Durham University Institute of Advanced Study

Transforming the Way we Think

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Human Contrast Threshold and Astronomical Visibility

Following his collaboration with Durham researchers, IAS Fellow Andrey Crumey has just published findings presenting astronomers with a new model for gauging visibility in light pollution. This interdisciplinary work also reveals that light pollution has grown faster in recent decades than was previously recognised. The article can be found at http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.4209


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2015-16 IAS Fellowship Scheme is open to receive applications

Applications for Fellowships in 2015-16 are now being accepted. Closing date – Sunday 08 June 2014.

Launched in October 2006 to mark the 175th anniversary of the foundation of the University, the IAS is Durham University’s leading research institute. Its aim is to foster creative interdisciplinary thinking – and to communicate this to public audiences – through dialogue and collaboration across disciplinary boundaries. The Institute seeks to catalyse new ideas by bringing together internationally recognised academics as well as writers, artists and practitioners.

At its core lies a generously funded UK and international Fellowship programme which allows the IAS to invite scholars from the full spectrum of the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities to address research themes of global significance.

Fellows will contribute to the Institute’s annual theme, which for 2015-16 is Evidence, interpreted in its broadest sense – scientifically, symbolically, legally, philosophically, literarily, politically, economically, and sociologically.

An IAS fellowship provides the holder with the space and time to develop their research and ideas in a thriving academic community of scholars of national and international standing. Fellows will engage and forge strong links with at least one department at Durham, and be given the opportunity to deliver papers at events organised to coincide with the annual theme. Fellowships are offered for a three-month period and the IAS supports up to 10 fellowships per semester. The first semester covers the period October to December 2015, the second semester covers the period January to March 2016. Full details and information about the scheme can be located here.

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IAS Fellow Linda France wins National Poetry Competition

Piece imagining an encounter between a buttoned-up man and a flirtatious flower scoops £5,000 prize, with Maggie Sawkins picking up Ted Hughes award for innovation in poetry.

A poem that imagines an erotic encounter between a buttoned-up man and a seductive flower has won the National Poetry Competition, with the poet Linda France plucking the £5,000 award for Bernard and Cerinthe.

Hailed by the judge Jane Yeh as a “strange narrative” that is “truly imaginative and musical … as much a pleasure to read on the page as it is on the tongue”, the poem describes Bernard’s “shock to find himself, sheltering / from the storm in a greenhouse, // seduced by a leaf blushing blue / at the tips, begging to be stroked”.



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Former IAS Fellow Martin Harwit publishes new book

Professor Martin Harwit and fomer IAS Fellow during the IAS Modelling theme year, has published his latest and award winning  book In Search of the True Universe: The Tools, Shaping, and Cost of Cosmological Thought (Cambridge University Press).  A recent recipient of the American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholoraly Excellence (PROSE) in the category cosmology and astronomy, Professor Harwit’s book examines how understanding of the Cosmos advanced rapidly during the twentieth century and identifies the factors contributing to this progress.

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IAS ‘Evidence’ Theme for 2015/16: Proposals and Fellowship Nominations open to Durham Colleagues

Following its university-wide consultation and announcement of its 2015/16 theme, ‘Evidence’, the Institute of Advanced Study recently held a scoping meeting to discuss the potential sub-themes under which proposals for activities may coalesce. The discussion was wide-ranging and involved almost 30 staff across 16 departments.

The following potential sub-themes have been identified:

  • Evidence, Policy and Regulation
  • Evidence and Representation
  • Unreliable Evidence
  • Evidence and Interdisciplinarity
  • Evidence and Experience
  • Visual Evidence
  • Evidence and Spatio-temporality

 Any staff member interested in any of these sub-themes should make contact with the IAS.

In addition, if colleagues have an idea for a research activity that does not fit under any of these headings, but is innovative and interdisciplinary, they are still encouraged to submit an activity proposal.

The deadline for returning proposals for activities and nominating potential fellows is 13 March 2014.

Proposals (including nominations for Fellows) should be made using the pro-formas available to download from the IAS website on the ‘Annual Themes’ page under ‘Evidence’.  There is no need for detailed project development at this stage: we are simply looking for summary project descriptions that highlight creativity, relevance and outcomes. The pro-formas will assist the IAS Directors to make decisions when they discuss all of the sub-theme proposals at their meeting on 24 March. The details of the theme and the timescales mentioned above are also available at https://www.dur.ac.uk/ias/themes/evidence/timescales/.

Any queries or questions should be directed to the Institute Administrator, Linda Crowe.

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The IAS welcomes its Epiphany term cohort of Fellows

The Institute of Advanced Study is delighted to welcome its second cohort of Fellows connected with its 2013/14 Light year.   This term’s visiting Fellows include Professor Brad Tebo from Oregon Health and Science University, a distinguished Professor of Marine and Biomolecular Systems who is internationally best known for his work on manganese biogeochemistry and microbiology;  Dr Julie Westerman an artist and Senior Lecturer of Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University whose research at the IAS will develop new works that explore the perception of light; Dr Ulisses Barres de Almeida an Astrophysicist from the Brazilian Center for Research in Physics whose research focusses on the study of extragalactic objects, active galactic nuclei, extragalactic relativistic jets and radio galaxies; freelance writer and critic Lesley Chamberlain whose diverse research interests include German and Russian thought particularly during The Enlightenment; and Durham’s Professor Jan Clarke whose IAS Fellowships will develop her work on stage lighting.

Whilst at Durham the Fellows will be engaging and collaborating with colleagues on a number of different interdisciplinary Durham-led projects connected to the Light year, delivering seminars and public lectures, and engaging with their College.  Further details of all the programmes of work being taken forward during 2013/14 and details of this term’s IAS Fellows and how to contact them can be found by visiting: www.durham.ac.uk/ias/.