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“The Big Bang Theory” Becomes The First TV Series To Create A UCLA STEM Scholarship

The hit CBS comedy about scientists and engineers want to help to create them for real with a newly formed endowment for STEM students in need of fianacial aid.

“The Big Bang Theory” Becomes The First TV Series To Create A UCLA STEM Scholarship
[Photo: Michael Yarish, courtesy of CBS, Warner Bros]

The Big Bang Theory is taking its geek cred seriously, creating what may be the first university STEM scholarship created by and named for a TV series—and certainly a first for UCLA.

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The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation, along with Big Bang stars, producers, and crew, Warner Bros. and CBS, and other industry leaders have pooled more than $4 million towards the The Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment at UCLA to help support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) undergraduates in need of financial aid.

The Big Bang TheoryActors: Johnny Galecki and Jim ParsonsPhoto: courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Series contributors include executive producers Bill Prady and Steven Molaro, plus stars Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik, and Melissa Rauch.

The show, which heads into its ninth season this fall, has long-standing ties to UCLA. Bialik earned Ph.D. in neuroscience from the university, while UCLA physics and astronomy professor David Saltzberg is the show’s science consultant.

“We have all been given a gift with The Big Bang Theory, a show that’s not only based in the scientific community, but also enthusiastically supported by that same community–this is our opportunity to give back,” said Big Bang co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre in a statement. “In that spirit, our Big Bang family has made a meaningful contribution, and together, we’ll share in the support of these future scholars, scientists, and leaders.”

“We are grateful for The Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment, whose contributors agree with us that economic standing should not hinder a deserving student’s shot at a degree from a university of UCLA’s caliber,” added UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

The cast of THE BIG BANG THEORYKunal Nayyar (second to the left), Johnny Galecki (third from left), Kaley Cuoco (center), Jim Parsons (second from right) and Simon Helberg (foreground, right) – on set with executive producers Bill Prady (far left) and Chuck Lorre (far right).Photo: Sonja Flemming, courtesy of CBS

UCLA will award the scholarships per need to low-income students who have earned admission on academic merit, but need additional support to bridge the gap between typical levels of financial aid and the cost of attendance.

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The inaugural group of 20 scholars will be announced this fall on the Big Bang set, joined by show, UCLA, and benefactor representatives. An additional five scholars will be added in each future academic year, in perpetuity.

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About the author

Susan Karlin is an award-winning journalist in Los Angeles, covering the nexus of science, technology, and arts, with a fondness for sci-fi and comics. She's a regular contributor to Fast Company, NPR, and IEEE Spectrum, and has written for Newsweek, Forbes, Wired, Scientific American, Discover, NY and London Times, and BBC Radio

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