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Founders’ Message
July 06, 2021

To all grant seekers:

If you’ve come to this website in search of support for an idea or innovation with the potential to disrupt the causes and consequences of a rapidly changing climate, we want to begin by acknowledging the challenge that you have taken on. Your commitment to this work gives us optimism for the future.

Thank you. We know how hard this work is, and we deeply appreciate what you are trying to achieve.

As emeritus professors at the University of Washington in Seattle’s School of Medicine (Bill) and Department of Biology (Katherine), we are firm believers in the power of experimentation. That’s why we’re excited to be able to help bold thinkers put their ideas into action and either gain evidence in support of further research or fail rapidly and rethink assumptions.

This kind of ever-evolving curiosity has shaped both of our careers, while ensuring that we’ve never run out of things to talk about in our over 55 years of marriage.

For Bill, that journey has meant connecting the dots across disciplines and learning to communicate complex science to policymakers and members of the broader public. He began graduate school in physics in 1961, got a Ph.D. in physiology & biophysics, but evolved into a neuroscientist and medical school professor. His sabbatical at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as Visiting Professor of Neurobiology had the incidental effect of promoting an earlier interest in archaeology and human evolution. His interest in climate shifts began when he first connected the timing of the rapid growth in the size of the human brain about 2.35 million years ago with the time the ice ages converted the forested Rift Valley into savannah. He has been focused on the evolutionary implications of climate change ever since. In more recent years, he has shifted his focus to the human-caused climate changes currently in progress. Drawing on his medical-school professor familiarity with closing windows of opportunity, he is interested in finding ways to simultaneously address the root causes of climate change and to prevent it from inflicting irreparable harm.

Katherine’s path has been different, starting in math and physics, then a Ph.D. in physiology & biophysics and postdoctoral training at UC San Diego and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She spent her career as research faculty in biology at the University of Washington, supporting her work and her lab with research grants from NSF and NIH. As the founder of UW’s “Crab Lab”, Katherine is acutely aware of the work that goes into securing funding for scientific research. She hopes that the experience of seeking funding from the CO2 Foundation will be less onerous than is standard for the field.

In founding the CO2 Foundation, we hope to help truly innovative thinkers get the support they need to test potentially transformative ideas, resulting in the kind of proof-of-concept that will leave you better positioned to secure the funding for the next stage of your research. The way we see it, this Foundation is our proof-of-concept experiment in the power of innovation to solve the world’s most pressing problems. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

In gratitude,

Katherine and Bill