To Find an Innovator

Let’s say you believe that research conducted by university-educated engineers and scientists spurs valuable economic activity in the United States. And you want to help make that happen. How would you find the most promising researchers? How would you support their work?

Here’s how the Hewlett Packard–funded David and Lucile Packard Foundation has tackled that challenge.

Every year since 1988, the foundation has asked the presidents of 50 top U.S. universities to nominate just two professors who are early in their careers. Then, a panel of eminent scientists and engineers selects 18 scholars from the 100 nominations. In the fall, the foundation calls up each of those 18—often still assistant professors—to tell them they’ve received a no-strings-attached grant of $875,000 over five years, the now-famous Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering.

  • 533 Packard Fellowship recipients are now associated with 92 institutions.
  • Caltech is one of just seven universities that have 20 or more recipients on their faculty.
  • 24 recipients are at Caltech—more than quadruple the average.
  • Caltech Packard Fellows have gone on to win the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, a MacArthur Fellowship, and other major honors.

Caltech’s unusually strong showing in the ranks of Packard Fellowship recipients is one more indication that if you want to support discovery, you want to support Caltech. With the incredible amount of energy and thought that goes into each faculty hire, it’s no surprise that the Institute’s early-career faculty are disproportionately awarded honors such as this one.

Like the Packard Foundation, Caltech selects extraordinary scholars and frees them to take calculated risks and explore new frontiers. Read about the latest addition to the community of Packard Fellowship recipients at Caltech.

Giving Priorities