About Our Participants

Ross AshtonRoss Ashton was born in Sheffield in 1961. Having trained in photography and theatre he moved to London and began to work in video and slide projection. After spending four years in Paris working with a variety of visual media, he began specialising in High Power Projection in 1992. His years of experience have produced an instinctive understanding of the relationship between artwork and structure, light and surface, object and subject. The size and scale of his work has led to his being commissioned for both stand-alone works and broader based large shows designed and created for national and international audiences. His specially commissioned ‘son et lumière’ have received world-wide attention.His reputation for large scale spectacular pieces means that he has created projections as commemorations for governments around the world. He has also collaborated with other artists and lighting designers in the production of shows from Rock & Roll to classical concerts and theatre. His expertise has also been called on for numerous film and television productions. His work has been seen by millions throughout his career and never fails to be thought provoking, moving and exhilarating.

Katherine Bader: Katharine Bader is currently Director at Huron Higher Education Consulting and a PhD Candidate in History at Durham University. She was formerly Assistant Vice Provost at Duke University. Her area of interest is the reception of Arabic Science into England in the 12th Century.

Nader El-Bizri: Professor Nader El-Bizri is the Director of the Civilization Studies Program at the American University of Beirut (AUB), and he is also the Director of the Anis Makdisi Program in Literature at AUB, and the Coordinator of the MA in Islamic Studies at the AUB Centre for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies. Prior to that, he was a Principal Lecturer (Readership scale) at The University of Lincoln Faculty of Architecture, Art and Design, and he was a Research Associate in Philosophy at the IIS from 2002 till 2010. Formerly he held a Lectureship at The Institute of Architecture at The University of Nottingham (2000-2002) where he taught philosophy and architectural theory, and acted as the coordinator of the MA programme in Architectural Theory and Design. Previously he has also taught at Harvard University and The American University of Beirut, and since September 1999 he has been lecturing on classical Arabic sciences at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at The University of Cambridge as an Affiliated Lecturer and Research Scholar. In addition, he is a Chercheur Associé at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris (CNRS, UMR 7219), and he was a Visiting Professor of Visual Studies at the School of Architecture at The University of Lincoln from 2007 till 2010.

Professor El-Bizri received his PhD in philosophy from the Graduate Faculty of The New School for Social Research in New York, after reading philosophy at Harvard University. Earlier, he had earned a Masters degree in architecture from The Harvard Graduate School of Design. Beside his academic undertakings, he has twelve years of professional consulting experience in architecture offices and institutions in Geneva, New York, London, Cambridge and Beirut.

Professor El-Bizri’s academic research interests are mainly in the areas of Greco-Arabic classical traditions in science and philosophy, in phenomenology, and in architectural humanities. He is the author of The Phenomenological Quest Between Avicenna and Heidegger (New York: Binghamton SUNY, 2000), and Epistles of the Brethren of Purity: On Arithmetic and Geometry. An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of EPISTLES 1 & 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2012). He is also the editor of Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. Ikhwan al-Safa’ and their Rasa’il: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2008), and he edited the translation of the voluminous Founding Figures and Commentators in Arabic Mathematics (London: Routledge, 2011), which consists of primary source texts with commentaries by Roshdi Rashed.

He is also the Editor of the ‘Islam Division’ of the Encyclopaedia of Sciences and Religions (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013). Moreover, Professor El-Bizri published widely in peer-refereed academic journals, edited volumes, and encyclopaedias. He has also presented numerous peer-reviewed papers and keynote talks at various international academic conferences and has been a contributor to the classical and cultural supplements of the Arabic international newspaper Al-Hayat, and has been interviewed for Radio programmes and TV documentaries. In addition, he is a member of several learned societies, including The American Philosophical Association (APA), The British Society for Phenomenology, The Architectural Humanities Research Association (Consortium of British Universities), and The International Husserl and Phenomenological Research Society. Professor El-Bizri is also an elected member of the Executive Council of the Société Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences et des Philosophies Arabes et Islamiques. Moreover, he acts as the Co-Editor of a phenomenology book series, published by Kluwer Academic publishers (Dordrecht), and serves on the Editorial Boards of Arabic Sciences and Philosophy (Cambridge University Press journal), the Fundamentals of Scientific Knowledge series (Arab Organization for Translation, Beirut) and the Toposophia series on philosophy and architecture published by Lexington books (Maryland, USA).

