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2008

Michael ElowitzMichael Elowitz, Assistant Professor of Biology and Applied Physics and Bren Scholar, has received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. The PECASE awards recognize outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge. 12.23.08

The editors of Nature have published a list of 22 of their favourite articles from 2008 - including Programming biomolecular self-assembly pathways by Niles Pierce, Niles PierceAssociate Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Bioengineering, and colleagues, and Frequency-modulated nuclear localization Michael Elowitzbursts coordinate gene regulation by Michael Elowitz, Assistant Professor ofBiology and Applied Physics and Bren Scholar, and colleagues. 12.22.08

The Big Bang is widely considered to have obliterated any trace of what came before. Caltech astrophysicists think that their new theoretical interpretation of an imprint from the earliest stages of the universe may also shed light on what came before. Read more... 12.15.08

The paper "Mapping Two-Way Grids on to Free-Form Surfaces" by Sergio Pellegrino, Professor of Aeronautics and Civil Sergio PellegrinoEngineering, and co-authors Pete Winslow and Shrikant Sharma has been selected as the winner of the IASS Tsuboi Award in the category of the most outstanding paper in the Proceedings of the 2007 IASS Symposium. Pellegrino has also received a best paper recognition for "Computation of Partially Inflated Shapes of Stratospheric Balloon Structures"with co-author Xiaowei Deng. This work has has been selected as the best paper by the ASME Aerospace Structures and Materials Technical Committee. The award will be presented at the 50th AIAA SDSM conference. 12.08.08

Anne Campbell, Director Systems Engineering and Management at Caltech's Industrial Relations Center, has received recognition from Northrop Grumman Corporation for outstanding leadership, energy, and collaboration on providing innovative educational opportunities for the aerospace industry. The award was presented by Frank Flores, Vice President, Engineering and Programs, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems on November 7, 2008. 12.08.08

Ares Rosakis, Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering; Director, GALCIT, has been Ares Rosakiselected to the grade of Fellow in the Society of Experimental Mechanics. Designation as an SEM Fellow is reserved to a select group of individuals that have made notable contributions to the Society and to the field of Experimental Mechanics. The formal presentation of the 2009 Fellow Award will take place at the Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, June 2, during the SEM Annual Conference that is scheduled to be held June 1 - 3, 2009 in Albuquerque, NM. 12.08.08

Caltech researchers find ancient climate cycles recorded in Mars rocks. Read more... 12.05.08

Mory GharibUsing an MRI technique, Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioengineering, and his colleague Abbas Nasiraei Moghaddam, a Caltech graduate and visitor in Bioengineering, were able to create some of the first dynamic images of normal heart muscle in action at the tissue level. They showed that a muscular band--which wraps around the inner chambers of the heart in a helix--is actually a sort of twisting highway along which each contraction of the heart travels. "We tagged and traced small tissue elements in the heart, and looked at them in space, so we could see how they moved when the heart contracts," Gharib explains. "In this way, we were able to see where the maximum physical contraction occurs in the heart and when--and to show that it follows this intriguing helical loop." Read more... 12/01/08

Michael ElowitzDiscover magazine recently published its annual 50 Best Brains in Science issue, and the "20 Under 40" list which highlights "a new generation of innovators changing the way we think about everything from theoretical mathematics to cancer therapy." Tapio SchneiderFour researchers from Caltech (three from EAS) were cited: Michael Elowitz (Assistant Professor of Biology and Applied Physics; Bren Scholar; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute), Sarkis Mazmanian (Assistant Professor of Biology), Tapio Schneider (Associate Professor of Changhuei YangEnvironmental Science and Engineering), and Changhuei Yang (Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering). Go to Discover website... 11.14.08

The Gates Frontiers Fund has pledged $10 million to support the establishment of the Charles C. Gates Center for Mechanical Engineering within the soon-to-be-renovated Thomas Laboratory. This gift marks the launch of a $20 million fund-raising effort for an endowment in Mechanical Engineering. With this endowment, mechanical engineering at Caltech will step up its efforts in energy innovation, helping the Institute address global energy and climate problems and the country develop energy-market leadership. Read more... 11.14.08

