US $200m Gift Propels Scientific Research in the Search for Life Beyond Earth

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Space Impulse Brief: 

  • The SETI Institute announced today a philanthropic gift of US $200m from the estate of Franklin Antonio, a visionary supporter and catalyst of the work of the SETI Institute for more than 12 years.
  • This gift enables the SETI Institute to undertake more missions and expand research priorities to push the boundaries of human knowledge in exploring life beyond our planet and the origins of life here on Earth.
  • Currently, SETI-focused projects are eligible for only limited federal funding through research grants and otherwise depend entirely on philanthropic support and private funding.

PRESS RELEASE — Mountain View, California / November 8, 2023 — The SETI Institute, a non-profit scientific research organization, announced today a philanthropic gift of $200m from the estate of Franklin Antonio, a visionary supporter and catalyst of the work of the SETI Institute for more than 12 years. Co-founder of communications chip company, Qualcomm, Antonio passed away on May 13, 2022, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy to enable breakthrough science in the search for intelligent life beyond our world.

With more than 100 scientists actively conducting research across 173 separate programs, the SETI Institute explores six key science disciplines: Astronomy and Astrophysics; Exoplanets; Planetary Exploration; Astrobiology; Climate and bio-geoscience; and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

“Guided by our core mission and Franklin Antonio’s vision, we now have the opportunity to elevate and expedite our research and make new discoveries to benefit all humanity for generations to come,” said SETI Institutes President & CEO Bill Diamond. “In his memory, the SETI Institute will continue its pursuit of one of the biggest and most profound questions in all of science, a question as old as humanity itself – are we alone in the universe?”

This gift enables the SETI Institute to undertake more missions and expand research priorities to push the boundaries of human knowledge in exploring life beyond our planet and the origins of life here on Earth. Examples include:

  • Establish postdoctoral fellowships and internal grants for science and education programs
  • Enable the SETI Institute’s research base to expand and extend its reach globally through new international collaborations
  • Develop new educational programs and initiatives, particularly focused on reaching and engaging underserved communities
  • Support the development of innovative observational technologies and analytical instruments

“Not only was Franklin the primary benefactor of SETI research at the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), but he was an integral part of the technical team. His extraordinary knowledge of communications technology was invaluable in upgrading the ATA to the world-class radio telescope instrument it is today,” said Dr. Andrew Siemion, Bernard M. Oliver Chair of SETI Research at the SETI Institute and Director of SETI Research at the University of Oxford.

Currently, SETI-focused projects are eligible for only limited federal funding through research grants and otherwise depend entirely on philanthropic support and private funding. As such, Antonio’s gift will also serve to permanently endow core SETI programs and foster new global partnerships.

“This gift will impact all research domains of the SETI Institute,” said Dr. Nathalie Cabrol, Director of the Carl Sagan Center for Research. “It will provide our teams the freedom to pursue their own science priorities, and to examine the technological, philosophical and societal impact of their research on our daily lives here on Earth.”

Contact Information:

Rebecca McDonald
Director of Communications
SETI Institute
[email protected]

-OR-

Angelica DeLuccia Morrissey | [email protected]
Sara Shell | [email protected]
Griffin Communications Group

SOURCE: SETI Institute

Featured image: The Allen Telescope Array. Credit: Simon Steel / SETI Institute

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