Radcliffe To Host More Scientists as Fellows Next Fall

More scientists than ever before will come to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study as fellows next fall, the result of an effort to radically expand Radcliffe’s role in the sciences, the Institute announced yesterday.

Next year’s class of 51 Radcliffe Fellows, which includes 11 natural scientists, will assemble a special research group of seven astronomers and theoretical astrophysicists.

The so-called “cluster,” whose members study string theory and black holes, comes as a result of intensive work by Radcliffe Dean of Science Barbara J. Grosz to raise the Institute’s profile in the world of scientific research.

A major administrative restructuring of the Institute last fall created two new positions—a dean of science and a dean of social science—to strengthen its academic mission. Many of the fellows selected from the pool of 549 applicants were directly recruited by the new deans.

“The selection committee was very much interested in crafting a class of fellows with certain commonalities of interest among them,” said Radcliffe Fellowship Director Judith E. Vichniac, who was also appointed last fall.

The fellowship program also seeks to include both junior and senior faculty and to balance academic disciplines, she said.

This year’s fellows represent 28 different colleges and universities and include 11 men, the highest number of men ever invited to the program.

The astrophysics group, led by Professor of Physics Lisa Randall, will hold cosmology seminars and invite guest speakers.

“It’s very important that science is established at Radcliffe,” Randall said.

A wide range of fields in the humanities, social sciences and creative arts are also represented.

For Meira Levinson, who teaches eighth grade at McCormack Middle School in Boston, the fellowship provides a rare opportunity to pursue her interest in political theory.

“It was one of the few fellowship programs that was open to non-academics as well as academics,” she said.

Nancy F. Bauer ’82, an assistant professor of philosophy at Tufts University who also served as managing editor of The Crimson as an undergraduate, said she looked forward to the “luxurious” opportunities her fellowship would present.

“I was astonished that I was chosen,” she said. “It provides ideal working conditions.”

Unlike Bauer and the others who went through a full application process, some fellows were directly recruited by the Institute’s deans.

Frederick Schauer, who is currently serving his last week as academic dean at the Kennedy School of Government, said he began discussing the possibility of coming to Radcliffe about six months ago with Radcliffe Dean Drew Gilpin Faust and Dean of Social Science Katherine S. Newman.

“Both of them thought that what I do and the project I’m working on would be a good fit with the new Radcliffe,” Schauer said.

Though Schauer’s work will not be funded by Radcliffe—he recently received a grant for his studies of rules and decision-making from the Guggenheim Foundation—he said he plans to be a full-fledged program participant.

Other Harvard professors who will be moving their offices to the fellowship offices on Concord Avenue include Dean of Undergraduate Education Susan G. Pedersen ’81-’82, Assistant Professor of English and American Literature Lynn Festa, Professor of Chinese Literature Wai-yee Li, Assistant Professor of the History of Art and Architecture Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Assistant Professor of Music Richard Wolf and Fiona Doetsch, a junior fellow in the Society of Fellows.

Perks of the fellowship program involve office space, financial sponsorship and access to Harvard’s scholarly resources in addition to regular colloquiums and discussions with other fellows—advantages that were not lost even on Harvard’s own applicants.

“I applied to the Institute because I’m going to be in Cambridge working on my book and wanted to have a quiet office away from the Yard,” Pedersen wrote in an e-mail.

This year’s class of fellows is the second to come to Radcliffe since an ad hoc committee report released last February advised the Institute to make the fellowship program the core of Radcliffe’s work.

The current group of Institute fellows are now called Radcliffe Fellows and take part in a centralized program, a change from past years where fellows were scattered among different Radcliffe divisions.

Next year, Vichniac says, the program will experiment with different ways for fellows to interact with each other and the public.

She says the program also plans to encourage more undergraduates to participate in its Research Partners Program, which pairs College students with fellows.

And for the 2003-2004 academic year, Newman plans to convene a social science cluster focusing on immigration issues.

—Staff writer Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at shoichet@fas.harvard.edu.