William Johnson, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, and Dr. Akihisa Inoue of William Johnsonthe Institute for Materials Research have been awarded the American Physical Society 2009 James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials "for the development of slow cooling methods for the fabrication of bulk metallic glasses with remarkable mechanical properties and the characterization and application of these materials" The prize will be awarded at the March 2009 APS meeting in Pittsburgh. 11.14.08

A man-made reef designed to grow into a self-sustaining 175-acre kelp forest - the biggest environmental project of its kind in the United States - has been named in memory Wheeler North (1922–2002), professor of environmental science at Caltech who pioneered the study of kelp and what makes for a healthy reef. The Wheeler North Kelp Reef is located off the coast near San Clemente. Read more... 11.14.08

A team of five Caltech undergraduates placed third in this year's international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition. Read more... 11.14.08

Four members of the 11-member chemical engineering faculty at Caltech were honored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in their list of 100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era: Frances Arnold, Mark Davis, Julia Kornfield, and John Seinfeld. Read more... 11.04.08

The Lemelson-Caltech Student Prize recognizing an undergraduate or graduate student who has created or improved a product or process, applied a technology in a new way, redesigned a system, or in other ways demonstrated remarkable inventiveness has been established. The winner will receive an unrestricted cash gift of $30,000. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2008. Read more... 10.31.08

Popular Mechanics honored a group of Caltech alumni at its annual Breakthrough Awards ceremony on October 15. Rudy Caltech AlumniRoy ('07), Ben Sexson ('07), and Daniel Oliver ('07), along with Art Center alum Charles Pyott, received the magazine's Next Generation Award for establishing the nonprofit organization Intelligent Mobility International (IMI). IMI's mission is to empower people with disabilities in developing countries by designing and producing safe, affordable wheelchairs made for the rugged terrain of rural communities. The project originated in 2006, in a Caltech class called Product Design for the Developing World, which is taught each fall by Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ken Pickar. Read more on green design in Caltech News... 10.28.08

Christina Smolke, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and Maung Nyan Win, postdoctoral scholar in chemical engineering have created a "plug-and-play" synthetic RNA device--a sort of eminently customizable biological computer--that is capable of taking in and responding to more than one biological or environmental signal at a time. Such devices could have a multitude of potential medical applications, including being used as sensors to sniff out tumor cells or determine when to turn modified genes on or off during cancer therapy. Read more.... 10.22.08

The Wouk Lecture, Life in a Changing Climate, was given by Jorg Imberger at 8 pm on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 in Beckman Auditorium. Synthsizing anthropological, cultural, and religious history with biological observations and the data on climate change, Imberger ruminates on the coming "50-year global experiment where we are both the observers and the subjects and for which we have neither a hypothesis nor an objective". Jorg Imberger is the Director at the Centre for Water Research and Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Western Australia. The lecture is free and open to the public. Read more... 10.20.08

Michael ElowitzHow a cell achieves the coordinated control of a number of genes at the same time, a process that's necessary for it to regulate its own behavior and development, has long puzzled scientists. Michael Elowitz, assistant professor of biology and applied physics, along with postdoctoral research scholar Long Cai, and graduate student Chiraj Dalal, have discovered a surprising answer. Just as human engineers control devices ranging from dimmer switches to retrorockets using pulsed--or frequency modulated (FM)--signals, cells tune the expression of groups of genes using discrete bursts of activation. Read more.... 10.17.08

John DabiriJohn Dabiri, assistant professor of aeronautics and bioengineering, has been named one of "Brilliant Ten" by Popular Science Magazine. Dabiri is the youngest scientist on the list at just 28 years of age. Dubbed "the jellyfish engineer" by the magazine, he garnered the award for his studies of the intricacies of jellyfish locomotion. Using a custom-built, high-definition video camera and a water-particle-illuminating laser, Dabiri and his colleagues are able to examine the fluid dynamics that determine how jellyfish propel themselves through their watery environment. Their hope is that those insights will be used to improve the designs of nonbiological systems as diverse as military submarines and onshore windmills. Read more... 10.15.08

Paul BellanAn explanation for a strange property of night-shining clouds has been proposed by Paul Bellan, Professor of Applied Physics. Noctilucent clouds - thin, wispy electric blue clouds clouds hovering at 85 km altitude - are highly reflective to radar. Ice grains in noctilucent clouds are coated with a thin film of metal, made of sodium and iron. The metal film causes radar waves to reflect off ripples in the cloud in a manner analogous to how x-rays reflect from a crystal lattice. Read more... 09.29.08

