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Caltech and Carnegie Science Announce Partnership to Advance Life, Environmental Sciences Research

Published on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 | 3:57 pm
Pasadena Aerial photo credit: Caltech

Caltech and Carnegie Science have formalized a partnership to advance life and environmental sciences research in Pasadena, further strengthening the city’s reputation as a hub for high-impact innovation and discovery. The agreement, which builds upon historical collaborations in astronomy and the physical sciences, has been in development since March 2020, when Carnegie announced its plans to relocate its life and environmental scientists to Pasadena. As part of the relocation, Carnegie also plans to construct a new state-of-the-art research facility on property purchased from the Institute and situated just blocks away from the Caltech campus.

As result of this new proximity, Carnegie and Caltech scientists will be able to work across institutions and fields, leveraging expertise in specialties ranging from genomics to global ecology to biosphere engineering to planet-scale dynamics in order to address some of the most significant global challenges and to expand our foundational understanding of the origins of life on Earth.

“Caltech and Carnegie have followed remarkably similar scientific trajectories through their histories,” says Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. “We welcome the opportunity to more deeply connect these pursuits by building with focus and intention new collaborations in astronomy and the life and environmental sciences.”

This partnership allows Caltech and Carnegie to move forward on their commitments to develop research facilities and programs in Pasadena that will advance a new approach to studying the natural world, echoing the decades of collaboration between scientists from the two institutions in astronomy and physical sciences. Astronomer George Ellery Hale, for instance, played a foundational role in both institutions; Hale was one of Caltech’s founders and helped to mobilize Carnegie’s expansion through his instrumental involvement in the development of the Mount Wilson Observatory and, later, the Palomar Observatory. Seismologist Charles Richter and others performed trailblazing research with the Seismological Laboratory, which was jointly operated by Carnegie and Caltech in the 1920s and 1930s.

As part of this arrangement, Carnegie and Caltech scientists have already started to collaborate at the Institute’s Pasadena campus, where a few Carnegie scientists now have lab spaces. Other Carnegie scientists will arrive in 2025 and work in a neighboring facility.

“I know that Caltech shares our desire to use discovery science to understand our world and to improve our lives and the health of our planet. I am confident that deepening our historic partnership will make a decisive impact on the research enterprise,” said Carnegie president Eric D. Isaacs in an announcement.

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