The Science Program explores areas where we can drive significant scientific advances beyond our major core investments with the California Institute of Technology, the Marine Microbiology Initiative, a plant science collaboration with HHMI and the Thirty Meter Telescope.
Approximately 25% of our portfolio is dedicated to grants that fund unique and promising research in a broad range of scientific disciplines, to advance scientific innovation and discovery.
How We’re Making a Difference
Some examples of our program grants include:
- Shortly after the 2011 tsunami in Japan, the Foundation funded the first international expedition to assess the impact of radiation released into the Pacific Ocean from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. The project enhanced global collaboration, the sharing of scientific data and our understanding of how radioactivity can impact ocean life and health around the world.
- Our grant to the Carnegie Institution of Washington helped scientists create groundbreaking tools called the Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System, which creates high-resolution 3D digital maps from the air. The tool allows scientists to take 500,000 detailed photographs of individual trees per minute, which can help them understand forests at an unprecedented scale and in remote areas, mapping the structure of a forest and understand its chemical properties and growth cycle.
- The Public Library of Science changed the face of science publication by offering research articles to the world for free. The Foundation, seeing the enormous promise of such open access, was the project’s first funder for what at the time was an unorthodox and high-risk endeavor. The made breakthrough research more accessible and useful not only to scientists, but to physicians, entrepreneurs, students and anyone else around the world interested in understanding scientific advances.
- Researchers, with funding by Moore for remotely operated instruments, were able to study Antarctic lakes hidden kilometers below the ice surface. It’s yielding an understanding of past, present, and future states of this geologically and climatically important region of the Earth.
The Foundation also uses Program Grants to explore potential major future investments. Some current examples are:
- Emergent Phenomena in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics: We’re exploring the exotic and unexpected properties of materials that arise when groups of electrons synchronize their motions. We expect this research to lead to discoveries that rival the impact of superconductors today.
- Imaging Molecular Interactions: We’re developing higher-resolution imaging of living cells to better understand how cells work and potentially discover new cellular processes.
- Science Learning: We’re building understanding around what sparks deep scientific curiosity among children to cultivate a lifelong interest and engagement in science. We want to improve society’s understanding of the inherent value of science and in doing so, create a more informed and curious public. These efforts are leveraging our investments in Science and Technology Museums.