His long-term research at the IIS consists of acting as the General Editor (Managing Editor ex officio) of the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity book series, which is published by Oxford University Press in association with the IIS, and consists of Arabic critical editions and annotated English translations with commentaries of the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’. He is also the Co-Manager of a joint institutional project between the IIS and L’Institut Français d’Etudes Arabes in Damascus (Institut Français du Proche Orient), and acts as the Coordinator of the IIS Texts and Translations Series, which is published by I. B. Tauris in association with the IIS, and is also a member of its Editorial Board. Moreover, he is a member of the board of Consulting Editors of the Encyclopaedia Islamica, which is published by E. J. Brill in association with the IIS.

Timothy Farrant: Funded by the Mellon Foundation and the Clarendon Fund, Timothy Farrant is completing a DPhil in Theology at Pembroke College, Oxford under the joint supervision of Prof. Carol Harrison (Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford) and Dr. Giles Gasper (Reader in High Medieval History at the University of Durham). His research focuses on the reception of Augustine in the twelfth century, and the way this informed intellectual approaches to the natural world in England and Northern France. As part of his research, he collaborates with Joshua Harvey on the Medieval Science project at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is also a contributing member of the Ordered Universe Project based at the University of Durham.

Luke Fidler: Luke Fidler is a PhD student in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. He studies the history of early- and high-medieval art. He also regularly contributes criticism on contemporary art to a variety of publications. His recent scholarship has examined high-medieval cupboards, Anglo-Saxon sculpture, and the reception of Robert Grosseteste among avant-garde filmmakers.

Giles Gasper: Giles Gasper is Reader in High Medieval History at Durham University. He specializes in the intellectual history of the high middle ages (11th-13th centuries), particularly in the development of theology. He also has interests in Patristic and early medieval thought, and in the history of science. He is principal investigator on the inter-disciplinary Ordered Universe project (https://ordered-universe.com/) to edit, translate and contextualise the scientific works of Robert Grosseteste (c.1170-1253), working with an international team of scientists, educationalists and medievalists. The Dimensions of Colour: Robert Grosseteste’s De colore (2013) emerged from the pilot project for Ordered Universe. Subsequent volumes will be published by Oxford University Press in a seven volume series The Scientific Works of Robert Grosseteste. The Ordered Universe has active collaborations with a variety of creative artists, namely Cate Watkinson, Colin Rennie and other glass artists at the UK National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, Sculptor Alexandra Carr, Filmmaker Alan Fentiman and Projection Artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid. Carr and Gasper direct a Leverhulme Trust funded Artist in Residence placement Sculpting with Light, with principal activities in Durham in 2017. Gasper is a regular participant in the UK National Festival of Humanities, represented the Arts and Humanities Research Council at the Cheltenham Science Festival in 2015 (with Hannah Smithson and Tom McLeish), and featured on BBC Radios 4’s In Our Time. Gasper, together with Smithson and McLeish, was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Engagement at the University of Oxford (2016).

A second strand of research focuses on notions of ‘economy’ and order in the High Middle Ages. This has focal points on medieval monastic thought, the theology of Creation and hexaemeronic commentary, Salvation theology and medieval food culture. Recent work in this area includes a study of twelfth-century culinary recipes for the English Historical Review co-authored with Faith Wallis (McGill), and forthcoming edited volumes on Biblical Exegesis in the Middle Ages, and Spiritual and Material Economies in Northern Europe Gasper was an international partner in a major inter-disciplinary research project, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, running from the Cultural Historical Museum, University of Oslo, on ‘Economies of Salvation in the Middle Ages’, 2013-2015 working particularly with numismatists, liturgists and archaeologists. Money and the Church in Medieval Europe, 1000-1200 (co-ed. with S. Gullbekk, 2015) was produced from this project. Gasper has written extensively on Anselm of Canterbury, including St Anselm of Canterbury and His Legacy (2012) and his earlier Anselm of Canterbury and His Theological Inheritance (2004) and papers on various aspects of Anselm’s thought, career and posthumous reputation

Joshua Harvey: Joshua Harvey is currently reading for a DPhil in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, under the joint supervision of Clive Siviour and Hannah Smithson. His first degree was an integrated Masters in Biochemistry at Oxford under the supervision of Louis Mahadevan, with a specialization in intracellular signaling, carrying out research as a visiting student at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. Joshua’s current research explores physical and perceptual scientific observation and theory from the medieval period, based at the Departments of Engineering Science and Experimental Psychology, as well as TORCH (the Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities).

