SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Fred Kavli, who launched a foundation to support science research and award prizes of $1 million to scientists, has died. He was 86.
Kavli died Thursday at his home in Santa Barbara from complications of surgery for a rare form of cancer, the Kavli Foundation said in a statement.
Kavli was a philanthropist, physicist and entrepreneur. In 2000, he created a foundation bearing his name that supported basic research in astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics.
Eight years later, the foundation began awarding prizes in three fields — astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. Each prize was worth $1 million, and winners also received a scroll and gold medal that were presented every two years by the king of Norway during a ceremony in Oslo.
"This is a painful loss for the foundation and for all of science," foundation Vice Chairman Rockell N. Hankin said. "We can only take comfort in his extraordinary legacy, which will continue advancing critically important research that benefits all of humanity, and supports scientific work around the globe."
Kavli, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born in 1927 on a small farm in Norway. He studied physics at the Norwegian Institute of Technology, now called the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Kavli financed his schooling with proceeds from a business he and his brother ran during World War II.
In 1955, he moved to Canada and later to the United States. He founded Kavlico Corp., a supplier of sensors to the aerospace and automotive industries, in 1958. Kavli was the chief executive and sole shareholder until the company was sold in 2000.
Along with promoting science research, Kavli donated to civic projects including the Fred Kavli Theater for Performing Arts in California's Ventura County.
He is survived by two children, and nine nephews and nieces.