Announcement of the inaugeral conference of the IGC in August. http://www.gravity.psu.edu/igc/ description of what the new institute is to be like and what the purpose is http://www.gravity.psu.edu/igc/igc-web.pdf ==quote== Abhay Ashtekar, holder of the Eberly Chair in Physics and the Director of the current Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry, will serve as the Director of the new Institute and Paul Sommers, Professor of Physics, will serve as the Associate Director. The Institute will integrate the theoretical and observational research carried out in its three centers: the Center for Fundamental Theory, headed by Murat Gunaydin, Professor of Physics; the Center for Gravitational Wave Physics, by Sam Finn, Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Astrophysics; and the Center for Particle Astrophysics by Peter Mészáros, the Eberly Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Chief Theorist for the Swift GRBE mission. For over a decade, the Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry has played a leading role at the interface of physics, mathematics and astronomy. The Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos builds on these strong foundations by making use of the unique strengths in particle astrophysics that Penn State now enjoys. From quantum cosmology to new observational windows, the new Institute will seek greater understanding of the physical universe and its extreme events. Vision The Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos will be dedicated to fostering the highest quality education and research in cosmology, general relativity, gravitational wave astronomy, particle astrophysics, quantum gravity and string theory, focusing on high energy phenomena and fundamental issues in the Science of the Cosmos... ==endquote== notice that Ashtekar's institute IGPG (home base for a lot of the LQG community) has been going over a decade and has been highly successful. A lot of the best LQG people got their PhD here or did postdoc here. Lee Smolin was junior faculty here until he went to Perimeter. The new institute IGC could be seen as an extension of Ashtekar's IGPG to include other stuff: string and foundations studies on the theoretical side and also a lot more on the OBSERVATIONAL side (high energy observational astronomy, gravity wave astronomy etc.) notice that Perimeter Institute which has proven to be very dynamic---prolific and creative research output---has a fair number of string-thinkers as well as a large piece of the LQG and spinfoam action. this may prove to be a pattern for the future. that is: the institutes where there are fresh ideas and noteworthy new work will be HYBRID. Top departments will not be string-only, but will have to be strong in Loop/spinfoam as well. If Harvard theory group and Princeton IAS theory group remain string-only monoculture they will find themselves passed up by Penn State.