Kerry VahalaKerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Professor of Applied Physics, has won an Alexander Von Humboldt Research Award. The Humboldt award recognizes academics whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements. Vahala has also been awarded and the IEEE David Sarnoff Award for exceptional contributions to electronics, and in particular, "for seminal contributions to improved dynamics of quantum well semiconductor lasers." 09.29.08

Alexei Kitaev, Professor of Theoretical Physics and Computer Science, has been named a MacArthur Fellow, winning one of the five-year, $500,000 grants that are awarded annually to Alexei Kitaevcreative, original individuals and that are often referred to as the "genius" awards. Kitaev explores the mysterious behavior of quantum systems and their implications for developing practical applications, such as quantum computers. He has made important theoretical contributions to a wide array of topics within condensed-matter physics, including quasicrystals and quantum chaos. Read more... 09.23.08

Sossina HaileThe National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded an American Competitiveness and Innovation (ACI) Fellowship to Sossina M. Haile, Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, "for her timely and transformative research in the energy field and her dedication to inclusive mentoring, education and outreach across many levels." This recognition program honors current NSF grantees who have demonstrated a combination of transformative research accomplishments and outstanding contributions toward education, mentoring, and broadening participation of women, underrepresented minorities, and people with disabilities. 09.23.08

Professor James BeckThe European Association of Structural Dynamics (EASD) has awarded the 2008 EASD Senior Research Prize in the area of computational structural mechanics to James Beck, Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, for his outstanding novel contributions to computational procedures in assessing uncertainty propagation and reliability of large structural systems under dynamic excitation. 09.09.08

Research by Mark Changizi and Professor Shinsuke Shimojo on binocular vision has revealed a type of x-ray vision that "sees through" objects. Says Changizi, "As long as the separation between our eyes is wider than the width of the objects causing clutter, we can generally see through it." Read more... 09.04.08

Mory GharibMorteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and professor of bioengineering, and his team has been honored with R&D Magazine's R&D 100 Award recognizing significant new technologies from the past year. The team designed a three-dimensional camera with a vast array of possibilities, ranging from 3-D movement tracking for rehabilitation to underwater surveillance. Read more... 09.02.08

Peng Yin, a senior postdoctoral scholar in bioengineering and computer science at IST Center for Biological Circuit Design, along with his colleagues, has designed a series of flexible, single-stranded DNA molecules for nanoscale manufacturing. The group has developed a simple process for mass producing these molecular tubes of identical, and precisely programmable, circumferences. Read more... 09.02.08

Michael DickinsonMichael Dickinson, Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, and graduate student Gwyneth Card have determined the secret to a fly's evasive maneuvering using high-resolution, high-speed digital imaging of fruit flies faced with that looming swatter. Read more... 09.02.08

Julia GreerJulia Greer, Assistant Professor of Materials Science,has been recognized by Technology Review magazine as one of the world's top innovators underthe age of 35 for her work with materials on a nanoscale level. Selected from more than 300 nominees by a panel of expert judges and the editorial staff of Technology Review, the TR35 is an elite group of accomplished young innovators who exemplify the spirit of innovation. Read more... 08.19.08

Erik WinfreeThe National Science Foundation's Expeditions in Computing program has awarded $10 million to the Molecular Programming Project, a collaborative effort by researchersat Caltech and the University of Washington, led by Professor Erik Winfree, to establish a fundamental approach to the design of complex molecular and chemical systems based on the principles of computer science. Read more... 08.18.08

Adam WiermanProfessor Adam Wierman has been named a recipient of the 2008 Okawa Foundation Research Grant. This prize honors top young researchers working in the fields of information and telecommunications. The grant awardees will be honored by the Okawa Foundation on October 8 in San Francisco. 08.18.08

Sander WeinrebThe 2008 Grote Reber Medal for lifetime innovative contributions to radio astronomy has been awarded to Sander Weinreb, Faculty Associate in Electrical Engineering. Weinreb is being honoured for his pioneering developments of novel techniques and instrumentation over nearly half a century which have helped to define modern radio astronomy. 08.18.08

