In Memoriam


On November 21, 2013, science lost a great friend in Fred Kavli, an advocate, an innovator, a visionary and a champion. He was 86 years old.

Born and raised in Norway, Fred Kavli was a man inspired. Walking the mountainsides and along the fjords, watching the night sky and the amazing Northern Lights, he developed a curiosity for the universe that wasted no time blossoming into a lifelong love for science. For Fred, everything around him offered a tantalizing mystery that he knew only science could ever hope to explain. Pondering these mysteries – from the biggest to the smallest to the most complex – he would begin to nurture a dream: to one day help scientists expand the boundaries of what we know and make the world a better place for future generations.

From his youthful years in Norway to his emigrating to the United States as an engineer in the mid 1950’s, it would take many years as a successful entrepreneur and businessman for him to realize his early dream. But in the year 2000, he sold Kavlico, the company he founded more than 40 years earlier, and established The Kavli Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased understanding and support for scientists and their work. It works today to improve the world through enabling fundamental scientific research. Fred deeply understood that the discovery of new knowledge about our world is essential if we hope to answer many of the deepest and most profound questions facing humanity. He understood as well that through the advancement of science, we will create a better life for all.

On November 21, 2013, science lost a great friend in Fred Kavli, an advocate, an innovator, a visionary and a champion. Here is a short introduction video about Fred, in his own words.

Fred Kavli always looked to the future. One of his greatest joys was hearing of scientific discoveries that would benefit humankind far beyond his own lifetime. Today, as we contemplate his life, we see a remarkable legacy: at this point, seventeen Kavli Institutes of Science on three continents, seven university endowed professorial chairs, scores of programs supporting the scientific enterprise, and the Kavli Prizes in Astrophysics, Nanoscience and Neuroscience.

This is a moment of great sorrow for us. Yet like Fred Kavli, and in his memory, we will always look to the future. He understood that basic research rarely brings immediate rewards but he also understood that future generations would come to depend on the discoveries of science to create a better world. This is why he saw his commitment to science and to humankind going far beyond his own lifetime. He set up his Foundation to continue in perpetuity, and that means we will remain on the course he so powerfully set. The Kavli Foundation is generously endowed, its fidelity to its mission assured, and its leadership and staff driven to achieve Fred's animating mission. This means we can and will continue to work with all of our partners, current and future, in advancing science.

On this website, there are articles and videos about Fred, including a biography,  a video inteview conducted in 2007, and a feature profile published in 2012 . We encourage you to take a moment and become more familiar with the founder of The Kavli Foundation. At the request of many visitors, we have also provided a page where everyone can send to us their kind thoughts and words.

— Rockell N. Hankin, Vice Chairman of the Board and Robert W. Conn, President, The Kavli Foundation (November, 2013)