The Charles E. Kaufman Foundation, a supporting organization of the Pittsburgh Foundation, has awarded grants totaling $1.8 million in support of cutting-edge scientific research at Pennsylvania universities.
Through its New Recipients focus area, the foundation awarded grants of $150,000 over two years to scientists making the transition to academia. Grant recipients include Rachel Bezanson (University of Pittsburgh), whose research is focused on the formation and evolution of large elliptical galaxies, which seem to grow by cannibalizing neighboring galaxies; and Gregory Pask (Bucknell University), who is researching pheromone detection systems that ant species use to communicate.
And through its New Initiatives focus area, which targets investigators with a strong record of accomplishment who are pursuing innovative interdisciplinary approaches to a research question, the foundation awarded two-year grants of $300,000 to Carnegie Mellon's Andrew J. Gellman and the University of Pittsburgh's David Waldeck ("Spin Chemistry as the Basis for Enantioselective Surface Chemistry"); Penn State's Sarah Shandera, Donghui Jeong, and Chad Hanna ("Sub-Solar Mass Black Holes as a Gravitational Wave Probe of the Hidden Universe"); Penn's Michael Platt, Maria Geffen, and Brian Litt ("Optimizing Optogenetics in the Primate Brain"); and Penn State's Noel Giebink and Kenneth Knappenberger ("Polariton Chemistry").
Upon his death, Kaufman, a chemical engineer with a lifelong interest in scientific research with the potential to improve human life, left $50 million to the Pittsburgh Foundation.
"Charles Kaufman was a visionary in recognizing that collaborative and interdisciplinary research could lead to huge quality-of-life improvements across the landscape of human experience," said Pittsburgh Foundation president and CEO Lisa Schroeder. "He committed his philanthropy to our foundation to ensure that what was funded followed that vision, and I believe these grants are evidence that the Scientific Advisory Board has done just that. The funded projects offer real prospects for breakthroughs."