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Joan and Ron Schwartz Fund Research Grants Now, with More to Come from Their Estate Plan

Photo of Joan and Ron Schwartz

After meeting in organic chemistry lab at Cornell, Dr. Joan Poyner Schwartz and Dr. Ronald H. Schwartz both graduated with chemistry degrees in 1965, both worked for years as biomedical researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and both have been supporting women in the sciences for decades. Now the couple has created the Schwartz Research Grants for Women in the Life Sciences to provide competitive research grants to female assistant and associate professors in the life sciences at Cornell.

The grants have already begun—funded from a charitable remainder trust—and the endowment for the grants will be significantly expanded with a future estate gift.

“It was really easy to work with Cornell; they made it possible for our gifts to have real impact,” Joan said.

Joan and Ron decided to terminate their charitable remainder trust and use the funds to begin the endowment because they no longer needed the trust income and they wanted to establish a permanent funding source for the research grants during life. They are currently providing multiple one-year research grants; with their estate gift those grants will continue and a new three-year Visionary research grant will be made available.

“As a woman scientist, I personally saw how we struggled to keep up in an ‘old boys’ network,’ ” Joan said. “Funding and career advancement opportunities went to men.”

Added Ron, “I saw this happening—to my wife and to other women. We have spent the last 20 years working on supporting women in the sciences.”

Ron was an All-American fencer at Cornell, while Joan has been an active member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women. After Cornell they both earned advanced degrees from Harvard University before going to work at NIH. They very recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, with close Cornell friends present.

“We approached several institutions (about the research grants), and Cornell’s staff had the enthusiasm and curiosity to make our passion a reality,” they said. “Cornell made us feel loved.”