3rd UBIAS Intercontinental Academia (ICA) - Laws: Rigidity and Dynamics


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The ICA seeks to create a global network of future research leaders by constructing an arena in which the very best early/mid-career scholars will work together on paradigm-shifting cross-disciplinary research, mentored by some of the most eminent researchers from across the globe. The proposal to create an Intercontinental Academia was agreed by the Steering Committee of UBIAS (University-Based Institutes for Advanced Studies) and was the idea of the then director of the Israel IAS, Professor Eliezer Rabinovici. A key aspect is deriving the full benefit of the intercontinental origins of the endeavour and diversity of thought and culture. This immersive and intense experience is expected to transform the scholar's own approach to research, enhance their awareness of the work, relevance and potential impact of other disciplines, and to inspire and facilitate new collaborations between distant disciplines; our aim is to make a real, yet volatile, intellectual cocktail that leads to meaningful outputs. 

The Structure

The academia is based around two intensive workshops held on different continents which provide space for learning about the inward perspective of each "subject", performing a comparative analysis of the panorama and searching for correlations among these different views and perspectives.  The scholars are guided during these workshops by an array of mentors who are themselves some of the most outstanding disciplinary and interdisciplinary researchers of our time.  Within the programme, the scholars will have the space to help to define the precise workshop structure and the outputs from the project (example: a book is envisaged).

The Theme

Laws: Rigidity and Dynamics has been selected to provide a forum and framework for the intellectual exchange.  The concept of laws has different meanings in different settings, cultures and to individuals. Yet 'laws' are common from Medicine to Linguistics, Chemistry to Music, History to Physics, Psychology to Economics, Engineering to Theatre and beyond.

This rich theme demands reflection, analysis and comparison, to elucidate the origins of laws and tensions among them:  When and why are they formed? When and why are they broken?  How is that common or different across disciplines and why?  Whether examining laws devised by humans, natural laws or the evolution of theory emerging from chaos and complexity into laws, there is potential for intense interactions between the disciplines and insight arising from that. 

The Organisers

Phua Kok Khoo, Founding Director Emeritus, Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS), Nanyang Technological University
Michael J Hannon, Director, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Birmingham
Eliezer Rabinovici, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Vice President CERN Council
Kwek Leong Chuan, Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore
Lars Brink, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden


University of Birmingham Consulting Group

David Gange, Department of History
Fiona de Londras, Professor of Global Legal Studies
Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) 
Jonathon Reinarz, Professor of the History of Medicine
Damien Walmsley, Professor in School of Dentistry



 mason-125  Reinarz-125




Sue Gilligan, Project Co-Ordinator


Professor Andrews is Dean at the University of Cape Town. Prior to joining UCT, she was the President and Dean at Albany Law School, USA and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the City University of New York. Penelope’s research is focused on equality and human rights.


DasguptaProfessor Sir Partha Dasgupta was named a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s 2002 Birthday Honours List for services to economics. He has the rare distinction of being a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. Sir Partha divides his time between New College of the Humanities and Cambridge, where he is the Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics.

Michal Feldman
FeldmanMichal Feldman is a Professor of computer science in the Blavatnik School of Computer Science at Tel Aviv University and a researcher at Microsoft Research (MSR) Herzliya. Her research focuses on the intersection of computer science, game theory and microeconomics.

[Image copyright © "Ha'aretz" daily newspaper LTD, Eyal Toueg]

Patrick Geary
gearyPatrick is Andrew W. Mellon Professor at Princeton, Patrick Geary’s work extends over a vast range of topics in medieval history, both chronologically and conceptually—from religiosity and social memory to language, ethnicity, social structure, and political organization. 


David Gross
gross2004 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Professor Gross is Permanent Member and holder of the Chancellor's Chair Santa Barbara, U.S.A. and Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.


Wang Gungwu
Gungwu-cropped-125x150Professor Gungwu is an internationally renowned historian famed for his scholarship on the history of the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, as well as the history and civilisation of China and Southeast Asia. He was a history professor at the University of Malaya and the Australian National University and the vice-chancellor at the University of Hong Kong. He is currently a professor emeritus at the Australian National University, and University Professor of the National University of Singapore.

Anthony Julius
juliusProfessor Julius is a highly regarded litigation lawyer – currently Deputy Chairman of Mishcon de Reya (UK) and an acknowledged legal expert on defamation, privacy and reputation management. He is also a noted scholar and author who has written extensively on law, literature, art, and culture. Professor Julius has recently joined UCL as the inaugural Chair in Law and the Arts.

Gil Kalai
kalaiGil Kalai is the Henry and Manya Noskwith Professor of Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Professor of mathematics and of computer science at Yale University.



Jean-Marie Lehn
lehnProfessor Lehn is 1987 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, together with Donald Cram and Charles J. Pedersen. Jean-Marie is Professor at the University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Study (USIAS), Honorary Professor at the Collège de France in Paris and Emeritus Professor at the University of Strasbourg. 


Atul N Parikh
ParikhAtul N. Parikh is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science at the University of California, Davis. In 2011, he assumed Visiting Professorship in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Nanyang Technological University. His research interests include fundamental and applied research in areas spanning soft biomimetic matter and synthetic biology

RabinoviciProfessor Rabinovici is a behavioral neurologist and clinician-scientist at the University of California San Francisco. His work applies advanced brain imaging techniques to investigate the biological mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and related neurodegenerative disorders, and to improve the diagnosis and care of patients suffering from these illnesses. He holds the Edward Fein and Pearl Landrith Distinguished Professorship in Memory & Aging.


