The Next Nobel?

How an upstart philanthropist found a way to rev up tomorrow's hottest fields of inquiry

Joe Toreno for TIME

Fred Kavli, a Norwegian-born physicist, entrepreneur, business leader, innovator and philanthropist, at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Ask the average person who Fred Kavli is, and you'll probably draw a blank stare. Pose the same question to the scientific community, however, and you're likely to get an admiring smile. Since 2000, when the Norwegian-born engineer started a foundation that bears his name, the upstart philanthropist has funded work in several critical scientific areas and virtually created a new class system among research universities: those that can boast of having a Kavli Institute and those that wish they could.

So far, the list of beneficiaries is small--climbing to 15 this month--but it includes some of the most prestigious schools...

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