Hertz Foundation Announces $5 Million Fellowship Gift Honoring Inventor and Entrepreneur Dr. Nathan Myhrvold

The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building a stronger nation through science and technology leadership, today announced a new fellowship honoring Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, a Hertz Fellow and one of the most visionary technology and business leaders of our time. The $5 million endowment gift made by an anonymous donor further supports the Foundation’s renowned fellowship program which funds the doctoral education of students in the applied physical and biological sciences, mathematics, or engineering. 

Dr. Myhrvold, former chief technology officer of Microsoft and a founder and chief executive officer of Intellectual Ventures, worked on quantum theories of gravity with the renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking and pursued a range of other notable intellectual and personal pursuits, in fields ranging from paleobiology, climate science and astronomy, to nature and wildlife photography. He also became famous in culinary circles for his application of scientific research principles and techniques to create the award-winning Modernist Cuisine book series.

“It is a rare and profound honor to see this new endowment for Hertz Fellowships launched. I am hoping that the Hertz fellows whose education is funded by these fellowships will have even more illustrious careers than I’ve managed to have,” Dr. Myhrvold said. “When I survey the tremendous contributions to science and our society from the Hertz Fellows I’m acquainted with — and the many more who I do not know personally but admire greatly — it’s hard to think of a grant program that delivers a bigger bang for the buck.”

First awarded in 1963, the Hertz Fellowships are notable for their focus on supporting the pursuit of creative solutions to the nation’s most pressing challenges, from enhancing national security to improving human health, along with the moral commitment from each recipient to make their skills available to the United States in times of national emergency. This fellowship gives recipients the most flexibility of any such award, providing the opportunity to pursue research of their choosing under the direction of faculty at any participating U.S. research university. 

“Nathan and his wife Rosemarie Havranek have been long-time supporters of the foundation’s mission and it is our privilege to announce this new fellowship in his honor. Nathan’s career, and many achievements, exemplify the vision of Fannie and John Hertz and their embrace of the daring innovation that is required to keep our nation secure while building our leadership in science and technology,” said Robbee Baker Kosak, president of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. “We are grateful for the generosity of the donor, and we hope it inspires others to join us in fueling these extraordinary minds to drive even deeper in pursuit of their groundbreaking work in support of our nation.” 

The Hertz Fellowship experience continues beyond the initial award to include permanent membership in a multigenerational, community of intellectual peers that includes some of the nation’s most noted science and technology leaders, offering a unique engine for professional development and collaboration throughout their careers. This robust network has led Hertz Fellows to form research collaborations, commercialize technology and create and invest in early-stage companies together. Hertz Fellows have gone on to become company founders, military generals, patent holders and presidents and faculty at major research universities. They have received countless awards and accolades, including the Nobel Prize, MacArthur Fellowships, the Breakthrough Prize, the Fields Medal, the National Medal of Science, and the National Medal of Technology. 

As a Hertz Fellow, Dr. Myhrvold earned his doctorate in theoretical and mathematical physics and his master’s degree in mathematical economics from Princeton University. Additionally, he earned master’s degrees in geophysics and space physics, as well as a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from UCLA. His post-doctoral work with Dr. Hawking was performed at the University of Cambridge. He has more than 900 patents and numerous scientific publications in several fields. During his tenure at Microsoft, Dr. Myhrvold established Microsoft Research, and oversaw many advanced technology projects. Along with Bill Gates, he created Global Good, oversaw its groundbreaking inventions for global health and development, and launched the Institute for Disease Modeling, a world leader in computational epidemiology that transitioned to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2020. 

“The great thing about the Hertz Foundation is the thoroughly proven, well-honed machine they have developed over decades to select outstanding graduate students. That process draws strength from the network effect of all the previous Hertz Fellows out there who assist in recommending students and helping them with their research. This new endowment doubles down on a winning bet on human ingenuity. In a world full of growing problems, that is one sure path to solutions,” Dr. Myhrvold said.

The initial recipients of the Nathan P. Myhrvold Fellowship will be chosen from the 2022 applicants and announced in May 2023. To learn more about the Hertz Fellows, please visit www.hertzfoundation.org/our-fellows

About the Hertz Foundation

Founded in 1957, the John and Fannie Hertz Foundation accelerates solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, from enhancing national security to improving human health. Through the Hertz Fellowship, the Foundation identifies the nation’s most promising young innovators and disruptors in science and technology, empowering them to become the future leaders who keep our country safe and secure. Today, a community of more than 1200 Hertz Fellows are a powerful, solution-oriented network of our nation’s top scientific minds, working to address complex problems and contributing to the economic vitality of our country. More information can be found online at www.HertzFoundation.org.