Welcome to the the 2008-2009 Academic Year

A week from today, the Institute for Advanced Study¬†parking lot will be jammed with parents unloading their children’s stuff–we’re adjacent to the freshman dorms here at George Mason University–and so the beginning of the academic year is unmistakable for us.

I have just returned to campus from the annual two-day President’s Council/Board of Visitor’s retreat. It’s an entirely useful exercise that informs me of the entire waterfront of activities going on at this very large public university. Beyond informing, it also is wonderful for getting into the right frame-of-mind to begin another academic year as Institute Director.
For the Institute, this marks the beginning of our eighteenth year, and our sixth since fully merging into George Mason. I count approximately 60 scientific staff, 7 administrative support folks (including myself) and two wonderful doctoral programs that fill our halls and break-out places with students. We have finished our first expansion project (we’re now approximately 35,000 square feet) and we’re going to commence the second expansion sometime during this academic year (another 12,000 or so square feet).
Most importantly, we’re doing significant science–advanced studies–at the forefront of the interface between biology, psychology and machines–“mind sciences”. Throughout my travels this past summer, I find myself reminding: I may be a neuroscientist, but I lead an institute for advanced study.
So let’s focus on the trans-disciplinary science that our illustrious founders chose as putatively fruitful–cognition across the intersection of computer sciences, neurobiology and cognitive psychology.¬†
Good luck for a successful year!
Jim