A forward-thinking gift for forward-thinking research.
A Forward-Thinking Gift for Forward-Thinking Research
Peter A. Gilman PhD ‘66 (XIX) is making a major investment in the future of EAPS exoplanet research with his support for the SPECULOOS telescope project.
When Peter Gilman was 13, his brother yanked open an upstairs window during Hurricane Carol to show him how the tops of the trees stilled as the eye of the hurricane passed over their Connecticut home. His fascination with meteorology was sparked, and it eventually led him, via a physics degree at Harvard, to graduate studies with Victor Starr in Course XIX at MIT—his brother, Donald Gilman PhD ‘57, having preceded him in Course XIX by a few years.
With Starr’s encouragement, he decided to apply his knowledge of fluid dynamics to understand the differential rotation and global magnetic fields of the Sun. His PhD thesis forged new ground but, to his dismay, was first rejected for publication before, “it was rescued by Edward Lorenz,” who published it in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences. Gilman’s choice of solar problems after receiving his PhD was also significantly influenced by Jule Charney.
After nearly five decades at NCAR, Gilman is still publishing papers, and his notable career was recognized with the American Astronomical Society’s Hale Prize in 2006, “for his unique insights and substantial scientific achievements in understanding the dynamics of the solar convection zone and the mechanism of the Sun’s magnetic dynamo.” Today, he remains a leader in the field of magneto-fluid dynamics of the Sun and stars, and as Senior Scientist Emeritus at the High Altitude Observatory of NCAR he goes to work daily with his wife Dr. Peggy LeMone, also a Senior Scientist Emerita at NCAR.
But Gilman’s interest in stars extends well beyond our own Sun. After reading about the TRAPPIST-1 system discoveries, and the potential for MIT to join the SPECULOOS consortium—through EAPS postdoc Julien de Wit—by acquiring a dedicated telescope to expand the search for exoplanets around ultra-cool stars, Gilman was inspired to make a gift to help. He decided to establish the Peter A. Gilman Fund with an expendable gift of $100,000, pledged over two years, to help with the SPECULOOS project.
“I just got to thinking,” said Gilman, “I felt it was time to recognize what my MIT education had done for my career and to give back. I was very pleased that MIT was pioneering exoplanet research. MIT has always been, and always will be forward-looking.”
Gilman is using distributions from his retirement fund to fund his gift, which is the largest philanthropic investment he has ever made. EAPS Department Head Rob van der Hilst was delighted, saying, “This gift will help us to move forward with the SPECULOOS project, and to stay on the leading edge of exoplanetary research.”
After receiving news that de Wit had been named the MIT Technology Review’s Under 35 Innovator of the Year (Belgium) just a few days after making his gift, Gilman emailed EAPS to say, “Neat! It makes me begin to feel like I am a venture capitalist!”
For more information about establishing a
named fund to support the SPECULOOS project
or other EAPS research, please contact:
Angela Ellis, EAPS Senior Development Officer
617-253-5796 | firstname.lastname@example.org
New Labs for EAPS
New gifts from longtime friends of EAPS enable major lab expansion project
EAPS faculty could benefit from state of the art labs in Building 4 as soon as 2020, thanks to the support of EAPS Visiting Committee members Neil Pappalardo ‘64 (VI) and Neil Rasmussen ‘76 (VI-1), SM ‘80 (VI). Their early gifts towards EAPS $30M capital fundraising campaign for building needs have helped to secure 10,000 square feet of desirable wet lab space that will be redesigned and customized for EAPS researchers.
Neil Rasmussen and Anna Winter Rasmussen stepped forward with a generous $3M pledge for the lab renovation project that will be used to provide climate science research and teaching labs on the fourth floor of Building 4. This gift complements their earlier generous gift to endow the Norman C. Rasmussen Fellowship Fund which supports EAPS graduate students in climate science. Neil, who is also Chair of the EAPS Patrons Circle, has spoken many times about the importance of supporting climate science at MIT.
Neil Pappalardo has been supporting EAPS renovation efforts since 2014 with generous annual gifts. The Pappalardo Fund for EAPS has so far helped to create three modern labs inside the Green Building for some of EAPS newest faculty members: Kristin Bergmann, Andrew Babbin and Matěj Peč. Pappalardo’s priority is to help EAPS renovate the Green Building, but he has kindly agreed to allocate part of the Pappalardo Fund to underwrite the new labs in Building 4.
“We are tremendously grateful to Neil and Anna Rasmussen and Neil Pappalardo as the new labs will ensure that EAPS can continue to recruit world-class faculty and students whose research requires wet labs—especially in our quest to understand climate change and the co-evolution of life and environmental systems on Earth, and perhaps elsewhere,” says Department Head Robert van der Hilst, who sees yet another benefit to the expanded lab space:
“Such an expansion of lab space would not be possible in the Green Building, but locating EAPS faculty in the iconic main building group at the center of campus could also catalyze exciting new synergies—after all, cross-pollination and interdisciplinary work is in the spirit of MIT and one of the hallmarks of EAPS research.”
Story Image: In the McGee Lab, graduate student Christine Chen works to produce a quantitative and precisely-dated record of past hydroclimate changes in the Altiplano-Puna region of the central Andes. Image credit: Kent Dayton
Patrons Circle 2017: Standing Up for Science
Founded in 2015, EAPS Patrons Circle honors donors who have committed a major gift ($75K or more) to support current or future graduate students in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Patrons Circle members ensure that EAPS can attract the brightest and best students and recruit and retain top faculty.
Every year Patrons can meet their students and hear about their progress. In April, they gathered in Kendall Square to enjoy dinner together and to hear some lively talks. Grace B. Kerr Fellow Marie Zawadowicz, a student in Professor Dan Cziczo’s lab, talked about research using mass spectrometry of single aerosol particles to improve our understanding of cloud physics, and postdoc Julien de Wit spoke about the recent TRAPPIST-1 planetary system discovery, and his role leading the planets’ atmospheric characterizations in the quest to seek signs of life.
EAPS Patrons Circle Chair Neil Rasmussen ’76, SM ’80 spoke about early scientists who were willing to risk standing up for science and technology in an age of doubt and to venture controversial views about the possible existence of life on other planets. Rasmussen reflected on recent trends that seem to be leading to the suppression of climate science, advocating eloquently for the continued importance of supporting science and the study of our planet to safeguard our future.
2016-17 Norman C. Rasmussen Fellows Ziwei Li and Tristan Abbot with Patrons Circle Chair Neil Rasmussen.
Professor Dan Cziczo with Patrons Circle member Patricia Callahan and EAPS Development Officer Angela Ellis.
New Patrons Circle members are always welcome.
In this issue
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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