Robbert Dijkgraaf appointed Director of the Institute for Advanced Study

14 November 2011

Robbert Dijkgraaf, current President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, has been appointed Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He will take up his post on 1 July 2012. This is only the second time in the IAS's eighty-one-year history that this honour has fallen to a non-citizen of the United States. The IAS enjoys worldwide renown. No less than 27 Nobel laureates, among them Albert Einstein, have been associated with the Institute.

In keeping with tradition, Robbert Dijkgraaf’s work as Director of the IAS will combine administrative tasks and research. Dijkgraaf has had a long association with the IAS. His first appointment there was in the early 1990s, and he returned briefly in 2002. The Institute for Advanced Study is a leading centre in string theory, Dijkgraaf’s special field of research. 

Robbert Dijkgraaf will have served four years as President when he leaves the Royal Academy in mid-2012. During that time, he led efforts to modernise the Academy and worked to improve the status of science in a politically and economically turbulent period. “The scientific community in the Netherlands, and the Academy in particular, will be sorry to see Robbert Dijkgraaf go,” says Vice President Pearl Dykstra.  “He is an indefatigable ambassador of science, a role he tackles with impressive energy, erudition and charm – whether he’s talking to schoolchildren or ministers of state, appearing on television or lecturing. It is a real coup for the IAS to get him on board.”

Although Dijkgraaf will resign as President of the Academy, he will not be lost to Dutch science. He will retain his position as Distinguished University Professor at the University of Amsterdam.

“There are very few jobs that someone in my fortunate position – President of the Academy and university professor – finds irresistible,” says Robbert Dijkgraaf, explaining his motivation. “Of those few, the appointment to the IAS is the best that I can imagine for myself. The IAS is a prestigious institute, the place where my own field of research evolved, and past or present home to many of my teachers. In addition, my appointment allows me to combine research and administrative tasks. All these things taken together make this a unique opportunity for me.  In spite of everything, however, I know I’ll be leaving the Trippenhuis Building with a heavy heart next year. I will be able to look back on an eventful, exciting, but above all inspiring period of my working life.”

About the Institute for Advanced Study

The IAS is a private, independent academic institution located in Princeton, New Jersey. It has a permanent faculty of no more than 28 professors and each year welcomes some two hundred selected guest researchers from around the world. The Institute has four Schools: Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Historical Studies, and Social Science. Since it was founded in 1930, the IAS has been home to approximately seven thousand researchers. It has counted Albert Einstein, Kurt Gödel, John von Neumann, Robert Oppenheimer and other towering figures in science as faculty members. The IAS has been the academic home of 27 Nobel laureates and 38 recipients of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in mathematics. It has set the stage for numerous scientific breakthroughs and innovations, such as computers, game theory (economics), astrophysics, and meteorology. For more information, please consult the IAS website.

About Robbert Dijkgraaf

Robbert Dijkgraaf (1960) has been the President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1 May 2008. He is also a Distinguished University Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Amsterdam. Dijkgraaf studied theoretical physics and mathematics at Utrecht University, where he obtained his PhD cum laude in 1989 under the supervision of Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft. He received a Spinoza Grant in 2003. Many of his activities are at the interface between science and society. His columns for Dutch national daily NRC Handelsblad cover science, art and policy. He used his Spinoza Grant to fund, a website with experiments for children aged 8 and above. As a regular guest on popular Dutch TV programme De Wereld Draait Door, Dijkgraaf introduced Dutch audiences to many an up-and-coming researcher. He was a member of the Dutch government’s second Innovation Platform and co-chairs the InterAcademy Council, the advisory body to science academies worldwide