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06/28/2007 07:00:00

Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Awards $1 Million Grant to Caltech for New Research Laboratory

PASADENA, Calif.—The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation has pledged $1 million to the California Institute of Technology toward construction of a new building for chemistry and chemical engineering positioned to be the centerpiece of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering's plan for the future.

"I am delighted to thank the foundation for their commitment," said Jean-Lou Chameau, president of Caltech. "This grant represents a key component in moving a project critical to Caltech's future forward."

The new facility will be especially important in the Division's plans to further integrate teaching and research initiatives in chemistry and chemical engineering with other areas of science and engineering. The building is being named the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering in recognition of a lead commitment toward the $35 million project from the three-degree alumnus (BS'44, MS'46, PhD'49) and his wife.

With approximately 60,000 square feet divided among three levels above ground and one basement level, the building will house seven research laboratories, one classroom and three smaller conference rooms. The Schlinger Laboratory will face San Pasqual Walk between the Noyes Laboratory of Chemical Physics and the Beckman Laboratories of Behavioral Biology, and will complete a cluster of buildings with complementary research activities.

Once constructed, the Schlinger Laboratory will support several research groups involved in projects aimed at new and synthetically useful chemical transformations with novel catalysts, the synthesis of complex organic molecules important in biology and medicine, and custom-designed polymers and nanometer-scale structures. Current plans call for the third floor to be committed entirely to organic synthesis.

The facility will house a world-class center for catalysis and chemical synthesis to be led by Nobel Laureate Robert Grubbs, the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry. Increased space will also allow the division to bring in additional faculty who will take research in new directions, including the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and advanced materials, and the creation of alternative energy technologies.

Other scientists to move into the Schlinger Laboratory will expand our understanding of the chemistry of the atmosphere and the nature of atmospheric changes and how these changes influence the biology of the planet-an essential step in predicting how the global climate will evolve in the next few decades.

Through the years, the Parsons Foundation has provided exceptional support for both research and education at Caltech. The foundation was established in 1961 by the late Ralph M. Parsons, founder of the international engineering and construction firm that bears his name. The foundation, since 1974 a separate, free-standing, charitable organization independent of the corporation, awards grants focusing on the areas of higher education, social-impact programs, health, and civic and cultural endeavors.


Written by Robert Tindol