Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study hires assistant director of educational initiatives

J'Nese Williams 600x750

J’Nese Williams will join the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) as the assistant director of educational initiatives beginning on June 1, 2021. She will take over the role from Paul Blaschko, who is stepping down from the NDIAS to assume a full time position as an assistant teaching professor in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy.

As assistant director, Williams will oversee all student programming at the NDIAS, including its Distinguished Graduate Fellowship Program and its undergraduate research fellows. She will also facilitate the creation and implementation of innovative new courses led by faculty fellows and campus partners and will develop funding proposals for the expansion of the institute’s student programs.

“It’s a key priority of the institute to find ways to translate the research we sponsor into innovative opportunities for Notre Dame students,” said Meghan Sullivan, director of the NDIAS and the Wilsey Family College Professor of Philosophy. “Fellows like Pete Buttigieg host ‘pop-up’ classes; our undergraduate researchers apprentice with top scholars for the year; and our Ph.D. students are embedded in a vibrant, interdisciplinary research community. All of these opportunities will be realized and expanded by our assistant director. J’Nese emerged from a very competitive search with the perfect combination of deep scholarly background, demonstrated ability to mentor, and genuinely innovative ideas for new educational programs that will enliven student research at Notre Dame.”

Before joining the NDIAS, Williams was a Mellon Fellow of Scholars in the Humanities at the Stanford Humanities Center. She earned a B.A. in history from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in history from Vanderbilt University. Her dissertation explored the creation and exercise of authority in science and governance by examining the relationships between British colonial botanic gardens and their local communities. Williams’ research has been shaped by her participation in several interdisciplinary research communities, including the Humanities Institute of the New York Botanical Garden, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Linda Hall Library, an independent research library in Kansas City, MO, devoted to science, engineering, and technology.

“I am delighted to join the NDIAS,” Williams said. “I have long been interested in supporting socially engaged interdisciplinary research, and helping students thrive is a passion of mine. I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the impressive NDIAS team and to begin preparing for next year’s student programming.”

The NDIAS convenes an interdisciplinary group of faculty fellows, top doctoral candidates, and undergraduate scholars to study questions that require a joint focus, benefit from sustained research and discussion, and advance our understanding of core issues that affect our ability to lead valuable, meaningful lives. To learn more, please visit


Maria Di Pasquale / Associate Director

Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.3770 / @NotreDameIAS

About Notre Dame Research:

The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please visit or @UNDResearch.

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