Leon Knopoff, an award-winning faculty member at UCLA for 50 years, and his wife, Joanne, who has volunteered for UCLA alumni and community programs for more than 40 years, have pledged a $500,000 endowment in UCLA's College of Letters & Science.
The Leon and Joanne V.C. Knopoff Career Development Chair in Physics and Geophysics, the first chair in the basic sciences to be endowed by a member of the faculty during Campaign UCLA, will support the research of a promising young scientist in solid Earth geophysics, professor Knopoff's field.
"Joanne and I have benefited so much from being at UCLA that we would like to return the favor," said Knopoff, research professor of physics and geophysics. "Our lives revolve around UCLA."
"I'm really thrilled that we are able to make such a worthwhile gift that will help UCLA in a permanent way," Joanne Knopoff said. "It seemed as though it would be sort of a stretch for us to do this, but we believe so strongly in UCLA that it was a high priority for both of us. We talked it over with our three children, and they shared our enthusiasm. Leon and I are delighted."
Professor Knopoff, 75, came to UCLA as a postdoctoral scholar in 1950, and was promoted to associate professor in the Institute of Geophysics in 1957. Just three years later, he was appointed to full professor in the physics department. He served as director of the UCLA Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) from 1972 to 1986. He has won numerous prestigious awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has been awarded the Medal of the Seismological Society of America and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, and has won four Outstanding Teaching Awards from UCLA's Department of Physics.
Knopoff's research has focused on the physics of earthquakes, earthquake prediction, the interior structure of the Earth, pattern formation, fracture mechanics, non-linear dynamics, and several other areas of solid earth geophysics. He is the author or co-author of more than 350 scientific papers, book chapters and reviews.
In September 2000, the IGPP honored Knopoff's 75th birthday and his 50th anniversary at UCLA with a symposium titled, "The Earth Earthquakes and Seismic Waves." The majority of his 35 former Ph.D. students attended, along with many of his colleagues and former postdoctoral scholars, some of whom came from as far as Australia, China, Germany and Russia.
Joanne Knopoff, a graduate of UCLA and a former counselor for undergraduate students in the College of Letters & Science, served as president of Gold Shield, Alumnae of UCLA, an honorary service and philanthropic organization; president of UCLA Design for Sharing, which brings UCLA Performing Arts to large numbers of public school students who otherwise would be unable to attend performances; and president of the UCLA Faculty Women's Club. She has chaired committees of the UCLA Alumni Association Scholarship Program, and is a recipient of the Alumni Association's annual Award for Excellence in University Service in recognition of extensive leadership and service to UCLA. She currently serves on the boards of Gold Shield, Design for Sharing and The Affiliates of UCLA.
Professor Knopoff is a strong advocate of interdisciplinary research and teaching. With their endowment, the Knopoffs are encouraging physicists and geophysicists to probe large-scale questions that are being raised in both fields.
An emerging area of physics in recent years addresses the searches for and mechanisms for development of patterns within complex systems of many particles, Professor Knopoff said. With their endowment, the Knopoffs want to encourage research that will help us better understand patterns in complex systems in physics and solid earth geophysics.
The Leon and Joanne V.C. Knopoff Career Development Chair in Physics and Geophysics will support the research of a junior scientist for a few years, and then will be awarded to another junior scientist in the field.
"The Knopoffs' endowment will help in recruiting the most outstanding young scientists to UCLA in the growing area of the physics of the solid earth, help UCLA to retain exceptional young scientists in this field during very creative periods of their careers, and help assure the best possible education for UCLA students in this important field," said College of Letters & Science Provost Brian Copenhaver.
"UCLA and the College of Letters & Science are grateful to Leon and Joanne Knopoff for their far-sighted generosity," Copenhaver said. "Leon and Joanne have been serving UCLA at a high level for decades, and now do so permanently with this significant endowment."
Campaign UCLA, which supports academic programs throughout the university, is the largest, most successful fundraising campaign ever attempted by a public university. Campaign UCLA, dedicated to the theme "Where Great Futures Begin," established a new benchmark in educational philanthropy among public universities, raising $1.2 billion between July 1, 1997, and April 14, 2000. Earlier this year, UCLA increased the campaign goal to $1.6 billion by June 30, 2002.