Ling-Lie Chau

Philanthropy from Professor Emerita of Physics Supports Students, Faculty and Research

Professor Emeriti Ling-Lie Chau poses with a photograph of Albert Einstein that is in the Physics building. 

During The Campaign for UC Davis, which celebrated a successful closure in May 2014, Ling-Lie Chau (喬玲麗), professor emerita of physics, has made a planned giving bequest agreement with UC Davis, generously providing $1M to endow a chair in physics through her estate, and will plan to increase the amount as her good health and fortune continue. The endowed chair will be for an outstanding female professor in theoretical physics (particle, condensed matter, cosmology) until the faculty gender ratio 1:1 is reached in theoretical physics, a field where women's participation has been very low, both historically and at present in the U.S. and worldwide. Professor Chau hopes that the endowed chair will bring about the awareness of the importance and advantages of gender diversity in furthering progress and at the same time encourage more women to enter this exciting field of research.

In addition to her estate plan, Professor Chau has made an endowment of $50K, equally matched by the UC Davis Foundation and Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, thereby creating a $100K endowment graduate student fellowship for research in the Department of Physics. She has also made an endowment of $25K, equally matched by the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, thus creating a $50K endowment graduate student award for brain research in the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience. The agreements have the statement that additional gifts to the fund from the donor, colleagues, friends and UC Davis are encouraged and will be graciously accepted.

Professor Chau received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1966; she then was recruited by and became a visiting member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, from 1967-1969. In 1969 she was recruited by the Theory Group, Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Long Island, NY. From 1969-1986 she advanced from assistant to senior physicist and for a few years during that period was the group leader of the Theory Group. She was recruited by UC Davis and became the first female professor in the Department of Physics in 1986 (and the only one until 1994). She was also invited to join the Graduate Group in Applied Mathematics (GGAM) at UC Davis. She retired in 2006 to concentrate on research in theoretical and mathematical physics, and has mentored Ph.D. students even after her retirement.

In 1984 she was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society "for contributions to a broad range of elementary particle physics theory including Regge phenomenology, weak decays, W production, and Yang-Mills Theory." In 2004 she was given the ASUCD Excellence in Education Award from the Associated Students UC Davis (ASUCD), which recognized her as "a Distinguished UC Davis Educator."

On her gifts and bequest to UC Davis, Chau said, "These gifts are tokens to express my appreciation to UC Davis for the excellent intellectual environment that I have enjoyed ever since my arrival in 1986, and to express my belief that excellence and diversity in education and research are important and deserve to be encouraged and supported."

"Professor Chau's gift in support of so many areas in the physical sciences is beyond measure," said Alexandra Navrotsky, interim dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. "Her gifts will advance our understanding of the brain, create bright futures for many graduate students and support a succession of strong female physicists in the years to come."

Read more in the Fall 2014 issue of UC Davis Magazine;