Radcliffe Names Faculty Leaders

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has appointed six “faculty leaders” from across the University as part of a new program that will try to catalyze academic inquiry across disciplinary lines, according to a press release issued earlier this month.

“Our faculty leadership will further strengthen Radcliffe’s links to Harvard’s faculties and help to shape new cross-disciplinary initiatives by taking advantage of Radcliffe’s neutral turf and convening powers,” Radcliffe Dean Barbara J. Grosz said in the press release.

Six current faculty members from diverse academic backgrounds were tapped to assume the new positions.

History Professor Ann M. Blair ’84 and History of Art and Architecture Professor Ewa Lajer-Burcharth will spearhead the effort in the humanities. Brigitte C. Madrian, a professor of public policy and corporate management at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Chair of the Sociology Department Robert J. Sampson will assume leadership in the social sciences. Rosalind A. Segal, a professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Astronomy Dimitar D. Sasselov will head the science initiatives.

Members of the new program said they hope that it will improve Radcliffe’s ability to promote cross-school collaboration.

“I see this as an effort to ask cross-cutting questions.” said Sampson. “It will serve as an incubator for new ideas and allow us to explore research in a new way.”

Segal said she is optimistic that the initiative will increase awareness of Radcliffe, which she said is lacking. She said she is especially excited to see how the new program can benefit research at the vanguard of neurobiology, such as the study of sleep.

“It’s a question that interests a lot of people,” she said, adding that the multi-disciplinary effort at Radcliffe will be particularly effective in enhancing collaborative efforts among psychologists, engineers, and neurobiologists to bring sleep science closer to finding more comprehensive answers.

While the possibilities for the program are far-reaching, Sampson said that its specific goals are still being hammered out.

“The script has yet to be written,” he said.

Sampson said the group plans to spend much of the upcoming academic year exploring possible focal points for investigation. Grosz said in the press release that she hopes that the initiative will not only expand the possibilities for work at Radcliffe, but that it will also benefit projects across the University.

“I am looking forward to working with these talented, energetic faculty who will further strengthen Radcliffe’s links to Harvard faculties and help to shape new initiatives.” Grosz wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson.