Officials at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation are keenly aware that without strong university-based research—and without bright, university-educated scientists and engineers—companies like Hewlett-Packard Co., the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer giant; would not be where they are today; That was the idea behind the 25-year-old foundation’s launching last year of the University Research Fellowships program. The program supports young science and engineering faculty just beginning their careers at universities in the United States.

The foundation, named for the cofounder of Hewlett-Packard and his late wife, is located in Los Altos, Calif., near the company’s headquarters. Profits from the finn’s diverse inventory of computers and analytical instruments support the foundation, which, in turn, funds arts, education, and science organizations that depend on contributions from private sources.

Annedore Kushner, fellowships program coordinator for the Packard Foundation, says David Packard instituted the program because “the science and technology area is very dear to...

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