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WHOI Receives $1 Million Award for Early-Career Scientists from Grayce B. Kerr Fund

WHOI Receives $1 Million Award for Early-Career Scientists  from Grayce B. Kerr Fund

September 2, 2016

The Grayce B. Kerr Fund has awarded the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) $1 million to establish an endowment in memory of WHOI Life Trustee Breene Kerr.

The Breene M. Kerr Early Scientist Endowment Fund will assist scientists in developing and launching their own research programs at a critical point in their careers.

“Early in their careers, scientists must establish themselves by building key collaborations and grow their body of work through scientific publications,” said WHOI President and Director Mark Abbott. “At the same time, they must obtain grant funding in order to support their salaries and their research. This generous endowment from the Grayce B. Kerr Fund targets scientists who will benefit greatly from this kind of support at a time when they need it most. It is a fitting tribute to Breene, a long-time friend to the Institution.”

Born in 1929, Breene had a more than 20-year association with WHOI before his death in 2015. He served first as a member of the WHOI Corporation and then as a Trustee and ultimately a Life Trustee, deeply involving himself for most of those years as a member of the Institution’s Finance Committee.  In 1985, Breene and his wife Sheryl formed the nonprofit philanthropy the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, in honor of Breene’s mother.

“We’re pleased to be able to establish this fund in Breene’s name,” said John Valliant, president of the Grayce B. Kerr Fund. “Breene was an avid sailor, passionate about the ocean and science, and profoundly committed to WHOI.”

The Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Inc. is a Maryland-based independent philanthropy that supports educational achievement and cultural growth. The Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Inc. seeks opportunities for significant impact by strategically investing in the health and viability of organizations and innovative programs in the Fund’s areas of interest.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit



John Valliant
Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Inc.

WHOI Media Relations