The gifts of $5 million each from the Kavli Foundation and an alumnus and his wife who wish to remain anonymous will name the directorship of the institute in memory of the late David N. Schramm, a pioneering UChicago scholar of theoretical astrophysics. The funds will support new research programs in astrophysics and cosmology and an expansion of existing research at the institute, which includes nearly a hundred and fifty members across two departments and two national laboratories.
Best known as a leading authority on the Big Bang model of the formation of the universe, Schramm made fundamental contributions to the primordial origin of elements and the number of families of elementary particles in the universe, merging the fields of particle physics, nuclear physics, and astrophysics in the study of the early universe. A member of the UChicago faculty for twenty-three years, during which time he served as vice president for research and was the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor in the Physical Sciences, Schramm died in 1997 at the age of 52 when the twin-engine plane he was piloting crashed outside Denver.
"Funding from our foundation partners and individual alumni donors is essential to sustain the kind of forward-thinking, collaborative research taking place at the Kavli Institute," said Angela V. Olinto, dean of the university’s Physical Sciences Division. "Both gifts will support leading scientists as they continue to redefine the fields of cosmology and astrophysics in a way that honors David Schramm’s legacy."
"David was a visionary and a big presence. He is missed not only in Chicago and but also in the larger world of science," said Michael Turner, senior strategic advisor at the Kavli Foundation and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and former KICP director at UChicago. "He thought big, pushed boundaries, and continues to inspire us to do the same."
(Photo credit: University of Chicago)