Around the Pier: Generosity from Within


Devendra Lal first visited Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego as a postdoc in 1958. Now, after nearly 50 years of contributing to basic research at Scripps, he’s making a different kind of contribution to the institution – a donation of $500,000.

Lal’s recent gift will establish the Devendra and Aruna Lal Fellowship Endowment to support creative and exceptional Scripps graduate students in the fields of nuclear and isotope geochemistry and geophysics, chemical oceanography, glaciology, and climatology. Lal wants to support student research in these particular fields because he believes they are the fundamental driving force behind studies of modern climatology and global change.

”I consider the most important research activity at Scripps to be its graduate research program,” said Lal. “If the level of research conducted by Scripps graduate students pushes the frontiers of science, the credit for it would go to both the students and the faculty.”

Fellowship awardees will be selected based on demonstrated creativity and originality during their time at Scripps and potential for continued innovation. The award is open to third- and fourth-year graduate students actively engaged in experimental studies that broaden the frontiers of research in their field.

“This fellowship offers a challenge to the ingenuity of graduate students and helps promote continued innovation that I hope will make a positive impact for the institution as a whole,” said Lal. “I owe much of my career to Scripps, and through this fellowship, I hope to give back something significant and lasting.”

The graduate student fellowship is named jointly for Lal’s late wife, Aruna, who he said devoted her life to supporting his scientific career. “I couldn’t have accomplished ten percent of what I did in a lifetime were it not for her,” said Lal, who joined the Scripps faculty in 1967, studying nuclear and isotopic geochemistry and geophysics. “She would have loved this fellowship.”

As a member of the Scripps faculty, Lal hopes his gift will serve as a model for other members of the Scripps community to show their support of the institution. He encourages his colleagues to make additions of any amount to the Devendra and Aruna Lal Fellowship Endowment, or to establish similar funds of their own.

By creating this fellowship, Lal hopes to inspire greatness in students who will inevitably drive progress for Scripps in the future. “It takes just one great scientist to make a significant difference to the level of an institution,” said Lal. “One great event triggers great things.”

-Shannon Casey

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