Fred Kavli dies at 86; founder of research prizes


Fred Kavli created a foundation that awards $1 million prizes for scientific research. (Michael A. Mariant/Associated Press)
November 24, 2013

Fred Kavli, who launched a foundation to support science research and award prizes of $1 million to scientists, died Nov. 21 at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 86.

He had complications from surgery for a rare form of cancer, the Kavli Foundation said in a statement.

Mr. Kavli was a philanthropist, physicist and entrepreneur. In 2000, he created a foundation bearing his name that supported basic research in astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics.

Eight years later, the foundation began awarding prizes in three fields: astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. Each prize is worth $1 million. Winners also receive a scroll and gold medal, presented every two years by the king of Norway during a ceremony in Oslo.

Mr. Kavli, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born on a farm in Norway. He studied physics at the Norwegian Institute of Technology, now called the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He financed his schooling with proceeds from a business he and his brother ran.

In 1955, he moved to Canada and later to the United States. He founded Kavlico Corp., a supplier of sensors to the aerospace and automotive industries, in 1958. Mr. Kavli was the chief executive and sole shareholder until the company was sold in 2000.

Mr. Kavli also donated to civic projects, including the Fred Kavli Theatre for Performing Arts in Ventura County.

Survivors include two children.

Associated Press

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