Carnegie Institute for Science

Landscape biogeochemistry reflected in shifting distributions of chemical traits in the Amazon forest canopy. Image from the Institution’s Carnegie Airborne Observatory.
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Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1902, endowing it with $22 million, as an organization for scientific discovery. He intended it to be home for exceptional individuals—those with imagination and extraordinary dedication, capable of working at the cutting edge of their fields. Today, Carnegie scientists work in six scientific departments on the West and East Coasts.

The organization’s legal name, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, has led to confusion because four of its departments are outside Washington and because it can be confused with other nonprofits created by Andrew Carnegie. As a result, the institution adopted a new look and name in 2007—the Carnegie Institution for Science—which closely associates the words “Carnegie” and “science” and thereby reveals its core identity. The institution remains officially and legally the Carnegie Institution of Washington, but now has a more fitting public identity.

 Carnegie investigators are leaders in the fields of plant biology, developmental biology, Earth and planetary sciences, astronomy, and global ecology. They seek answers to questions about the structure of the universe, the formation of our solar system and other planetary systems, the behavior and transformation of matter when subjected to extreme conditions, the origin of life, the function of genes, and the development of organisms from single-celled egg to adult.

 The Carnegie Institution for Science is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is an endowed, independent, nonprofit institution. Significant additional support comes from federal grants and private donations. A board of trustees, consisting of leaders in business, the sciences, education, and public service, oversees Carnegie’s operations. Each of the six departments has its own scientific director who manages day-to-day operations under the leadership of Matthew P. Scott, Carnegie president.

 In addition to the scientists on staff, there is a constantly changing roster of pre- and postdoctoral fellows and associates, as well as visiting investigators, at each facility. Each of the six departments is independently managed by a director, who is aided by support staff. Carnegie is also involved in education at the lower levels.