The field of atomic and molecular physics—an obscure and mystifying subject to most—is one thing that powerfully unites Denise Caldwell and Manfred Krause. Before they met in person at a physics workshop in 1985, they knew of each other from articles each had published in professional journals. After meeting, they began a research collaboration that lasted more than 10 years, while pursuing their separate careers as physicists. Denise still works at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, and Manfred is retired from a decades-long career at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
As scientists, they share a deep respect for the natural world—its complexity, interconnectedness and value to all life on Earth. They also share an appreciation for The Nature Conservancy and its science-based approach that focuses on the intricate connections within ecosystems.
“As someone who is particularly interested in the physics of living systems, the Conservancy’s wholesystems view is an effective way to approach the complexity of life,” says Denise. “And preserving the diversity of life is absolutely essential to the future of the planet.”
While Denise’s appreciation for nature developed later in life, Manfred recalls a childhood full of hikes and outdoor explorations in Stuttgart, Germany. Today, the two regularly enjoy nature together, whether walking along the Potomac River near their home or hiking in magnificent mountains out West and abroad.
“We spent our honeymoon in France at a friend’s chalet near the Mont Blanc,” says Manfred. “I guess you could say that that set the stage for our life together enjoying the outdoors!”
Both Manfred and Denise strongly believe in the Conservancy’s cooperative and collaborative approach. Both of their undesignated gifts to the Conservancy—a bequest and a life-income gift— demonstrate their hope for the future and their great trust in the organization.
“It is like an endowment,” says Manfred. “I trust that the Conservancy will use my contribution in the best possible way.”
“I believe the Conservancy will support what needs to be supported,” continues Denise. “And for both of us, the Conservancy’s grounding in science helps ensure that our investments will pay off.”
Like true scientists, Manfred and Denise view their gifts as one part of a greater whole—as building blocks for future action to preserve the splendor and diversity of the natural world.
Says Manfred, “They are small contributions, but even small amounts will help keep the work going.”
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