Billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick announced a $750 million pledge to the California Institute of Technology on Thursday.
The Resnicks, whose Wonderful Co. is the world’s largest producer of almonds and pistachios, said the pledged donation is to support environmental sustainability research. It is the largest gift in Caltech’s history, and the second-largest gift to a U.S. academic institution, according to the university.
“In order to comprehensively manage the climate crisis, we need breakthrough innovations, the kind that will only be possible through significant investment in university research,” Stewart Resnick said in a statement. “Science and bold creativity must unite to address the most pressing challenges facing energy, water, and sustainability.”
With a net worth that Forbes estimates at $9 billion, the Resnicksown products including POM Wonderful, Fiji Water and Halo mandarin oranges. They also own a majority stake in the Kern Water Bank, one of California’s largest underground water-storage facilities.
With their gift, Caltech plans to construct a new 75,000-square-foot building, which they will call the Resnick Sustainability Resource Center, according to the university. There university researchers will study solar science, climate science, energy, biofuels, decomposable plastics, water and environmental resources, as well as ecology and biosphere engineering.
Caltech also said it plans to establish a permanent endowment to fund the work of researchers across Caltech’s academic divisions and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech manages for NASA.