 Neil Lewis: Neil Lewis is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. His research focuses on English philosophy in the first half of the thirteenth century, with a special interest in Robert Grosseteste. He is a core member of the Ordered Universe Project. He has published numerous papers on Grosseteste, and has a soon to be in print edition, translation and study with the British Academy of the two recensions of Grosseteste’s De libero arbitrio. He is also an editor with the Richard Rufus of Cornwall Project, led by Professor Rega Wood, which is editing Rufus’ body of works. With Rega Wood he has prepared an edition of Rufus’ commentary on Aristotle’s De generatione et corruptione, published by the British Academy, and an edition of Rufus’ shorter Metaphysics commentary, the Memoriale in Metaphysicam Aristotelis, available on the project website (http://rrp.stanford.edu/index.shtml). Together with Cecilia Panti, Pietro Rossi and Greti Dinkova-Bruun he is also currently preparing, for the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, a new edition of Grosseteste’s shorter theological and philosophical works.

Tom McLeish: Tom McLeish is Professor of Physics at Durham University and also chairs the Royal Society’s education committee. After a first degree in physics and PhD (1987) in polymer physics at Cambridge University, a lectureship at Sheffield University, in complex fluid physics, lead to a chair at Leeds University from 1993. He has since won several awards both in Europe (Weissenberg Medal) and the USA (Bingham Medal) for his work on molecular rheology of polymers, and ran a large collaborative and multidisciplinary research programme in this field from 1999-2009 co-funded by EPSRC and industry. His research interests include: (i) molecular rheology of polymeric fluids); (ii) macromolecular biological physics; (iii) issues of theology, ethics and history of science. He has published over 180 scientific papers and reviews, and is in addition regularly involved in science-communication with the public, including lectures and workshops on science and faith. In 2014 OUP published his book Faith and Wisdom in Science. He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993, in the dioceses of Ripon and York. From 2008-2014 he served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2012 he was made Vice-President of Science by the Institute of Physics (IoP).

Cecilia Panti: Cecilia Panti is assistant professor of History of Medieval Philosophy at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy, in the Department of Studi letterari, filosofici e di storia dell’arte. She graduated cum laude in Philosophy at the University of Siena (1988), received her M.A. in Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto (1990) and her PhD in Latin Medieval Philology at the University of Florence (1995). She has won awards and post graduate fellowships and research grants from the Universities of Siena and Florence and has collaborated on several research projects at the universities of Siena, Rome, Pavia-Cremona, Turin. She is a member of the core team of the international project “The Ordered Universe: Interdisciplinary Readings in Medieval Science”, based at the University of Durham and Oxford for the study, translation and edition of Robert Grosseteste’s scientific works, and co-investigator of the project funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust (2016-2018) “Lorenzo Ghiberti’s 3rd Commentary: An English Translation and Historical/Theoretical Examination” (PI Prof. Nicholas Temple), based at the University of Huddersfield.

Her interests ranges from medieval natural philosophy to the arts of the quadrivium, that is, mathematics, cosmology and astronomy and harmonics (mathematics of music). Cecilia Panti has written extensively on Robert Grosseteste’s natural philosophy including the publication of new critical editions of his early cosmological works (Florence 2001) and of his influential treatise on light De luce (2011). Her projected editions include a new volume of editions of Grosseteste’s shorter theological and philosophical works, together with Neil Lewis, Pietro Rossi, and Greti Dinkova-Bruun, for the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

Her publications also include a book on speculative music in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Rome, 2008) and several articles related to Robert Grosseteste (ontology, cosmology, physics and metaphysics of light), Roger Bacon (cosmology and his scientific method), and the British scientific tradition in thirteenth century, particularly the Franciscan masters at Oxford. She has been speaker and invited speaker at numerous conferences in academic institutions in Italy (Rome, Palermo, Florence, Trento, Todi, Spoleto, etc.) and abroad (Toronto, Lincoln, Koeln, Galway, Lausanne, Freiburg, Moscow, Paris).

Nicola PolloniNicola Polloni received his BA and MA in philosophy at the University of Siena, where he had the good fortune to be introduced by brilliant scholars to some of the never-ending problems of Medieval philosophy. After a first period of study of Augustine’s doctrine of divine grace (BA thesis), he moved on to a more peculiar Medieval figure: Dominicus Gundissalinus, philosopher and translator from Arabic into Latin in Toledo during the 12th century. He worked on Gundissalinus’ De processione mundi (a metaphysical and cosmological treatise) and its Arabic sources during his MA.