Emmanuel CandesEmmanuel Candes, Ronald and Maxine Linde Professor ofApplied and Computational Mathematics, has garnered the 2008 Information Theory Society Paper Award jointly with Terence Tao and David Donoho. Their ground-breaking papers were cited for independently introducing the new area of compressed sensing, which holds great promise for processing massive amounts of data, and has already had a broad impact on a diverse set of fields, including signal processing, information theory, function approximation, MRI, and radar design. Read more... 08.18.08

Neurobiologist Melissa Saenz discovers individuals who "hear" movement. Read more... 08.06.08

A grant of $20 million to Harry Gray, Beckman Professor of Chemistry, and colleagues has been awarded to ramp up efforts to make solar fuels using materials made from Earth-abundant elements. Read more... 08.04.08

Changhuei Yang, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues have turned science fiction into reality with their development of a super-compact high-resolution microscope, small enough to fit on a finger tip. This "microscopic microscope" operates without lenses but has the magnifyingpower of a top-quality optical microscope, can be used in the field to analyze blood samples for malaria or check water supplies for giardia and other pathogens, and can be mass-produced for around $10. Read more... 07.28.08

Caltech Faculty Associate Jeff Snyder and colleagues have invented a new material that will make cars even more efficient by converting heat lost through engine exhaust into electricity. In a paper published July 25 in the journal Science, the scientists describe the unique thermoelectric material, which has twice the efficiency other such materials currently on the market, and works most effectively in the temperature range typical of automobile engines. The same technology could also work in power generators and heat pumps. Read more at www.sciencemag.org. 07.25.08

Tapio Schneider, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, has come up with a new explanation for the formation of monsoons. Schneider and colleague Simona Bordoni, who will start as an assistant professor at Caltech in 2009, propose an overhaul of a theory about the cause of the seasonal pattern of heavy winds and rainfall that essentially had held firm for more than 300 years. Read more... 07.25.08

"I've had an incredible couple of decades living my dream of working with Major League Baseball. It's all a direct result of my work with SURF, and I'm still going strong with it."--Ari Kaplan (BS '92) Read more... 07.21.08

Axel van de Walle, Assistant Professor of Materials Science, has developed a general formalism to represent structure-property relationships in crystals. It enables the prediction, from a database of quantum mechanical calculations, of anisotropic material properties such as elasticity, piezoelectricity, dielectric constants, etc. As an application, he developed predictive models of anisotropic properties relevant to the design and optimization of III–V semiconductor epitaxial optoelectronic devices. This work was recently highlighted as the cover feature of Nature Materials. Read article and commentary... 07.11.08

The winners of Caltech's first Art of Science Competition have been announced. 05.29.08

Studies of the brains of blind persons whose sight was Melissa Saenzpartially restored later in life have produced a compelling example of the brain's ability to adapt to new circumstances and rewire and reconfigure itself. The research, conducted by postdoctoral researcher Melissa Saenz along with Christof Koch, the Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Christof KochCognitive and Behavioral Biology and professor of computation and neural systems, and their colleagues, shows that the part of the brain that processes visual information in normal individuals can be co-opted to respond to both visual and auditory information. Read more... 05.29.08

More than 50 types of illusions have been systematically organized and explained by scientists at Caltech. Read more...05.29.08

World Wide Telescope (WWT), a new Microsoft product, combines cosmic imagery and educational content from many sources, including major ground-based sky surveys. A significant portion of the data was processed at Caltech's Center for Advanced Computing Research (CACR). Read more... 05.29.08

The newly established Keck Institute for Space Studies is accepting proposals for mini-programs. Read more... 05.29.08

A. J. Colussi, senior research associate in environmental science and engineering, and colleagues have found that airborne particulates impair the lungs' natural defenses against ozone. Their research focused on what happens when air meets the thin layer of antioxidant-rich fluid that covers our lungs, protecting them from ozone, an air pollutant that pervades major cities. "We found new chemistry at the interfaces separating gases from liquids using a technique that continuously monitors the composition of these interfaces," Colussi says. Under normal physiological conditions, ascorbic acid instantly scavenges ozone, generating innocuous byproducts. However, the researchers discovered that when the fluid is acidic, a pathological condition found in asthmatics, ascorbic acid instead reacts with ozone to form potentially harmful compounds called ozonides. Read more... 05.26.08

