The Marc J Staley Graduate Fellowship in Astronomy
Many serious amateur astronomers - myself included - would like to do more than just swing our scopes around the sky, look at neat things, and take pictures. We'd like to discover a new comet. Or be the first to see a supernova. Anything to advance the science we love.
But, like most of you, I just didn't have the resources to even hope for that, short of winning the lottery. Despite my limited outreach efforts (some successful) I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to get a lot more out of astronomy than astronomy was ever going to get out of me. I really wanted to give something back, but everything I could think of exceeded my limited capabilities.
About six weeks after I'd been told I had terminal cancer, in a totally unrelated email conversation with Prof. Alex Filippenko of U.C. Berkeley, he mentioned there were such things as graduate fellowships that assisted both students and his own research, and I might consider participating. Well, my retirement financial planning always revolved around not outliving my money, and this clearly was the least of my problems now. So, with Alex' guidance, I donated an amount that will support one student-year in his graduate program.
So, as of Feb 19, 2010 the Marc J Staley Graduate Fellowship in Astronomy exists at U.C. Berkeley. It won't last long. But it will last longer than me.
I would have liked to have discovered a comet, or been the first to see a supernova, but these just weren't in the cards. Hopefully, the student who receives this fellowship will do all the things I could but dream of doing.