March 10, 2009
The Kavli Foundation has announced the appointment of Dr. Robert W. Conn as its new president – only the second president since the Foundation was established in 2000. Dr. Conn begins serving as the Foundation’s President in late April of this year.
Dr. Conn is a renowned academic and business leader, and an acclaimed scientist whose research is focused on plasma physics and fusion energy development. Most recently, he served as a Managing Director of Enterprise Partners Venture Capital (EPVC), a leading venture capital firm that has invested over $1.1 billion in technology and life sciences companies. Prior to EPVC, a 30-year career in academics and research included serving from 1993 to 2002 as Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). While dean, he led the School through a period of unprecedented growth both in scale and reputation, establishing what is today among the top-ranked engineering schools in the United States. Before joining UCSD, Dr. Conn was Professor of Applied Science at the University of California, Los Angeles and earlier, the Romnes Faculty Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He founded the Institute of Plasma and Fusion Research at UCLA and co-founded the Fusion Energy Institute at the University of Wisconsin.
A distinguished member of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Nuclear Society, Dr. Conn will join the leadership of a Foundation that is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.
“Dr. Conn is a scientist whose many contributions to plasma physics, fusion energy and materials have been acknowledged and honored by his colleagues. He is also a leader and administrator whose accomplishments range from building one of the most successful engineering schools in the country to being a key member, as well as founder, of businesses dedicated to the applications of science,” said Fred Kavli, founder and chairman of The Kavli Foundation. “We look forward to Dr. Conn providing the same innovative leadership at the Foundation that has been the cornerstone of his success throughout his career.”
Focusing on astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics, the Foundation’s many programs in support of science include establishing 15 research institutes at some of the world’s most prestigious universities. The Foundation is also the founding partner of the international Kavli Prizes, which honor scientists in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.
“I am delighted and excited to be joining Fred Kavli and team at The Kavli Foundation to help advance the Foundation’s vision and mission,” said Dr. Conn. “In a short period of time, the Foundation has established remarkable institutes around the world, each focused on the creation of basic knowledge in four fundamental scientific fields. The Foundation has more recently established with Norway the highly prestigious Kavli Prizes, whose inaugural year 2008 successfully celebrated the achievements of seven distinguished scientists. I look forward to the challenge of sustaining the mission and vision of Fred Kavli and the Foundation, and to working with the extraordinary partners of the Foundation, from universities to scientific academies worldwide who share this commitment to science.”
In addition to his academic and business contributions, Dr. Conn has served on many advisory committees for the National Research Council, the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Congress and executive branch agencies of the U.S. Government, particularly the Department of Energy (DOE). He has served as chair of the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee of the DOE and, in the late 1990’s, as Chair of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Physics Division Advisory Committee. He is currently a member of the University of California President’s Advisory Committee on Science and Innovation.
Honors include receiving the Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award (presented on behalf of the U.S. president), the Department of Energy’s Distinguished Associate Award, the American Nuclear Society’s Outstanding Research Award and the Curtis W. McGraw Research Award from the American Association of Engineering Education.
Dr. Conn will become the second president of the Foundation. His appointment will follow the retirement of Dr. David H. Auston, who has served as president since 2002. “I wish to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation for the service and leadership of our current president, David Auston, under whom the Foundation has seen such tremendous growth and success,” said Fred Kavli. “He has made an indelible and deep impact on both science and the Foundation, and has set the bar high as we look toward the future.”
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