Mani Chandy, Simon Ramo Professor and Professor of Mani ChandyComputer Science, Mathieu Desbrun, Associate Professor of Computational Science and Engineering and Computer Science, and Joel Tropp, Assistant Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics, have Mathieu Desbrunbeen recognized as exceptional teachers by the students at Caltech. Each has won a 2007-2008 ASCIT prize, awarded by the undergraduate Academics and Research Committee (ARC) and the Associated Joel TroppStudents of the California Institute of Technology (ASCIT). This award is bestowed upon only five faculty members each year. 05.13.08

Michael Elowitz, Assistant Professor of Biology and Applied Physics and a Bren Scholar, has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator. Elowitz is fundamentally interested in how cells' own genetic circuits dictate what type of cells they become. In work that overturned the steadfastnotion that genes and networks of genes operate in a predictable and fixed fashion, he and his colleagues showed that key properties of the cell, like how actively it turns out different proteins, are intrinsically random. To show that randomness is used to more accurately control the shapes and patterns that make organisms work, Elowitz is turning to larger and more complex animal cells. "I'm grateful to HHMI for the amazing opportunity this appointment presents to focus as much as possible on research. The funds will enable us to explore new directions, especially allowing us to expand approaches we've previously developed primarily in bacteria to mammalian cells." Read more... 05.13.08

Chiara DaraioChiara Daraio, Professor Aeronautics and Applied Physics, has won the 2008 Richard von Mises Prize. This prize is awarded each year by the International Association of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics (GAMM) to a young scientist for exceptional scientific achievements in the field of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics. The prize was awarded at the opening ceremony of the Annual meeting of GAMM in March, in Bremen, Germany. 05.07.08

Michael Dickinson, Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, is among the 190 new Fellows elected to the American Michael DickinsonAcademy of Arts and Sciences this year. Dickinson studies animal physiology and behavior and has become well known for Robofly, a mechanical fly that sprang from his work on the neurobiology and biomechanics of fly locomotion. Throughout his career, Dickinson has used a variety of tools, such as wind tunnels, virtual reality simulators, high-speed video, and giant robotic models, to determine how the poppy seed-sized brains of these tiny insects can rapidly control aerodynamic forces. More than a simple understanding of the material basis for insect flight, Dickinson's studies provide insight into complex systems operating on biological and physical principles: neuronal signaling within brains, the dynamics of unsteady fluid flow, the structural mechanics of composite materials, and the behavior of nonlinear systems are all linked when a fly takes wing. Read more... 04.30.08

The topping off of the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology occurred on April 24 (live webcam). The last girder, with the flag and a tree, was hoisted and placed. The building, designed by the architectural firm Frederick Fisher and Partners in Los Angeles, will serve as home to participants in the IST initiative, a program of interdisciplinary research and instruction that addresses the growth and impact of information as it relates to all science and engineering practices. The types of questions that IST researchers seek to answer are: What are the theoretical foundations of information? What are the fundamental physical limits to information? How does nature compute and communicate information? How does information shape social systems? The Annenberg Foundation donated $25 million toward the construction of the approximately 50,000-square-foot building. Caltech Trustee, Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., donated $1 million in support of the final stages of construction. 04.24.08

Using computer models of neuronal circuits and experiments on live rats, Athanassios Siapas, Assistant Professor of Computation and Neural Systems, and his postdoctoral researcher Evgueniy Lubenov are revealing the curious mechanism by which the brain spontaneously tips itself Athanassios Siapastoward a state balanced between order and chaos. The driving factor in the brain's self-regulation, they say, is the timing of neural pulses. "Networks self-organize to an intermediate state, in between the two extremes," Siapas says. Read more... 04.18.08

Pasadena's largest-ever solar-energy facility will be installed on the Caltech campus. Read more... 04.18.08

To address the complex issue of global climate change from a wide range of disciplines, Ronald and Maxine Linde have established an $18 million endowment for the Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science, uniting faculty from chemistry, engineering, geology, environmental science, and other fields. The initiative will help Caltech achieve its vision of having an integrated program in global environmental science, spanning the many disciplines that must make up such a program. Edward Stolper, Caltech's provost, explains that the Linde Center "will provide a central home and focus for researchers and students working on understanding natural variations in and the impact of human activity on the global environment. These are among the most important and most difficult problems facing our society." Read more... 04.15.08

