Arnold Beckman (PhD ’28) & Harry Gray
- pH meter
- Solar Army
- Electron transfer
In 1967, just one year after joining the Caltech faculty, Harry Gray met legendary alumnus Arnold Beckman (PhD ’28). Over the course of nearly four decades, the two worked together to envision and actualize new methods, instruments, and facilities to advance the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering.
“It is fitting that future leaders in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering are today’s Beckman-Gray Fellows at Caltech. The namesakes of this fellowship revolutionized chemistry, and this early-career support helps to ensure that Caltech researchers will continue to have the resources they need to push science forward.”
William May, chairman of the board for the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, longtime friend of Beckman and Gray
Beckman had invented the electronic pH meter and the spectrophotometer, devices that revolutionized our understanding of chemistry and human biology. He also advocated policy changes that significantly reduced air pollution in Southern California. Beckman served on the Caltech faculty from 1928 to 1940 and chaired the Caltech Board of Trustees from 1964 to 1974.
Beckman, who died in 2004, was among the country’s most generous benefactors of scientific research and education. His gifts to Caltech totaled more than $71 million. Campus landmarks that bear his name include the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Laboratory of Chemical Synthesis, the Mabel and Arnold Beckman Laboratories of Behavioral Biology, the Beckman Institute at Caltech, and Beckman Auditorium.
Gray, now Caltech’s Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry, became founding director of the Beckman Institute in 1989. His contributions to the field of electron-transfer chemistry earned him the National Medal of Science and the Wolf Prize, and he is known as the “general” of the Caltech Solar Army, which promotes the production of fuels from sunlight. In 2018, he received Caltech’s Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Gray has contributed generously to research and extracurricular funds at Caltech since the 1980s.
To honor Beckman and Gray and support aspiring scientists at Caltech, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation established the Beckman-Gray Fellowships in 2015.