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.