$750 Million to Caltech for Environmental Sustainability Research from Stewart and Lynda Resnick

By on September 28, 2019

Philanthropists and entrepreneurs Stewart and Lynda Resnick have announced a pledge of $750 million to Caltech for cutting-edge research into the most pressing challenges in environmental sustainability. The pledge is the largest ever for environmental sustainability research, the largest in Caltech’s history, and the second-largest gift to a U.S. academic institution. The Resnick’s commitment will become part of Caltech’s Break Through campaign, an ambitious philanthropic initiative that will provide Caltech’s remarkable scholars and inventors with resources to discover and innovate for generations to come.

The $750 million pledge will help support Caltech’s investigators as they pursue research in water and environmental resources, climate science, energy, solar science, biofuels, decomposable plastics, and ecology and biosphere engineering. Ultimately, this initiative will bring together experts from across the physical sciences, life sciences, and engineering to advance novel solutions to problems that extend beyond a single discipline. A permanent endowment will be established to fund the work of researchers across Caltech’s academic divisions and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech manages for NASA.

“In order to comprehensively manage the climate crisis, we need breakthrough innovations, the kind that will only be possible through significant investment in university research,” says Stewart Resnick, chairman and president of The Wonderful Company and a senior member of the Caltech Board of Trustees. “Science and bold creativity must unite to address the most pressing challenges facing energy, water, and sustainability.”

In recognition of the Resnick’s most recent pledge, Caltech will construct a new 75,000-square-foot building, to be named the Resnick Sustainability Resource Center. The center, which will serve as the hub for energy and sustainability research on campus, as well as the home of state-of-the-art undergraduate teaching laboratories, will amplify and expand the work of the Resnick Sustainability Institute (RSI) founded in 2014 by the Resnicks and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

In just its first few years RSI-supported research has provided unprecedented insights into carbon-dioxide sequestration in the ocean, opening up a number of possible applications for removing carbon in the atmosphere; led to the discovery of novel processes to reduce the carbon footprint of materials such as cement; and created new techniques for treating wastewater and desalinating saltwater through solar-driven heating, electrochemistry, and the use of nanostructured materials.

“Sustainability is the challenge of our times,” says Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum. “Stewart and Lynda Resnick’s generosity and vision will permit Caltech to tackle issues of water, energy, food, and waste in a world confronting rapid climate change. The Resnick Sustainability Institute will now be able to mount efforts at scale, letting researchers across campus follow their imaginations and translate fundamental discovery into technologies that dramatically advance solutions to society’s most pressing problems.”