Professor Alison F. Richard is currently Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.
Professor Alison F. Richard, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, has been elected a Trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is one of nine Trustees of the Institute, a medical research organization dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge in the life sciences.
Richard, 60, spent more than 30 years at Yale University prior to 2003, when she became Cambridge's 344th Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor is the chief academic and administrative officer of the university, and Richard is the first woman to hold the position on a full-time basis in Cambridge's 800-year history.
As Vice-Chancellor, Richard has led several notable initiatives at the university, including the introduction of a needs-based financial aid program for undergraduates, the launch of a $2 billion fundraising campaign, and governance reforms.
Born in Kent, Richard was educated in England and trained as an anthropologist, earning her undergraduate degree at Cambridge and a doctorate from the University of London. She joined the faculty of Yale University in 1972, becoming a full professor in 1986. She was named director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in 1990 and was credited with bringing new vitality to the storied collection. In 1994, Yale President Richard Levin appointed her as Provost with responsibility for overseeing the university's budget and educational policies.
Richard is a world authority on the evolution of complex social systems among primates. She is best known for her research on lemurs in Madagascar, but she has also done field studies in Central America, West Africa, and the foothills of the Himalayas. She has written numerous articles and two major books on the subject, including Primates in Nature (W.H. Freeman, 1985).
The University of Cambridge's reputation for outstanding academic achievement is known worldwide and reflects the intellectual achievement of its students, as well as the research of its faculty. Members of the University have won over eighty Nobel Prizes.
As the University approaches its eight hundredth anniversary in 2009, it is looking to the future. Cambridge today is an international centre of teaching and research in a vast range of subjects: about half of the students study science or technology.
In partnership with Cambridge, HHMI offers a program leading to the Ph.D. through its Janelia Farm Research Campus. It is designed for a small number of well-prepared, highly committed students who spend one year at Cambridge (or the University of Chicago) and then conduct thesis research at Janelia Farm.