Researchers at UC San Diego
Researchers at UC San Diego. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

A total of $18 million in funding was announced Tuesday to support research in a wide range of fields by early-career faculty at UC San Diego.

The money from the Hellman Foundation is part of a $125 million endowment to be shared by all 10 campuses in the University of California system. With this gift, the Hellman Fellows Program established in 1995 will be able to continue in perpetuity.

UC San Diego will receive $12 million, and Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla committed to providing $6 million as an institutional match for the endowment.

The gift will fund fellowships across a broad range of academic disciplines, including the arts and humanities, social sciences, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

At UC San Diego, the Hellman Fellows Program has supported over 320 fellows since 1995, including several current faculty members.

Among them are composer Lei Liang, winner of the 2020 Grawemeyer Award, the top classical music honor often referred to as “the Nobel Prize for music.” Other former fellows include Marta Serra-Garcia, an assistant professor in the Rady School of Management focused on the growing field of behavioral economics, and sociologist Danielle Raudenbush, author of “Healthcare Off the Books: Poverty, Illness and Strategies for Survival in an American City.”

“The Hellman family’s generosity and confidence in over 320 of our young faculty members has profoundly benefitted their scholarship and contributions to many fields of study,” said Khosla. “The research they are able to do as Hellman Fellows has a lasting impact on their academic careers. We are grateful for the grant from the Hellman Foundation so that UC San Diego will be able to permanently support the Hellman Fellows Program in perpetuity.”

The program was established by technology investor Warren Hellman and his wife Chris in 1995 to fund the research of promising assistant professors who showed capacity for great distinction in their chosen fields but needed support to begin to reach those goals.

The impetus for the program came when their daughter, Frances Hellman, a junior faculty member herself at UC San Diego, experienced first-hand the challenges that faculty can experience early in their careers before their research can attract external support.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.