Fred Kavli is a Norwegian-born physicist, entrepreneur, business leader, innovator and philanthropist who is dedicated to supporting research and education that has a positive, long-term impact on the human condition.
Mr. Kavli received his education in physics at the Norwegian Institute of Technology, financing his studies with proceeds from a business venture he and his brother ran as teenagers during World War II. Immediately upon completing his studies in 1955, he left for Canada and one year later came to the United States. After two years in California, he built upon his entrepreneurial spirit and experience as a teenager and founded the Kavlico Corporation in Los Angeles – later relocated to Moorpark, California. Under his leadership, the company became one of the world's largest suppliers of sensors for aeronautic, automotive and industrial applications.
The company received many distinguished awards and Mr. Kavli patented numerous technological breakthroughs. He remained CEO and sole shareholder of the company until he divested his interest in 2000.
In September 2007, prior to a special symposium in his honor, Fred Kavli discussed The Kavli Foundation, the Kavli Institutes, the Kavli Prizes and his lifelong interest in science.
He subsequently established The Kavli Foundation and The Kavli Operating Institute (now merged with The Kavli Foundation) to support scientific research aimed at improving the quality of life for people around the world. The Foundation has established research institutes at leading universities worldwide, sponsored science symposia and workshops, and partnered to establish international prizes recognizing research excellence in astrophysics, neuroscience and nanoscience.
Mr. Kavli has endowed two chairs in engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara –the Fred Kavli Chair in Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Technology and the Chair in Optoelectronics and Sensors. Through the Foundation, he has also endowed chairs in neuroscience at Columbia University, Earth systems sciences at the University of California, Irvine, nanoscience at the University of California, Los Angeles and theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.
Mr. Kavli and the Foundation are sponsoring research institutes at leading universities worldwide. These include research institutes in neuroscience at Columbia University, Yale University, the University of California San Diego and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology; in nanoscience at the California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Harvard University and the Delft University of Technology; in astrophysics and cosmology at Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Cambridge and Peking University; and in theoretical physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Mr. Kavli is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences, and a former member of the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. A former member of the U. C. President’s Board on Science and Innovation, he is a Trustee of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Foundation. His many honors include receiving the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit for Outstanding Service and in 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate, Doctor Honoris Causa, by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in recognition of his work to the benefit and advancement of science and research. In 2009, Mr. Kavli received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Northwestern University.
In addition to supporting scientific research and education, Mr. Kavli’s philanthropic activities include the Fred Kavli Theatre for Performing Arts at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, as well as other projects.
Selected News Stories
- Financial Times, "The Men with the Formula for Giving to Science" (July 13, 2009)
- Los Angeles Times, "Santa Barbara Industrialist Funds Major Awards to Spark Scientific Research" (May 27, 2008)
- Forbes Online, "The Man with the Million-Dollar Prize" (May 16, 2008)
- Time Magazine, "The Next Nobel?" (August 2, 2007)
- Symmetry, "Donors dream big" (August, 2007)
- The Associated Press, "Kavli strives to leave mark on science" (November 13, 2006)
- Scientific American, "Scientific American 50: Policv Leader of the Year" (November 21, 2005)
- Scientific American, "He'll Pay For That" (July, 2005)
- The New York Times, "A Philanthropist of Science Seeks to Be Its Next Nobel" (April 19, 2005)