The IAS in Princeton announced today that Robbert Dijkgraaf will take over from Peter Goddard as director starting next summer.
Like Goddard, Dijkgraaf has devoted much of his career to string theory, more specifically the formal side of the subject, including conformal quantum field theories, topological quantum field theories, and their manifold interesting relationships to mathematical issues. Unlike Goddard, he’s from a later generation, getting his Ph.D. in 1989 and entering theoretical physics after string theory had begun to play a dominant role. His cohort of theorists who entered the subject as Young Turk revolutionaries riding the wave of string theory is now settling into the role of Grand Old Men.
Dijkgraaf is known as a masterful expositor, with pretty much any survey article by him you can find sure to be lucid and very much worth reading. He also has world-class political skills, recently overseeing the review of the IPCC, a topic putting him at the center of the religious war over climate change. His background makes him an ideal choice to lead an institution like the IAS, one with a great history in theoretical physics and mathematics, and an important ongoing role to play in keeping those subjects healthy.