Aarhus University Seal

10 Years with Interdisciplinary Research: AIAS 2013-2023

This month AIAS celebrates its 10-Year Anniversary. A decade ago, the Institute opened its doors to host research fellows from around the globe, from various research disciplines to work at AIAS on fostering excellent research projects.

Photos: AIAS 10-Year Anniversary on 13 June 2023. Credit: Lise Balsby.

These 10 years of interdisciplinary meetings were celebrated with an Anniversary afternoon featuring celebratory talks, 10 fellows’ science speed lectures, and a panel that looked into the crystal ball of research in the discussion of the topic "Looking to the Future – New Challenges, New Directions?” An event that offered a platform for insightful discussions about the future of ‘Institutes for Advanced Study.’

A multisensory exhibition "Arctic Places - Arctic Faces" showcased captivating photos of three locations of the Arctic and offered participants a Virtual Reality tour to Northeast Greenland - all prepared by 2020 AIAS fellow, ecologist and photographer Jeff Kerby, who is doing research in the Arctic to map climate change. Professor of cognitive science at Aarhus University Kristian Tylén and band contributed with music during the breaks.

More than 130 guests, collaborators, funders and fellows were joining from near and far to listen in to the total of 18 speed lectures that infused the Anniversary day with energy and inspiration, encapsulating the spirit of AIAS.

Impact of 'a radically interdisciplinary environment’

What can we learn from these 10 years with what 2018 AIAS fellow, political scientist Michael Bang Petersen has termed 'a radically interdisciplinary environment of AIAS'?

Some key points from fellows and invited external speakers at the 10-Year Anniversary Celebration are that:

  • AIAS has successfully boosted long-term relations and cross-disciplinary collaborations with high output as recapped by 2013 AIAS fellow, medical anthropologist Cheryl Mattingly from the University of Southern California, US.
  • AIAS makes you lift your gaze from your own research 'silo' to discover new disciplines and get a broader perspective on your own research as noted by 2014 AIAS fellow, molecular biologist Bjørn Panyella Pedersen from the Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics, Aarhus University.
  • Trust is at the core of AIAS - trust in the intrinsic motivation in the individual fellow which is highly motivating and valued by 2020 AIAS fellow, classicist Helen Van Noorden from Girton College, University of Cambridge.
  • Specialization needs to be complemented with time to thorough rethinking - and IASs can work as catalysts, and support unobstructed pursuit of knowledge as emphasized by Dr Wilhelm Krull, founding director of THE NEW INSTITUTE, Hamburg, Germany.
  • The current multiple crises are global challenges, that have no borders. Global cross-border collaboration is a signature feature of academia and adding the cross-disciplinary environment of IASs is an important tool to help tackle crises and challenges as pointed out by Principal Christina Garsten of Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS), Uppsala.

Mission succeeded – embarking on new missions

Since the opening in June 2013, AIAS has hosted 160 AIAS fellows from more than 50 nations globally, on various different programmes with the AIAS-COFUND Marie Skłodowska-Curie and the Jens Christian Skou fellowships as the major ones. More than 40 associate fellows from Aarhus University are also associated with AIAS, and 12 AUFF-Ukraine research fellows fleeing the war in Ukraine have been hosted here as an immediate response to the war in Ukraine.

With a mission to bring researchers from all disciplines together in one house to foster novel ideas, methods and perspectives for the benefit of society and humankind, the fellows gave in their speed lectures a clear ‘verdict’ of AIAS: “Mission succeeded.”

Numerous of ground-breaking and novel projects have been hatched at AIAS – many of which have received ERC funding and other prestigious research grants, and close to 30 % of the AIAS fellows stay at Aarhus University after their fellowship. The rest 70 % continue their collaboration with Aarhus University, and former fellows continue to work interdisciplinarily after their fellowship at AIAS.

With this seal of approval, AIAS is ready to embark on yet another 10 years with excellent and interdisciplinary research that foster long-lasting fruitful collaborations within AIAS but even more importantly with the larger Aarhus University and Danish research communities to make a difference for society and humankind.


AIAS wishes to acknowledge our main funding bodies: the Aarhus University Research Foundation and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement no 754513 and the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 609033.


Lotte Holm, Head of Secretariat, vice-director, acting director
Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, AIAS
Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B
DK-8000 Aarhus C