Carnegie Institution of Science

The Carnegie Institution of Science is a nonprofit institute founded by Andrew Carnegie to lead the cutting edge of scientific research and development.  Officially the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the organization recently adopted a new public name to reflect is scientific mission as well as their campuses located outside of Washington D.C.

Top pre- and post-doctoral scholars conduct research on both coasts, investigating some of the most profound questions about the nature of life, the origins of the universe and solar systems, the behavior of matter under extreme conditions, and the cellular development of organisms. The institute was founded to give exceptional scholars great freedom and flexibility.

The institute’s first board consisted of such distinguished individuals as the president of the senate, the congressional speaker of the house, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, and the president of the National Academy of Sciences. Carnegie has continued to support some of the most well-known scientists and their discoveries, including Edwin Hubble, the astronomer who discovered other galaxies in our expanding universe, Charles Richter who first measured earthquakes, Vera Rubin, the first scientist to confirm the existence of dark matter, and Barbara McClintock, who won a Nobel Prize for her study of genetics.

Scientists manage each of the six departments, which include embryology, geophysics, terrestrial magnetism, plant biology, astronomy, and global ecology. The Department of Embryology in Baltimore, Maryland, researches cellular and molecular development and genetics. The Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, D.C. is one of the top facilities for petrology, or the study of rocks. Here researchers examine the chemistry and physics of the earth’s core. Together with the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, researchers make significant contributions to NASA’s Astrobiology Institute by studying the origins of life on our planet and the potential for life on other planets. This research largely consists of examining how rocks react to high pressure and high temperature conditions, simulating the possible origins of life at the bottom of the ocean. The Department of Terrestrial Magnetism has expanded its original goal of mapping geomagnetic fields to include a diverse team of astro- and geo-physicists, chemists, and planetary scientists who study earthquakes, volcanoes, planets outside our solar system, and the age and shape of the universe.

Carnegie’s newest addition, founded in 2002, is the Department of Global Ecology, which studies ecosystems on a worldwide scale using satellites to study land and oceanic systems. The Department of Plant Biology takes a zoomed-in view of plant genetics, studying photosynthesis and how plants survive environmental stresses in hopes of making advancements in agriculture, medicine, and environmental sustainability.

The Carnegie Institution hosts The Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, home to four high-tech telescopes as well as observatories in Chile. Carnegie scientists design their own tools and telescopes for making the most cutting-edge discoveries in astronomy, studying the origins, shape, and destiny of the expanding universe.

Currently the Carnegie Institute for Science support teams of researchers and does not offer any classes. Perhaps Carnegie will offer distance learning in the future.

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