Bob Conn to Retire from Kavli Foundation

July 2, 2020

Dr. Robert W. Conn, President and CEO of the Kavli Foundation, has announced his intention to retire at the end of this year after 12 years of service there. He will be 78 in December.

Rock Hankin, Chairman of the Board of the Kavli Foundation, said of Bob:

“Through the dynamic leadership of Bob Conn, The Kavli Foundation has become one of the leading philanthropic organizations supporting basic science in the world. Through his vision, drive and thoughtfulness, Bob built on the work of our founder and benefactor, Fred Kavli, further establishing the foundation’s philanthropic leadership role within the scientific enterprise. During his 12 years, he has made many, often unique, contributions — from growing our Kavli Institutes to initiating new endeavors in science philanthropy, public engagement with science, and more. Honoring his decision to retire, the foundation’s board of directors and its staff thank him for his leadership and wish him well as he explores life’s continuing journey.”

The Foundation issued a more lengthy description of Bob's many accomplishments over the past 12 years, posted at:


In the 1970s and 1980s, Bob participated in some of the earliest studies of fusion as a potential source of electricity, and he served on numerous federal panels, committees, and boards advising the government on the subject. In the early 1970s, he co-founded the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), and in the mid-1980s he led the formation of the Institute of Plasma and Fusion Research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). As a university administrator in the 1990s and early 2000s, he served as Dean of the School of Engineering at UC San Diego as it established several engineering institutes and programs, including the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, known as Calit2, the Center for Wireless Communications, and the Whitaker Center for Biomedical Engineering.

Among many other honors, Bob received Fusion Power Associates Leadership Award in 1992.

On the occasion of Bob's 70th birthday, a symposium was held in his honor in 2003 at UCSD. A video of tribute presentations by George Tynan, Jerry Kulcinski, Steve Dean, Mohamed Abdou, Farrokh Najmabdi, Charlie Baker, Charlie Kennel, Jerry Navratil and others, including a response from Bob, can be found at:

"Presentations on Robert W. Conn", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUyJGGHNggo

For a more complete summary of Bob's life and career, see:


Bob can be reached at: rconn@kavlifoundation.org