The Larval Stage of Institutional Development

Krasnow’s larval stage was as a stand-alone institute constituted as a non-profit. It operated out of rental class-B commercial space in downtown Fairfax and had several employees (two of whom are still with us!). The Institute for Advanced Study had grand plans though–even at that time (nearly two decades ago), and moves were afoot for a meeting to be co-sponsored with the Santa Fe Institute which would focus our scientific program towards the intersection of neurobiology, cognitive psychology and computer sciences. There were also plans and money for a dedicated facility (albeit more like a think tank than a place with laboratories), and a seminar series was commenced that also, continues to this day. The initial aspirational models for the Institute were places like the Santa Fe Institute and to a lesser extent Cold Spring Harbor Lab, and Woods Hole. The notion is that we would always be stand-alone and that in a decade or so, there would be bricks and mortar, a powerful governance board that would provide the resources for an endowment and a cadre of scientists who would be principally identified as investigators rather than as academic faculty members.

The larval stage ended in 2002 with the merger with George Mason and the metamorphosis into the mature Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study as a full academic unit of the University. And yet, there are elements of the larval DNA that still remain: one of which is a commitment to the elite post-graduate educational programs offered by our early aspirational peers. While we have buttered our bread over the years since the merger with the development of doctoral programs in neuroscience and computational social sciences, this early notion of running summer short courses remains. The location of course is dramatic and special (the Institute is only 12 miles from the US Capitol Building). We now have superb conference and hotel facilities. And there is a critical mass of both faculty and related content/research that might be offered.

So we’re reactivating that latent part of Krasnow’s genome, left over from our larval era. In the meantime, we enjoy the massive advantages that come from being a part of a large, healthy public research university.