This Koch Brother Is Into STEM Education: Here's Why

David H. Koch is the younger of the two Koch brothers who collectively are worth nearly $84 billion. The Koch family has several philanthropic outfits and the younger Koch does much of his giving through the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation. Koch received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from MIT. Before joining his father's company (which he now runs with his brother Charles), he was a research and process design engineer for Amicon Corporation and Arthur D. Little, Inc.

Suffice it to say, Koch is a lifelong engineer and many of his gifts over the years have been to support STEM education for the future generation of scientists. Koch gave $35 million to Deerfield Academy to establish the Koch Center for Science, Math and Technology, which opened in 2007. Koch attended Deerfield and is a lifetime member of the board of trustees. The center has a planetarium, laboratory spaces and 20 classrooms. (Click here to read more about the Koch Center). 

Koch fell in love with the American Museum of Natural History as a kid. Koch gave $20 million to establish the David H. Koch Dinosaur Hall at the museum, where he's a member of the board of directors. Koch also recently pledged $35 million to Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, where he sits on the board of trustees, to renovate another dinosaur hall that will also be named after him. 

Koch is also passionate about higher education. For the Koch brothers, this has translated into several think tanks and scholarships which promote the idea of "free society" and "economic freedom." According to the New Yorker, here's how one Koch confidant put it: “[the brothers wanted to] influence the areas where policy ideas percolate from: academia and think tanks.”

That influence, however, has sometimes led to controversy. Consider Koch's longtime support of WGBH, a public broadcasting outfit in Boston where Koch sits on the board of overseers and on the Science Visiting Council. If you haven't heard of WGBH, you've definitely heard of their television science program "Nova", the longest of its sort in history. It's unclear how much money Koch has given to WGBH over the years, but his influential position has left many environmental groups upset that the owner of a fossil fuels conglomerate (with an interest in downplaying climate change) could be in such a position.

Koch has also been battling prostate cancer since the early 1990s, leading him to become quite a passionate cancer research funder. He gave $100 million to establish the The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, Koch's alma mater. The motto of Koch's research center is "science + engineering = conquering cancer together." The Koch Biology Building and the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice were also established at MIT.