A historic pledge
to sustainability research
This research will no doubt change the world. It may even save the world. It’s that profound.
Dr. M. Sanjaya
Chief Executive Officer Conservation International
Acting on their passionate belief in the power of science to create a more sustainable world, Lynda and Stewart Resnick made an historic pledge to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Their $750 million commitment is the largest ever for sustainability research, the largest in Caltech history, and the second largest to any U.S. academic institution.
Caltech is one of the world’s preeminent science and engineering institutions. The contributions of Caltech's faculty and alumni have earned national and international recognition, including 39 Nobel Prizes.
California has more scientists, more researchers, more Nobel laureates, venture capital, and patents than any place on the globe.
The funding will be used to create a permanent endowment to support innovative research projects that tackle issues of water, energy, food and waste in a world confronting rapid climate change. This will also advance scientific progress within the existing Resnick Sustainability Institute (RSI) across a variety of disciplines, including climate science, decomposable plastics, water and environmental resources, ecology and biosphere engineering, biofuels, and solar science.
Sustainability is the challenge of our times. The Resnick Sustainability Institute will now be able to mount efforts at scale, letting researchers follow their imaginations and translate fundamental discovery into technologies that dramatically advance solutions to society’s most pressing problems.
President, California Institute of Technology
Since its founding on campus in 2009, RSI has united scientists and engineers from across Caltech’s six academic divisions and from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which Caltech manages, to pursue solutions to the most pressing challenges today. In 2018, RSI’s support of renowned Caltech chemist Dr. Frances Arnold resulted in the ultimate honor—a Nobel Prize.
Dr. Arnold was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her pioneering work in Directed Evolution. Out of 188 Nobel laureates between 1901 and 2021, Dr. Arnold is just the fifth woman to earn the Chemistry Prize. She received the award for her work on synthetic enzymes, which led to the creation of more environmentally friendly ways of making drugs, agricultural chemicals, and fuels.
I see a future in which nature gives us a helping hand. Instead of destroying the natural world, why can’t we use it to solve the problems we are facing?”
Dr. Frances Arnold, PhD.
The Resnick’s pledge also helps Caltech fulfill its educational mission by supporting state-of-the-art teaching laboratories and entrepreneurial training, as well as the construction of new research and development facilities—all with an eye toward the sustainability of our planet for future generations.
In May 2022, Caltech broke ground on the Resnick Sustainability Center (RSC), which will serve as the physical hub for the Institute’s sustainability initiatives. The 79,500-square-foot project is on track to earn LEED Platinum certification, the highest level of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, and will be a gateway for sustainability education for all first-year students. Upon entering Caltech, students will be introduced to the concept of sustainability through a reimagined curriculum that grounds their education in an understanding of society’s environmental challenges and instills an imperative to search for solutions across disciplines.
When completed in 2024, the Resnick Sustainability Center will open new figurative portals to sustainability in the realms of research, education, and societal impact.
The achievements that will emerge from this sustainability institute, housed in what will be this world-class center, will help make our world safer, more healthy, more sustainable, and a better home for generations to come.