Spark Discovery

Roger Sant in the Natural History Museum's Sant Ocean Hall

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Roger and Vicki Sant

Sants Set A Precedent

Roger and Vicki Sant care deeply about saving the planet’s biodiversity. At the same time, they are strategic about their philanthropy. The two have endowed the directorship at the National Museum of Natural History. They know the Smithsonian, with its talented leaders and a vast network of resources, can reach and inspire people to create a sustainable future. The Sants also established the Sant Chair for Marine Science and funded the Sant Ocean Hall. The museum’s current goal is to create an endowment to keep the hall at the forefront of ocean science. “The Smithsonian is one of the few institutions able to take on the large-scale challenges our world faces. Its long-term commitment to science and nature and all they can provide us is worthy of our strongest support,” Roger Sant says. 

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Rick Potts, Peter Buck Chair of Human Origins

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Dr. Peter Buck

Gift Supports Groundbreaking Research

Dr. Peter Buck, an entrepreneur and nuclear scientist, knows the importance of nurturing visionary leaders. He endowed a chair in human origins at the National Museum of Natural History. More recently, he endowed fellowships and internships at the museum to train scientists, collection managers and educators. His endowment supports noted museum paleoanthropologist Rick Potts (pictured here). Potts has been gathering groundbreaking research about how human adaptation is tied to patterns of environmental instability. “My hope is that these gifts will guide the museum’s next century, providing a constant influx of new ideas as the museum pursues some of the most significant natural science research questions of our time,” Buck says. 

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Emmett Duffy (pictured here) is founding director of the Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network.

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Michael and Suzanne Tennenbaum

Endowed Global Network Will Make Timely Ocean Observations

An avid diver, Michael E. Tennenbaum understands how development and climate change are affecting our ocean’s coastal systems. These fragile zones are in jeopardy, as is their ability to sustain life and human well-being. Tennenbaum, with his wife Suzanne, endowed the Tennenbaum Marine Observatory Network at the Smithsonian to measure these changes to better inform public policy and future scientists. “The Smithsonian is best suited for creating a global marine observatory,” Michael Tennenbaum says. “This is a huge task. Passion will be needed.” 

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Charles Alcock 

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Charles Alcock

Are We Alone?

Charles Alcock oversees huge discoveries as director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Scientist John Kovac recently detected ripples in space from the beginning of time through a telescope. Those ripples made waves among scientists because they revealed the universe expanded just before the Big Bang.  Now Alcock is on a bigger quest: to find signs of life in space. With a powerful new tool, the Giant Magellan Telescope, scientists will probe planets orbiting nearby stars. An investment in the telescope will help the Observatory answer an old question: Are we alone? 

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Genomic samples are collected and cryopreserved.

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John and Ginger Sall

Donors Seed Collections for Tomorrow

John and Ginger Sall believe data can help solve 21st-century challenges. In business, John Sall co-founded the company SAS, one of the world’s largest designers of analytical software for companies. To help understand biodiversity, the Salls gave seed funding to the National Museum of Natural History for the Global Genome Initiative. This collaborative project will map the genetic blueprint of life on Earth. This reference library will create tools to help unlock our understanding of biology and the diversity of life on our planet.

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National Museum of Natural History Fossil Hall (artist's rendering)

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David Koch

Fossil Hall to be Named for Koch

David Koch remembers he was “blown away” the first time he encountered a dinosaur skeleton in a museum as a child. His gift to the National Museum of Natural History—the single largest gift the museum has received to date—funds the renovation of the Fossil Hall, one of the Smithsonian’s most popular exhibitions. The hall, which will be named for Koch, will trace Earth’s history over 10 geologic time periods and display the museum’s newly acquired and largely complete T. rex skeleton. “This phenomenal Natural History Museum needs to have an updated dinosaur hall. They are the most popular in any natural history museum,” Koch says.

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Dorothy E. Ebersbach 

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Ebersbach, Dorothy

Answering the Call, Securing the Future

Dorothy E. Ebersbach was a heroine in an era of great heroes. Earning her pilots license in 1939, she joined the small, elite Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II as a test pilot. Since she couldn’t fly as fighter pilot, Ebersbach flew moving targets for soldiers to practice shooting at airborne objects. Years later, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award Congress bestows to civilians. After the war, she turned in her flight wings and earned a nursing degree. Even then, she was at the forefront of many campaigns to immunize residents of Florida, especially polio. She was a member of the Friends of the Smithsonian for more than 30 years. And when she passed away in 2011, she left a generous bequest to the Smithsonian. In keeping with her status as a pioneering aviator, a portion supports the National Air and Space Museum's National Women in Aviation Collection. The remainder builds the Smithsonian’s endowment.  

 

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