Garnet Chan appreciates a good challenge. A Caltech theorist who works at the interface of theoretical chemistry, condensed matter physics, and quantum information theory, Chan says he is drawn to scientific problems that have long resisted theoretical study.
Doors of discovery open when Caltech has funds at the ready to advance scholars’ best ideas. Discretionary resources empower leadership to nimbly and efficiently support researchers who ask the most difficult and important questions. They allow Caltech to make smart bets by investing in areas where there is potential for high reward. And, most important, they create an environment where faculty and students know they have the support of the entire institution—which inspires even more creativity and courage.
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When asked what makes his alma mater special, Roger Davisson (BS ’65, MS ’66) frames his thoughts with a literary allusion. “Walt Whitman wrote, ‘I contain multitudes,’” he says. “Well, Caltech contains multitudes. The Institute has some of the brightest and best minds, and they gather across disciplines in a way that I don’t think happens elsewhere. For a small school, the amount of stuff that’s going on is truly remarkable.”
Since its public launch in April 2016, Break Through: The Caltech Campaign has broken Institute fundraising records. While Break Through looks to secure Caltech’s future as a source of discovery for the world, the campaign already is making an imprint on campus and beyond by supporting Caltech people who are pursuing big questions and bold ideas.
Osman Kibar (BS ’93) wants to turn back time. His business, Samumed, makes drug therapies that may reboot the body’s capacity to renew damaged or diseased tissue. If these efforts pay off in full, society will see cures for everything from baldness to cancer. According to Kibar, this ambitious endeavor benefits from a little bit of Caltech thinking.
“This is such an extraordinary division, you feel that you want to give back, to be a part of it, and to help make a difference,” says Jackie Barton, who holds the Norman Davidson Leadership Chair in Caltech’s Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (CCE) and is the John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor of Chemistry.
“You ought to leave the world better than you found it,” engineer Allen Davis was known to say. And he did: Davis, who passed away at age 91 in 2015, left more than $60 million from his estate to Caltech.