After having defended his MA thesis, he was awarded a PhD position at the University of Pavia, in international cotutelle with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and under the supervision of Alexander Fidora and Chiara Crisciani. During the three years of his PhD, he worked on Gundissalinus’ Arabic and Latin sources, pointing out the peculiarities of his reflection and his particular use of Avicenna’s and Ibn Gabirol’s philosophical texts. During the Spring semester 2015 he was awarded the SIEPM fellowship at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), where he studied the theoretical connections between Gundissalinus and Thierry of Chartres. In November 2015 he defended his doctoral dissertation in Pavia and, shortly after that, was awarded a research grant by the Chimaera foundation in order to carry on his work on Gundissalinus, focusing on the English Wirkungsgeschichte the Toledan texts had in the 13th century (January-June 2016). Since July 2016 he has been Junior Research Fellow in Medieval Philosophy at Durham University (UK), where he is working on the reception of Avicenna’s, Ibn Gabirol’s and – of course – Gundissalinus’ metaphysics by Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon.

During the past few years he has published various contributions, including a philosophical introduction to Gundissalinus (Domingo Gundisalvo, Filósofo de frontera, Fundación Ignacio Larramendi, Madrid 2013), and studies on the textual reception of Avicenna and al-Farabi in the De processione mundi . The overall results of his PhD will be published next year (Glimpses of the Invisible: Doctrines and Sources of Dominicus Gundissalinus’ Metaphysics), together with a volume on the Medieval transcultural exchange of knowledge edited by Alexander Fidora and himself (Appropriation, Interpretation and Criticism: Philosophical and Theological Exchanges Between the Arabic, Hebrew and Latin Intellectual Traditions). In 2018 another volume will be published: Solomon Ibn Gabirol: Sources, Doctrines, and Influence on Medieval Philosophy edited by Marienza Benedetto, Lucas Oro, and himself.

Brett Smith: Brett Smith is currently writing his doctoral dissertation on Robert Grosseteste (c.1168-1253) at the Catholic University of America.  His dissertation investigates Grosseteste’s division of the powers of the soul into aspectus (lit. vision) and affectus (lit. affect). It also examines some of the principal ways this psychological doctrine shapes Grosseteste’s views on salvation, spiritual formation, and epistemology. In addition to medieval theology, his principal research area, he has cross-specialized in medieval philosophy and paleography, as well as the study of Augustine. His primary teaching areas are theology, spirituality, and church history.

Hannah Smithson: Hannah Smithson’s first degree was in Natural Sciences (University of Cambridge: 1993-1996). She was introduced to visual science in her final undergraduate year by John Mollon, under whose supervision she subsequently studied for a doctoral degree on visual masking (University of Cambridge: 1996-2000). She spent two years as a post-doc in the USA, with Joel Pokorny in Chicago working on colour adaptation (University of Chicago: 2000-2001), and with Qasim Zaidi in New York City working on colour constancy (SUNY College of Optometry: 2001-2002). She returned to the UK as an Affiliated Lecturer at Cambridge (2002-2003), before moving to London to work with Andrew Stockman on adaptation (Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL: 2003-2005). She took her first lectureship at Durham University (Lecturer 2005-2009; Senior Lecturer 2009-2011) and moved from there to the University of Oxford, where she is currently a Associate Professor in Perception and Tutorial Fellow at Pembroke. She sits on the joint Editorial Board of Perception and i-Perception, and on the Directors’ Board of the International Colour Vision Society (2008-2016). In 2011 she was awarded the Applied Vision Association’s Marr Medal for ‘extensive work on colour vision – from photoreceptors to colour constancy’.

Sigbjørn Sønnesyn: Sigbjørn Sønnesyn is a post-doctoral research fellow at Durham University, currently working on the new critical editions and translations of the scientific opuscula of  Robert Grosseteste. At this moment he is part of a group finalising the editions of Grosseteste’s De artibus liberalibus and De generatione sonorum. He received a Cand. Philol. degree in history, English, and Latin from the University of Bergen in 2002, and a PhD in history from the same University in 2007. He was lecturer at the department of history, University of Bergen, from January to November 2007, and between January 2008 and June 1213 he held a post-doctoral fellowship at the same University. From January 2011 to September 2014 he held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He has also worked as a school teacher. He has published a monograph on William of Malmesbury, William of Malmesbury and the Ethics of History (2012), and has also published on the moral thought of Anselm of Canterbury and John of Salisbury, and the influence of ethics, theology, and liturgy on historical writing in the middle ages.