinson Professor of Mathematics in 1972. Griffiths left Harvard in 1983 for Duke University, where he served for eight years as Provost and James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics. In 1991, he was named Director of the Institute, and in 2003 he stepped down and joined the Faculty of the School of Mathematics.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a foreign associate of TWAS: The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. Griffiths was a member of the National Science Board from 1991 to 1996 and Secretary of the International Mathematical Union from 1999 to 2006. Griffiths served as editor of the Annals of Mathematics from 1997 to 2007.

For further information about this event, which is free and open to the public, please call 609-734-8175, or visit the Public Events page on the Institute website,