Accessibility Menu
Press ctrl + / to access this menu.

The Wilkes Center


Backed by $20 Million Gift, University of Utah Launches The Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy.


On August 24, the University of Utah announced the creation of the interdisciplinary Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy to promote research, study effective public policies and propose entrepreneurial business solutions to curb and combat the threats that climate change poses to human and environmental health.

The center, which the University anticipates will become a national and international model, is being launched through a $20 million gift from the Red Crow Foundation, the philanthropy of Marie and Clay Wilkes.

William Anderegg, an associate professor at the University and world-renowned climate scientist, has been appointed the Center’s director. The Center will leverage work being conducted by researchers throughout the University.


Dean Peter Trapa

"The Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy is a 21st-century interdisciplinary model – one that will make it so much easier to conduct high-impact research and make science-based recommendations to decision-makers."


Clay Wilkes, a Utah businessman, technologist and environmentalist, proposed creation of the center last year to University President Taylor Randall. With support from the governor and other state officials, the University quickly moved to make it a reality.

"Because of the state’s unique geography, every facet of the environment impacts Utah. Our ability to address these urgent and immediate problems, locally and internationally, will serve as a model for governments and communities throughout the world. With this new center, the University of Utah is leading by example, and we challenge every other university within the state and beyond to do likewise.”


Clay Wilkes

“Climate change is one of two or three issues that are absolutely critical to humanity,” Wilkes said. “As I consider the difference I can make for my grandchildren and so many other generations that follow, there is no more important cause."


Wilkes and University officials note that Utah, by dint of its geography and ecology, is a living laboratory for the deleterious impacts of climate change and the potential for innovative solutions.

Climate change is already having major impacts in Utah and the West. The mountains around Salt Lake City, which create a bowl that can concentrate air pollution and particulates from even far-away wildfires, are plagued by dying forests. The Great Salt Lake is rapidly drying, allowing the wind to scatter potentially hazardous dust. The state’s farmers and residents are experiencing water scarcity from the ongoing mega-drought in the Southwest that is being fueled by climate change. And all of these are symptoms of the global issues linked to climate change.


President Taylor Randall

“Thousands of students from various disciplines will participate in Center programs each year and have the chance to work with the Center’s research faculty,”


“We will educate a new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, advance basic and applied research, and address some of the most difficult and important questions posed by climate change. We are grateful for Clay and Marie’s foresight and dedication to this effort.’’

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox praised the creation of the Wilkes Center, which can further the work the University has already been doing to reduce its own carbon and energy footprints and to create models for clean energy throughout the states. “Our state stands to benefit directly from the important work the Wilkes Center will be conducting — not only from the standpoint of Utah’s people and environment, but from the national and global leadership in science-based policy and business innovation the University of Utah can demonstrate."


Governor Spencer Cox

“As people around the globe seek solutions, the world’s eyes will turn to the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy.”


The Center’s efforts will be enhanced by the annual Wilkes Summit, drawing international experts to address a themed set of issues around climate change. The summit will also  feature the annual awarding of the Wilkes Prize, including a prestigious financial award, to an innovator who has tackled a major challenge in climate change and devised a meaningful solution.

Clay Wilkes was founder of Salt Lake City-based Galileo Financial Technologies, a provider of payments and financial services technology, which was acquired by the online personal finances company SoFi in 2020.

The Red Crow Foundation is Clay and Marie Wilkes’ charitable arm devoted to climate change and education, named for Marie’s third great-grandfather, a chief of the Blackfeet Nation. Clay Wilkes said he and Marie are highly selective in their philanthropic efforts.  “Putting our name on something would have to mean something,’’ he said of the Wilkes Center. “This is the most important thing that we will ever do.”


Wilkes Center Climate Prize Winner

Lumen Bioscience is the inaugural winner of the $1.5 million Wilkes Center Climate Prize

Read More
Climate-Resilient Western Grid

The U and University of Calgary will establish and co-lead the U.S.-Canada Center

Read More
Finalists vie for historic $1.5M Wilkes Climate Prize

Which of 5 candidates would you choose to help fight climate change?

Read More
A Stark Message from Maui

How climate change puts property values at risk in forested areas

Read More
Sister Cities Panel

Wilkes Center climate change panel between Sister City leaders

Read More
William Anderegg Receives Blavatnik Award

Anderegg is one of three to receive the 2023 Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists

Read More
An Unexpected Climate Solution

Generating power through artificial muscles

Read More
William Anderegg Receives NSF Waterman Award

William Anderegg is one of three awardees who will receive $1 million for research

Read More
Storm Peak

Storm Peak is a lab and a classroom.

Read More

Without the lake, skiers and riders will have little to enjoy.

Read More
Climate Hackathon

“I woke up at 4:30 a.m. that second day, and it was like, we’ve gotta get this done!"

Read More

Construction has begun on the University of Utah’s new Applied Sciences facility.

Read More
GSL Strike Team

The Great Salt Lake can be saved. This is how we do it.

Read More
Saving Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake can be saved. This is how we do it.

Read More
Applied Science Building

Construction has begun on the University of Utah’s new Applied Sciences facility.

Read More
Magnesium Pollution?

Research helps explain Salt Lake City's persistent air quality problems.

Read More

Studying the clouds in cleanest air on Earth.

Read More
Collaboration of the Cited

Biology’s ‘highly cited’ researchers collaborate in forest science.

Read More
Art & Air Quality

Public art piece finds common ground in the fight for air quality.

Read More
Storm Peak Laboratory

One of only a handful of high elevation weather labs in the world.

Read More
King of the Playa

On a crisp October morning, Kevin Perry pedaled his bike across the Great Salt Lake playa.

Read More
Bonneville Salt Flats

Search for solutions drives race to save Bonneville Salt Flats.

Read More
Wilkes Climate Prize

This $1.5 million prize supporting innovative projects that help address the impact of cli

Read More
Construction Update

Construction is about to begin on the University of Utah’s new Applied Sciences facility.

Read More
Toxic Dust Hot Spots

Where is Great Salt Lake's toxic dust most likely to originate?

Read More
Wilkes Scholars

Wilkes Scholars explore climate challenges facing our state, region, and planet.

Read More
At-Risk Forests

Bill Anderegg quantifies the risk to forests from climate change along three dimensions.

Read More
Air Pollution

Utah’s air quality issues have been with us for a long time.

Read More
SRI Research: Smoke Plumes

SRI Stream Leader Kai Wilmot, studies increasing wildfire plume height

Read More
Air Tracker

John Lin adapted his research group’s atmospheric model to run as part of Air Tracker.

Read More
Interactive Forest Maps

Threats impacting forests are increasing nationwide.

Read More
How Trees Grow

William Anderegg explores the relationship between photosynthesis and cell growth.

Read More
Allergy Season

Climate change is making allergy season last longer.

Read More
Lake of Dust

Is Utah’s great lake turning to dust?

Read More
Forest Futures

William Anderegg explains the risks of investing in forests.

Read More

>> HOME <<