Welcome from the Director

Apr 26, 2023 | IAS Director, IAS News, Transformations (Issue 9)

Professor Alex Easton, Director, IAS

Welcome to another edition of the Institute of Advanced Study’s newsletter, Transformations. We have come to the end of another busy term, and another Fellowship year. The increasing activity within Cosin’s Hall is wonderful to see with regular meetings of the Major Projects, and increasing workshops for our Development Projects making sure that there is a constant buzz of activity. Alongside our regular Fellows’ seminars and lectures, and our hosting of the first Sir Harry Evans Global Fellow in Investigative Journalism, Waylon Cunningham, it means conversations within the IAS have been fantastic, with new connections made between Fellows, Durham researchers, and others.

Behind the scenes, the IAS Directors and staff have also been busy with our recent strategic review. Our strategic vision for the IAS and our direction of travel has been welcomed by the review panel, with much support and encouragement for our activities and how we might further support the University in its own strategic aims. In particular, we were delighted from the feedback from all those Durham researchers that have led projects over recent years. The sense of excitement and energy that comes with running an IAS project, and the benefits to research as a result, are exactly what we hope for, and wonderful to see. This successful review wouldn’t be possible without the enormous efforts, dedication, and enthusiasm of our staff (Linda and Julia) and all my current Co-Directors (Nayanika, Patrick, Karen, and Gretchen), as well as all those that have passed through the IAS over the last five years. I can’t begin this newsletter, then, without saying a huge thank you to them, and all others, that have allowed the IAS to grow, develop, and adapt in recent years.

On that note, it is perhaps timely to reflect upon the passing of someone who made a major contribution to the early years of the IAS, Professor Tom McLeish, who died in February. Tom was Durham’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research from 2008 to 2014, and a huge champion of interdisciplinary research, both across Durham’s research institutes (including the IAS), and in his own research bringing together the Sciences and Humanities. Arriving in Durham just two years after the IAS’s foundation, Tom’s support for interdisciplinary research, often in challenging and exciting ways, had an enormous impact on the size and shape of the IAS, and many of the successful projects we supported during that period. Our thoughts, along with those of the many that knew him, are with Tom’s friends and family.

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