In Remembrance

Fred Kavli

Former Trustee, UCSB Foundation

Fred Kavli was a Norwegian physicist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He served as CEO and Chairman of Kavlico Corporation, then went on to establish The Kavli Foundation, which was created to advance science for the benefit
of humanity. Over time, Fred and the Foundation made gifts to the Institute for Theoretical Physics totaling more than $20 million. This has enabled the Institute to expand Kohn Hall and programs, and establish the Institute’s general endowment. In 2002, UCSB formally honored Fred by naming the Institute after him. Fred and the Kavli Foundation have since created several dozen Kavli Institutes around the globe, inspired by the transformational impact and success of their first named Institute, the KITP.

“Science is taking us on an ever-accelerating journey into the future.”


Dr. Walter Kohn

Founding Director, Institute for Theoretical Physics (now KITP)
Nobel Laureate, Chemistry

Under Walter’s leadership, the Institute for Theoretical Physics developed into one of the leading research centers in physics, and has since been widely emulated internationally. Walter won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of the density functional theory, which revolutionized scientists’ approach to the electronic structure of atoms, molecules and solid materials in physics, chemistry, and materials science.

Together with his wife Mara Schiff Kohn, Walter established the Kohn Scholarship in Natural Sciences and Engineering. He also supported KITP and the university through loyal philanthropy. Walter was deeply engaged in matters spiritual and societal, encouraging others to take action. Kohn Hall is named after Walter and commemorates his contributions.

“Physics isn’t what I do; it is what I am.”


Dr. Joseph “Joe” Polchinski

Former Permanent Member of the KITP
Inaugural Pat and Joe Yzurdiaga Professor of Theoretical Physics

Joe Polchinski was renowned for his discovery of D-branes and most recently for his advancement of the black hole firewall hypothesis. He was awarded the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, a prize shared with two other physicists “for transformative advances in quantum field theory, string theory, and quantum gravity.”

Joe’s mentoring of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows is memorable in the field, and has allowed his impact to spread across all of theoretical physics. Together with his wife and UCSB faculty member, Dr. Dorothy Chun, Joe created the Joseph and Dorothy Polchinski Fellowship in Physics, which supports talented KITP graduate students.

“A lot of my research grew out of my work with students and postdocs. It’s our role to teach and educate students.”



KITP Impact Report 2018