Ernst Rank
rankProfessor Rank conducts research on numerical mechanics and building informatics. He is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) of TUM Munich having been First Vice President of TUM from 2002-8, founding Director of the International Graduate School of Science and Engineering (IGSSE) (2006), Chairman of the University Council of TU Dortmund (2007) and Director of the TUM Graduate School from 2008-13. 


Bo Rothstein
rothsteinProfessor Rothstein is an internationally acclaimed Swedish political scientist who holds the August Röhss Chair in Political Science at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He is a member of the Swedish Government's Advisory Board for Research Policy. Rothstein is a contributor to Swedish public debate about politics and academic freedom, and his research interests include comparative quality of government institutions, social capital, and political corruption.

Michel Spiro
MichelSpiroProfessor Spiro is Vice-President of the French Physical Society and President Designate of the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics, and was President of CERN council 2010-2013. Research in particle physics led him to participate in the discovery of intermediary W and Z bosons (UA1 experiment) and he was also involved in the study of particles from the cosmos, participating in the Gallex experiment detecting solar neutrinos and searching for dark matter (Eros) in the brown dwarf experiment.

Geoffrey West
Geoffrey-WestProfessor West is Distinguished Professor and Past President of the Santa Fe Institute, a visiting Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College, London, a Fellow of the American Physical Society and an associate fellow of the Said Business School at Oxford University. He is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests are fundamental questions in physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles, their interactions and cosmological implications.

Ada Yonath

Professor Yonath is the director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science. She is 2009 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry for her studies on the structure and function of the ribosome.


ICA Fellows

fellows 1Vahid AryadoustNational Institute of Education, Singapore
V V Binoy, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore
Anupam ChattopadhyayNanyang Technological University, Singapore
Willem Hendrik GravettUniversity of Pretoria, South Africa
Hanjo HamannMax Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Germany

fellows 2

Ulrich (Uli) Heisserer, DSM Materials Science Center, The  Netherlands
Wai-Yip HoFreiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
Nkatha KabiraUniversity of Nairobi, Kenya
Isabel KuscheAarhus University, Denmark
Irina KuznetsovaUniversity of Birmingham, United Kingdom

fellows 3

Petra Liedl, The University of Texas, Austin
David Maimon, Georgia State University, USA
Yoh Matsuo (松尾陽), Nagoya University, Japan
Katrien Pype, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom 

fellows 4Tom SchonbergTel Aviv University, Israel
Michael Smolkin
, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Carla Aparecida Arena Ventura
University of São Paulo, Brazil
Al WilsonUniversity of Birmingham, United Kingdom

March 2018 - IAS NTU, Singapore

19th - 27th March 2018
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The ICA 3 Programme is now available to download.





March 2019 - IAS UoB, UK

19th - 27th March 2019
Host: University of Birmingham, West Midlands, UK

More information coming soon!

The Host Institutes


The Nanyang Technological University Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) was established in July 2005 to provide Nanyang Technological University's science and technology initiatives with a "Nobel boost" and to establish the hallmarks of science at the highest level. IAS is advised and guided by a committee of world-renowned scientists, including 11 Nobel Laureates and a Fields Medalist. Mr George Yeo, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs, is currently the Patron of IAS. IAS at Nanyang Technological University is generally regarded as one of the best Institutes of Advanced Studies in the Asia Pacific region. The Institute hosts a significant number of Nobel Laureates and Fields Medalists every year and organizes a large number of high impact, international conferences, workshops and schools across many disciplines in the Asia Pacific region.  The Institute has helped to forge interdisciplinary research and close collaboration between Nanyang Technological University and major centres of research around the world, and it has inspired numerous talented youths through its many programs and allowed them to interact closely with eminent visitors and speakers around the world. The multidisciplinary topics include physics, chemistry, engineering, biomedical imaging, materials science, maths, liberal arts, urban planning, etc.By establishing its close rapport with active scientists and distinguished scholars from all disciplines, IAS hopes to promote Singapore as a hub for international research and development.

IAS logo

The University of Birmingham Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) aims to promote interdisciplinary research by combining expertise from across the breadth of the University of Birmingham to address major cross-cutting themes that are important, relevant and timely. Established as a dynamic and creative part of the University of Birmingham's research landscape, the Institute of Advanced Studies continues to harness intellectual capital across the University and beyond to the wider international community.



The Institutes of Advanced Studies at University of Birmingham and Nanyang Technological University Singapore are part of a network of IASs across the world - UBIAS. One of the most successful initiatives developed between the members of this group is the Intercontinental Academia (ICA) where ‘scientific exchange’ between generations, disciplines, cultures and continents takes place around a topic or theme.The proposal to create the Intercontinental Academia was accepted at the meeting of the Steering Committee of UBIAS held in March 2012 at the Institute for Advanced Study Jawaharlal Nehru, in New Delhi, India. The initial idea was of the then director of the IAS Israel, Eliezer Rabinovici. The IEA-USP and the IAR (Institute for Advanced Research) of the NagoyaUniversity felt motivated by the insight of the Israeli scientist and decided to be behind the pilot project for this initiative, which operated as a joint venture.

UBIAS 1The members of UBIAS's Steering Committee during the meeting in New Delhi, 2012.

ICA 1 was on the topic Time was held at University of Sao Paulo and Nagoya University (São Paulo April 2015Nagoya 2016) - please see Dr Gange's report.

ICA 2 was on the topic Human Dignity was held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bielefeld University (Jerusalem March 6-18 2016,  Bielefeld August 2016). 

UBIAS 2 The participants of the Time Intercontinental Academia

UBIAS 3The participants of the Human Dignity Intercontinental Academia