Devendra Lal first visited the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego as a post—doc in 1958 and spent the next 50 years of contributing to basic research there. Now, he has left a legacy of a different-and equally important—kind: Lal's planned gift to the university established the Devendra and Aruna Lal Fellowship Endowment to support creative and exceptional Scripps graduate students in the fields of nuclear and isotope geochemistry and geophysics, chemical oceanography, glaciology, and climatology.
Lal wanted to support student research in these particular fields because he believed they are the fundamental driving force behind studies of modern climatology and global change. He considered the most important research activity at Scripps to be its graduate research program. He said, "If the level of research conducted by Scripps graduate students pushes the frontiers of science, the credit for it would go to both the students and the faculty."
The fellowship is named for the late scientist and his late wife, Aruna, who he said devoted her life to supporting his scientific career, both emotionally and in the lab. Lal joined the Scripps faculty in 1967, studying nuclear and isotopic geochemistry and geophysics.
The fellowship is intended to challenge the ingenuity of graduate students and help promote continued innovation. "It takes just one great scientist to make a significant difference to the level of an institution," said Lal. "One great event triggers great things."
Lal hoped this fellowship would make a positive impact for the institution as a whole. "I owe much of my career to Scripps and I want to give back something significant and lasting," Lal said.
It was also Lal's hope that his gift would serve as a model for other members of the Scripps community to show their support for the institution. He hoped his colleagues would contribute to the Devendra and Aruna Lal Fellowship Endowment, or to establish similar funds of their own.