The Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies was established in 2009 at the Field Museum through a $7.3 Million grant from the Tawani Foundation. The Field Museum houses one of the world’s largest meteorite collections.
The Tawani Foundation, founded by Chicago investor and philanthropist COL (IL) James N. Pritzker IL ARNG (Ret.), who developed a deep interest in meteorites over the last 12 years and has joined expeditions to Antarctica. The endowment established the Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies at the museum, named in honor of James Pritzker’s father, and includes academic salary for a curator in charge, a collections manager, and an adjunct curator.
The Center has a strong focus on research in meteoritics and cosmochemistry, in particular presolar grains research “Astrophysics in the Lab” and the study of the delivery history of extraterrestrial material to Earth through fossil meteorites, micrometeorites and terrestrial impact craters. The Center is also engaged in polar studies in collaboration with the SETI Institute and the Geological Survey of India.
Besides research the center is also engaged in graduate and undergraduate student education with University partners, and public outreach activities. In collaboration with the Field Museum’s Department of Education the center is involved with professional development for educators, docents, high school student education and family outreach.