NOV 24, 2023 6:00 AM PST

SETI Institute Receives $200m Philanthropic Gift from Franklin Antonio's Estate

The search for life beyond Earth just got a boost, though not a radio signal boost, but a boost in funding, as the SETI Institute, who spearheads the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), announced on November 8 they had received a $200 million gift from Qualcomm co-founder, Franklin Antonio, who left the generous gift after passing away on May 13, 2022.

“Not only was Franklin the primary benefactor of SETI research at the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), but he was an integral part of the technical team,” said Dr. Andrew Siemion, who is a Bernard M. Oliver Chair of SETI Research at the SETI Institute and Director of SETI Research at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. “His extraordinary knowledge of communications technology was invaluable in upgrading the ATA to the world-class radio telescope instrument it is today.”

The Allen Telescope Array in northeast California. (Credit: SETI Institute/Simon Steel)

Antonio was very active in SETI ventures for more than 12 years, including being active in meetings and developing state-of-the-art instrumentation, along with funding SETI ventures such as PANOSETI at his alma mater, UC San Diego. The $200 million gift will specifically be used for postdoctoral fellowships and internal funding grants, expand the institute’s global reach, new educational programs, and advance instrumentation.

The SETI Institute, which has been searching for signals from extraterrestrial intelligence for more than 40 years, is comprised of more than 100 scientists, with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) being one of six primary science disciplines the institute focuses on, and the other disciplines being Astrobiology, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Climate and biogeoscience, Exoplanets, and Planetary Exploration.

“Guided by our core mission and Franklin Antonio’s vision, we now have the opportunity to elevate and expedite our research and make new discoveries to benefit all humanity for generations to come,” said Bill Diamond, who is the President & CEO of the SETI Institute. “In his memory, the SETI Institute will continue its pursuit of one of the biggest and most profound questions in all of science, a question as old as humanity itself – are we alone in the universe?”

How will this $200 million gift help advance the SETI Institute in the coming years and decades? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

Sources: EurekAlert!, SETI Institute, SETI Institute (1), UC San Diego

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of “Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey”.
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