There are several foundations that arelarger, and most have less controversial pasts. Nonetheless, the W.M. Keck Foundation is gradually gaining respect as an ardent supporter of basic scientific research, especially in the areas of imaging, photonics, and earth and space sciences.

Despite its growth in science funding, however, Keck is not an extravagant taker of risks. Only those investigators who have already gained the staunch financial backing of their own research organizations should bother applying for a portion of the $40 million that the foundation disburses annually—a policy that would appear to stem from Keck,s desire to ensure respect for its wisdom among academics.

lbs Los Angeles-based foundation, and its funding policies, have come a long way since its earliest days as as a family-run philanthropy launched by oil field baron William Keck, owner of Superior Oil Co. Today, the key perseron at the foundation is the founders son Howard,...

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