In Honor Of

Caltech’s legacy is built on 100-plus years of achievement by visionary researchers and their supporters.

During Break Through: The Caltech Campaign, hundreds of donors have made gifts in honor of Caltech luminaries to celebrate the Institute’s past and help secure a prosperous future.

Arnold Beckman (PhD ’28) & Harry Gray

  • pH meter
  • Spectrophotometer
  • 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-Gray Fellowships

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.

Olga Taussky-Todd

  • Matrix theory
  • Algebraic number theory
  • First woman to receive tenure at Caltech

When Olga Taussky-Todd and her husband, John Todd, came to Caltech in 1957, she was the first woman to receive a formal teaching appointment at the Institute. In 1971, she would become the first woman to receive tenure. She described herself as a “torchbearer for matrix theory,” which she applied to aircraft design, but her first love was algebraic number theory. A prolific mathematician, she received the Mathematical Association of America’s Ford Prize in 1970. Although she retired from teaching at age 70 in 1977, Taussky-Todd remained active in research until her death in 1995.

When I was a student at Caltech, meeting Olga Taussky-Todd made a big impact on me. She was the first female mathematician I had ever encountered. I wanted to recognize her for her contributions to pure and applied mathematics, and for helping to pave the way for women in the discipline.”

Caltech alumna and anonymous donor of the Olga Taussky-Todd Mathematics Prize and the Olga Taussky-Todd Scholarship in Mathematics

Taussky-Todd Scholarship and Prize

In 2016, an anonymous Caltech alumna and her husband endowed the Olga Taussky-Todd Mathematics Prize and the Olga Taussky-Todd Scholarship in Mathematics. Both support undergraduate math majors at Caltech, with preference given to those who identify as female. As a previous tribute to Taussky-Todd’s contributions to the Caltech community, a group of colleagues, friends, and students established the Olga Taussky–John Todd Lecture Program in 1993.

The names of Taussky-Todd and her husband also live on at Caltech through the numerous funds they created, including the Taussky-Todd Distinguished Visitors Program in Pure Mathematics and the Taussky-Todd-Lonergan Professorship. The couple’s support for the Institute exceeded $7 million.

Leon Silver (PhD ’55)

  • Geology instructor to Apollo astronauts
  • Lunar field geology
  • Tectonic evolution of North America

In 1969, when NASA needed someone to train its astronauts to undertake geology field work on the moon, it turned to Leon Silver (PhD ’55). The Caltech geology professor helped the crews of Apollo missions 13 through 17 plan lunar surface experiments, which optimized the scientific haul from U.S. moon landings. Silver, who served on Caltech’s faculty for more than four decades, was named the W. M. Keck Foundation Professor for Resource Geology, Emeritus, in 1996.

Every student who took a field class from Dr. Lee Silver learned the importance of patiently observing every aspect of the Geology, from the tiniest mineral to the largest outcrop. It was this method of teaching the powers of observation that made him so valuable to the Apollo Program as well. He was also a pioneer in connecting Geochemistry and Geology to learn about the Earth’s history. His dedication to Caltech went beyond teaching and research. The fellowship that bears his name honors a mentor, tutor, researcher, professor, and friend.”

Richmond A. Wolf (MS ’94, PhD ’97), Caltech trustee, Associates member, and donor to the Leon T. Silver Fellowship in Geological and Planetary Sciences

Silver Fellowship

Astronaut instruction was only one facet of Silver’s distinguished career. He was an authority on many topics, including the tectonic evolution of the North American continent, the formation of mineral deposits, and the geochemistry of uranium and thorium. Silver loved getting out of the lab and often took Caltech students into the field. He also shared geological insights on trips with the Caltech Associates. Beyond his scientific contributions, he and his wife, Arlana Silver, have provided financial support for numerous programs at Caltech.

The Leon T. Silver Fellowship in Geological and Planetary Sciences was established in January 2013 with gifts from former students, the Agouron Institute, Associates members, and other friends of Silver and Caltech. The fellowship supports graduate students working in geological or planetary sciences and honors its namesake’s dedication to adventurous research that furthers our understanding of this world and others.

Linus Pauling (PhD ’25)

  • Nature of the chemical bond
  • Two Nobel Prizes
  • Molecular biology

Only one person has won two unshared Nobel Prizes, and that person’s history is intertwined with Caltech. Linus Pauling (PhD ’25) said: “Of all the places in the world I might have gone to, Caltech gave me the best education, the best preparation for the work I was to do. The Caltech years were the greatest in my life.”

Linus Pauling, one of the greatest chemists ever, is well known for scientific achievements such as laying the groundwork for quantum chemistry and molecular biology. But I had the good fortune to be a student in his General Chemistry course. He projected an enthusiasm that still inspires me today. It gives me great pride and pleasure to make a gift from myself and my late wife, Miriam, to honor him.”

Stanley Newman (BS ’44, MS ’47)

Pauling Lecture Hall

Pauling pioneered the field of quantum chemistry by using the burgeoning science of quantum mechanics to describe the ways in which atoms join together to form molecules. He transcended scientific boundaries with his discovery of the structure of the alpha helix, a key component of many proteins.

Pauling’s work on the structure of chemical bonds also paved the way for future discoveries such as the double-helix structure of DNA and earned him the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The Nobel committee called Pauling again in 1962 when it awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism against weapons of mass destruction and in favor of nuclear disarmament.

As an instructor of an introductory chemistry course taken by all Caltech freshmen, Pauling enthralled generations of students. To recognize that legacy, the space where Pauling taught was dedicated in his name on his 85th birthday in 1986.

Gifts from alumni, including a $1 million donation from Stanley Newman (BS ’44, MS ’47) and his late wife, Miriam, will help ensure that students can attend illuminating lectures in Linus Pauling Lecture Hall for decades to come. As part of the Break Through campaign, the Institute aims to secure an additional $850,000 in contributions toward a $3.2 million renovation of the room where Pauling inspired the scientific pursuits of so many students.

Bill and Delores Bing

  • Concert Band
  • Chamber Music
  • Theater Arts
  • Visual Arts

Trumpeter Bill Bing joined Caltech as a brass coach in 1970. Soon, he took the baton for the jazz bands, and later the entire band program. In 1979, his wife, cellist Delores Bing, became the first director of Caltech’s chamber music program. She went on to coach more than 1,000 small ensembles, select distinguished visiting mentors, and lead the Institute’s performing and visual arts program.

Bill and Delores Bing created magical opportunities for Caltech people to engage deeply in artistic expression and forget about homework and research for a few blissful hours a week. The Bings’ focus on good musicianship and fun made Caltech’s instrumental programs a refreshing challenge for everyone who participated.”

Elizabeth “Betty” Hong (BS ’02), Clare Booth Luce Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

Bing Fund for the Arts

Caltech student-musicians gained exposure to leading-edge ideas through the Bings’ contemporaneous professional performances. The couple took the stage at vaunted venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, playing with orchestras that included the LA Phil, LA Opera, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Delores also played on more than 100 soundtracks.

In appreciation of the Bings’ service, the Associated Students of Caltech recognized the couple with Excellence in Teaching Awards, and the Caltech Alumni Association granted them honorary membership. Caltech marked their retirement in 2016 with an event that featured hundreds of Caltech students in music, theater, and visual art performances.

The couple’s dedication to music and to enriching Techers’ lives through artistic expression inspired more than 100 donors to collectively endow the William and Delores Bing Fund for the Arts at Caltech.

The Bings also are generous donors to Caltech, having made gifts to the Institute for 29 consecutive years. Additionally, because they have included Caltech in their will, the Bings are members of Caltech’s Torchbearers Legacy Society.