Dow Foundation Grants Add New Chapter to Fruitful Collaboration with Caltech

Caltech's Altair Professor of Chemistry Greg Fu and postdoctoral scholar Jens Schmidt work with a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. Shared resources such as the instrumentation funded by The Dow Chemical Company Foundation help advance discovery across Caltech. Credit: Philip Channing
The Dow Chemical Company Foundation has awarded two new grants to benefit Caltech’s Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (CCE), funding faculty start-up investments and leading-edge instrumentation.

These gifts are the latest in a decades-long association between the foundation and Caltech that has advanced research and education in fields including sustainable energy, materials science, and applied physics.

“The industrial-academic partnership between Dow and Caltech exemplifies our two institutions’ commitment to addressing urgent problems that confront the world,” says Thomas F. Rosenbaum, Caltech’s president, holder of the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair, and professor of physics. “We are grateful to The Dow Chemical Company Foundation for enabling chemists and chemical engineers to pursue their best ideas in defining areas such as materials chemistry and renewable energy.”

One grant will underwrite start-up costs for new faculty members, giving CCE a key advantage in attracting creative, original thinkers. This is especially important funding for CCE—an academic program that has pushed the frontiers of discovery and trained generations of scientific leaders by making every recruitment count. This approach has helped the division build an active faculty that includes three Nobel laureates, four National Medal of Science recipients, one recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and 20 members of the National Academies.

The second commitment will help CCE update and maintain equipment shared by all of its scholars—facilities for nuclear magnetic resonance, electron paramagnetic resonance, and mass spectrometry. The funds also will support the cost of teaching graduate students how to use these instruments.

“Dow and Caltech have built a robust relationship, with a history of advancing research that addresses some of society’s toughest challenges. These latest grants from the foundation will expand research opportunities, delivering benefits to engineering, the science community, the Institute, and ultimately society,” says A.N. Sreeram, Dow’s corporate vice president for research and development.

The link between the Institute and Dow stretches back more than 30 years and includes numerous joint research projects as well as steady foundation support for Caltech’s Dow Travel Fellowship and Dow’s Seminar Series in Organic and Organometallic Chemistry.

In 2009, Dow and Caltech initiated a $4.2 million partnership that fueled investigations aimed at creating solar cells from inexpensive, abundant materials. That same year, Dow’s Graduate Fellowship in Chemical Sciences and Engineering was endowed with help from the Gordon and Betty Moore Matching Program.

A $10 million collaboration followed in 2011, providing resources for the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech as well as endowing five graduate fellowships in chemistry and chemical engineering and another five fellowships in energy science. The agreement made Dow a member of Caltech’s Corporate Partners Program, which provides a gateway for exchange and productive collaborations between industry and the Institute.

“Caltech’s leadership in science education and sustainability research make these grants a perfect fit in advancing innovation and building the workforce of tomorrow,” says Rob Vallentine, president and executive director of The Dow Chemical Company Foundation and global director of corporate citizenship at The Dow Chemical Company. “We are pleased to provide resources that enable Caltech faculty and students to advance science and invent important technologies.”

Established in 1979, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation contributes to sustainable communities by supporting strategic philanthropic investments to build the workforce of tomorrow and drive innovative global solutions to address the world’s most pressing challenges. The foundation is a separately governed private foundation designed to carry out the charitable efforts of Dow.