Donor Spotlight

John Mather

John MatherIn November of 2009, Nobel Laureate Dr. John C. Mather gave nearly $25,000 of his Nobel Prize award to the American Institute of Physics (AIP) to create and fund the Mather Policy Intern Program, an endowed program that sends two undergraduate physics majors to Washington, D.C. each summer, where they work in Congress or other government offices where policy is formulated. "The aim of the program is to promote awareness of the policy process among young scientists by directly engaging them in the work that goes on in the federal government — work that is today as exciting as in any time in the past," explained Fred Dylla, Executive Director of the American Institute of Physics.

Mather said that he was prompted to create and endow the internship after the 2008 election, when physicist Bill Foster (D-IL) was elected to Congress. Shortly after the election, Foster remarked that few elected representatives had a deep technical training. Representatives Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), the other two physicists in Congress at the time, also support greater engagement of the scientific community with policy makers.

"Many of the problems facing the nation and the world today," said Mather, "may only be solved if their technical elements are understood -- climate change, energy supply, health care, and infrastructure, to name just a few." Mather said he decided to fund internships at the undergraduate level since policy programs already exist for PhD level scientists, and secondly because he hoped that it would be good for students to learn about the policymaking process during their formal education but before the focused work of graduate studies begins. Dr. Mather sought out AIP as a partner because of the organization's strong track record of working with undergraduate physics students and engaging with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Dr. Mather's initial gift supported the program for its first year. In December of 2010, Dr. Mather donated a home to AIP, the sale of which yielded approximately $120,000, and will support the program for an additional 4-5 years. The program is being jointly administered by AIP's Society of Physics Students (SPS) and the AIP Government Relations Division.

Learn more about Dr. Mather's work and career.

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Robert Hancock

In April of 2011, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) received a generous bequest of nearly $300,000 in cash and stock from the estate of venture capitalist and businessman Robert D. Hancock, of Carson City, NV.

In 1956 Mr. Hancock — or "Stan" as he liked to be called — founded the Micromanipulator Company, a leader in analytical probing equipment for the semiconductor industry. Stan developed and created his first manipulator in his garage in Escondido, CA, which lead to the birth of the analytical probing industry and his company. Today the Micromanipulator Company manufactures analytical probing equipment and accessories for semiconductor wafers, solar cells, nanotechnology and MEMS devices.

Stan's passion for physics was driven by his work. The technology necessary for manufacturing the types of goods that the Micromanipulator Company produces requires advanced knowledge of physics, engineering and crystallography, among other related disciplines.

Mr. Hancock's bequest will support the programs of AIP's Physics Resources Center, which includes the History, Education, Government Relations, News and Media, Statistical Research and Industrial Outreach divisions.

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