Robert C. (Bob) Cowen ‘49 (XIX), SM ‘50 (XIX), a science journalist and editor for the Christian Science Monitor for six decades, is one of our newest EAPS Patrons, having made a generous gift to the Sven Treitel ‘53 Graduate Student Support Fund.
After reading about the newly launched fund in EAPS Scope in 2014, Bob decided to direct his annual gift to MIT to help build the fund. After a couple of years, he decided that he wanted to help even more, and transferred the assets of a previously established trust fund into the Treitel Fund, boosting its balance to over $750,000 received in gifts and pledges.
“I got a terrific education at MIT practically free”, says Bob, “and I want to pay back—the Treitel fund will be my heir.” Bob has now also decided to designate his generous bequest to MIT to benefit the Sven Treitel Fellows of the future.
Bob Cowen is well known by many members of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) for his leadership, particularly in the sphere of public understanding of science, and, since 2001, the AGU has presented the Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism in his honor. Tim Grove, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Geology at MIT, and past President of the AGU (2008-2010), is one of Bob’s admirers: “Many of us know Bob well through his work for the American Geophysical Union. Bob is a tireless advocate of expanding and improving the public’s knowledge of Earth and space science, and he was always enthusiastic and optimistic about AGU members’ latest scientific discoveries.”
Looking back on how his career evolved, Bob notes that it was Karl Compton, then Chairman of MIT, who encouraged him to accept the job offer from the Christian Science Monitor in 1950, even though he was still part-way through his PhD. With science hitting the front pages at that time during the era of the atomic bomb, it was an offer he felt that he could not refuse. He completed his Masters and got to work. His first major story concerned atmospheric circulation across the equator, where he reported on the work of eminent MIT meteorologist Professor Victor Starr. But Bob’s favorite ongoing story has been the dawn of the space age which, even when he began reporting at the time of Sputnik, provided an adventure that otherwise hostile nations could share.
“I believe that EAPS is a very important part of MIT,” says Bob. “EAPS science has major implications for public policy, and scientists need to be prepared to be more and more in the public arena.”
Story Image: Bob Cowen with geophysics graduate student, Bram Willemsen
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For further information on giving opportunities or creating a named fund to benefit the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, please contact:
Senior Development Officer
Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT
617 253 5796
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