Today, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation announced the resignation of Dr. Lynn Orr as Chair of the Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering Advisory Panel and the selection of Dr. Frances Arnold to assume that role. Dr. Orr was confirmed by the United States Senate for the position of Undersecretary for Science and Energy at the Department of Energy on December 4, 2014.
“While I am excited to take on the challenges of science and energy research for the nation in this new role at the Department of Energy, I resign my position as Chair of the Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel—a position I have held for 24 years—with very mixed emotions,” said Dr. Lynn Orr, Keleen and Carlton Beal Professor Emeritus at Stanford University. “Through the Packard Fellows, the Packard Foundation has provided a very important contribution in supporting talented young professors who bring so much creativity to science and engineering in the United States, accomplishing just what David Packard envisioned: putting in place research that will be the basis for science and technology progress in this century.”
The Packard Foundation established the Fellowships program in 1988 to provide early-career scientists with flexible funding and the freedom to take risks and explore new frontiers in their fields. Each year, the Foundation invites 50 universities to nominate two faculty members for consideration. The Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel, a group of 12 internationally-recognized scientists and engineers, evaluates the nominations and recommends Fellows for approval by the Packard Foundation Board of Trustees. Dr. Orr was instrumental in the genesis of the Fellows Program and has been involved since its creation.
“I know the Advisory Panel will be ably led going forward by Frances Arnold at Caltech. As a current member of the Advisory Panel—and a former Fellow herself—she is very well positioned to shepherd the happily difficult task of recommending to the Foundation Board the most capable nominees each year from a pool of candidates that seems to get a little better each year,” said Orr.
Dr. Frances Arnold, Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry and Director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), is a recognized scientist and engineer. Elected to membership in all three National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Dr. Arnold received the Draper Prize of the National Academy of Engineering in 2011, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2013, and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
“I am honored to step into the role of Chair, guided by my own experience as a Fellow and member of the Advisory Panel,” said Dr. Arnold. “Lynn has worked hard to ensure that David Packard’s vision is realized with every new cadre of Fellows and I look forward to carrying that legacy forward.”
The Fellowships program was inspired by David Packard’s commitment to strengthen university-based science and engineering programs in the United States, recognizing that the success of the Hewlett-Packard Company, which he cofounded, was derived in large measure from research and development in university laboratories.
“My father believed in the importance of giving the best and brightest scientists and engineers the flexibility they needed in their work in order to make great advances for our society. That is why he loved the Fellows Program so much,” said Susan Packard Orr, board chair of the Foundation and wife of Dr. Lynn Orr. “We are all thankful—and grateful—for Lynn’s contribution to the Foundation, and in particular his work with the Fellows Program. I have full faith that Frances will provide exemplary leadership for the Packard Fellows Advisory Panel moving forward.”
Since 1988, the Foundation has awarded $346 million to support 523 scientists and engineers from 52 top national universities. The Packard Fellowships are among the nation’s largest nongovernmental fellowships, designed to allow maximum flexibility in how the funding is used. Packard Fellows have gone on to achieve significant accomplishments, receiving additional awards and honors that include the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Fields Medal, the Alan T. Waterman Award, MacArthur Fellowships and elections to the National Academies.