Western Institute for Advanced Study

A meeting of minds and effort

Mission

Our mission is to facilitate scientific research for the greater benefit of humanity. The Western Institute for Advanced Study supports efforts to solve historically-intractable problems in mathematics, physics, and the biological sciences. We foster a highly interdisciplinary and open atmosphere to promote intellectual progress.

Ruling year info

2019

Scientific Director

Izi Stoll

Main address

1312 Seventeenth Street Suite 745

Denver, CO 80202 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

83-4061510

NTEE code info

Human Service Organizations (P20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2020 and 2019.
Register now

Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

There are a number of historically intractable questions in the fields of mathematics, physics, and biology. Despite enormous leaps forward over the past hundred years, many outstanding problems remain unsolved.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

2018/2022 Grand Challenge - The physical basis of consciousness

A mechanistic explanation of consciousness has long proved elusive to philosophers and scientists. It is simply not understood what perceptual experience - the stream of thought - is, or how mental states are produced by the operations of neural networks, or how we might be able to initiate volitional action. The goal of this year's grand challenge is to devise a theory which provides a mechanistic framework for cognitive processes and a plausible physical explanation for thought, in terms of non-deterministic computation. The 2018 effort successfully generated a theory which satisfies these requirements by combining the laws of neuroscience, information theory, and physics. This work came together with a follow-up effort in 2022 and is currently undergoing peer review.

Population(s) Served
Researchers
Students

A long-standing challenge in physics is reconciling quantum mechanics and general relativity. At quantum scales, a fundamental uncertainty in the position and momentum of a particle renders difficulty in measuring the curvature of space-time at its exact location. Meanwhile, at cosmological scales, the curvature of space-time appears irregular and dynamic. The goal of this year's grand challenge is to devise a theory which describes the curvature of the universe using force laws rather than empirically-derived constants which are not valid at every scale, and further to determine what this theoretical framework says about the earliest stages of the universe. The results of this initial effort are being compiled into a report; a follow-up effort will take place in 2025.

Population(s) Served
Students
Researchers

In the nineteenth century, Ludwig Boltzmann and Willard Gibbs determined the mathematical law for entropy, a quantifiable amount of disorder in thermodynamic systems. Later, Claude Shannon derived an astonishingly similar equation to measure information, the amount of disorder or non-compressibility in a dataset. Several years afterwards, John von Neumann extrapolated this equation into higher dimensions for use in quantum mechanics. Yet a functional link between these laws has remained out of reach, despite the common element of probabilistic mechanics which provides the foundation for thermodynamics, computing, and quantum theory. The grand challenge for 2020 is to address the implications of living in a probabilistic world that physically generates thermodynamic entropy. The results of this initial effort are being compiled into a report; a follow-up effort will take place in 2024.

Population(s) Served
Researchers
Students

The complexity of computational problems can be classified by the time resources required to identify a solution. Computational problems which can be solved in polynomial time by a deterministic Turing machine are classed as P. By contrast, NP problems can be verified in polynomial time but cannot be solved in polynomial time with deterministic computing methods. NP-hard problems include decision problems, search problems, and optimization problems which can be reduced in polynomial time from L to H, where H is a harder computation than L. NP-complete problems are problems which are both NP and NP-hard. The outstanding question is whether problems in this computational complexity class can be practically solved with non-deterministic computing methods. The 2021 effort is focused on studying what operational laws might guide non-deterministic computing at room temperature. The results of this initial effort are being compiled into a report; a follow-up effort will take place in 2023.

Population(s) Served
Researchers
Students

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Researchers, Students

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our goal is to advance scientific progress. We provide the time and space for researchers to identify novel solutions to long-standing problems, with an open and interdisciplinary atmosphere to explore the uncharted territory between established fields. Overall, we aim to create a home for academic scholarship, for the greater benefit of society.

Each year, we issue a new Grand Challenge in the field of mathematics, physics, or the biological sciences. We then devise a dedicated team of fellows who are highly motivated and well-equipped to pursue the research question. Fellows are given support to pursue solutions to the annual Grand Challenge, using their own methodology and working in collaboration with other researchers who have complementary expertise. Research findings undergo a full peer-review process and are made freely available to the public through open-access publication.

The Founder and Scientific Director is currently leading efforts to achieve the organizational goals and the scientific goals of the organization. With funding in the next year, we will hire an Executive Director and an Institute Manager to handle organizational governance and administrative matters, so the Scientific Director can focus on developing research partnerships, identifying Fellowship Awardees, and supporting progress on the annual Grand Challenges. To further enhance this shared leadership structure, we are currently expanding our Board of Governance Advisors and our Board of Scientific Advisors. The inclusion of additional highly-trained experts in both organizational governance and scientific research will significantly increase the scope and impact of our operations.

Our Founder and Scientific Director kicked the Western Institute for Advanced Study into gear by tackling the first Grand Challenge. Building on this momentum, we will continue to issue Grand Challenges and recruit experts in those fields to tackle these long-standing scientific problems through our Fellowship Award program.
2018/2022 Grand Challenge - Research Question - The physical basis of consciousness
A mechanistic explanation of consciousness has long proved elusive to philosophers and scientists. It is simply not understood what perceptual experience - the stream of thought - is, or how mental states are produced by the operations of neural networks, or how we might be able to initiate volitional action. The overall goal of this Grand Challenge is to devise a theoretical framework for understanding consciousness in accordance with physical laws.
2018/2022 Grand Challenge - Theoretical Approach - The physical basis of consciousness
Qualitative perceptual content, predictive cognitive models, and non-deterministic behavioral outcomes emerge naturally from cortical neural network activity. In these circuits, upstream inputs converge onto computational units which are sensitive to probabilistic particle states in gating signaling outcomes. This encoding process physically generates information, or a probability distribution of possible system states. Internal consistencies then reduce that broad probability distribution into a single thermodynamically-favored system state. This time-dependent computational process effectively encodes the state of the local environment into the system.
2018/2022 Grand Challenge - Results Reported - The physical basis of consciousness
A posted lecture with a technical summary of the theoretical framework: https://youtu.be/YcXYEeOCHa4
A posted lecture with a non-technical summary of the theoretical framework: https://youtu.be/hAazbzh21jc
An interview with Scientific Director Dr. Izi Stoll: https://youtu.be/AAibdhCoeqk
Abstract presented at The Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting: Chicago, 8-11 Nov 2021
Abstract presented at The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness: Amsterdam, 11-15 Jul 2022
Abstract presented at The Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting: San Diego, 12-16 Nov 2022
Manuscripts are currently under peer review.

Financials

Western Institute for Advanced Study
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Western Institute for Advanced Study

Board of directors
as of 10/28/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr Izi Stoll

Izi Stoll

Nathan Cassell

Phylecia Jones

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/28/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data