"If you make structures that are impeccably designed, they also often tend to work really well," says Michael Roukes, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Roukes micrographBioengineering. He along with senior research associate in computation and neural systems and computer science Paul Rothemund are scientists who can now add artist to their resumes. Rothemund's DNA origami and a colorized electron micrograph of Roukes's nanoscience work were displayed in Design and the Elastic Mind at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Roukes's micrograph was even selected for the museum's permanent collection. Read more... 04.10.08

David Boyd, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, graduate student James Adleman, Demitri Psaltis, Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering, and David Goodwin, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, have crafted the world's tiniest still to concentrate scant amounts of micromolecules for easier detection. This device may help to overcome difficulties in tracking extremely low-abundance molecular biomarkers, which can indicate disease. Read more... 04.09.08

Seeing a burgeoning new research field at the interface of biology and engineering, the Benjamin M. Rosen Family Foundation of New York has donated $18 million to the California Institute of Technology to establish the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center. The Rosen Center will advance both basic scientific exploration and development of engineering analysis and synthetic approaches. Innovations in these areas are resulting in rugged and inexpensive diagnostic devices, in new insights into the functioning of the heart, and in the engineering of molecular devices capable of recognizing and responding to disease processes in individual cells. Read more... 04.03.08

Michael RoukesNanotechnology: The Power of Small will be broadcast on KCET in Los Angeles on consecutive Mondays in April, beginning April 7, at 8pm. Michael Roukes, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering, is a contributor tothe second episode which explores nanotechnology’s potential contributions to health and human enhancement. 03.31.08

In a Watson Lecture entitled The Next-Generation Neural Implant: Let's Start with Retinal Implants, Professor of Electrical Engineering Yu-Chong Tai discusses the technology of retinal implants and recent progress in their development. 03.27.08

After 16 days in space and 250 orbits of Earth, space shuttle Endeavour touched down at 8:39 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 26, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. According to NASA managers, the crew members, including Caltech alumnus Robert Behnken (MS '93, PhD '97), "are in excellent shape after a safe and successful landing". 03.27.08

Gordon E. Moore (PhD '54) and Carver Mead (BS '56, MS '57, PhD '60), Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, chat about the electronics revolution (posted on You Tube in late 2007, conversation begins about 19 minutes into the clip). 03.27.08

Michael DickinsonUsing a flight simulator, Michael Dickinson, the Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, and postdoctoral students Gaby Maimon and Andrew Straw, have come closer to understanding what guides the decision making of the common fruit fly as it zips through space. Their experiments were conducted on both free-flying flies and on flies tethered within a virtual-reality flight simulator. In the flight simulator, flies could steer toward or away from images displayed on an electronic panorama. "We can present the fly with different scenes and the fly reacts to them, like a 12-year-old boy playing a video game," says Dickinson. Read more... 03.25.08

Sam Wang (BS ’86, Physics), currently a professor at Princeton's Neuroscience Institute, a has written a kind of user’s manual for the brain called Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys But Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life. Read more... 03.21.08

Two EAS faculty have won ONR Young Investigator Awards: John Dabiri, John DabiriAssistant Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, and Joel Tropp, Assistant Professor of Appliedand Computational Mathematics. The objectives of the Young Investigator Program are to attract to naval research outstanding new Joel Troppfaculty members, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers. Tropp's award is for his research into "Compressive Signal Processing - Theory and Algorithms"; and Dabiri's award is for work in "Optimal Propulsion Methodologies for Hybrid Screw-based, Bio-inspired Systems". ONR announced 27 new awards for 2008. 03.17.08

Nathalie VriendMechanical engineering graduate student Nathalie Vriend has been selected to receive an Outstanding Student Paper Award for her presentation at the 2007 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. Her presentation, A Mystery Unraveled: Booming Sand Dunes was recognized as among the best of a strong group of student presenters. 03.17.08

Mechanical Engineering student Huaising (Cindy) Ko was named one of only 50 college seniors in the nation to receive a $25,000 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for a year of "purposeful exploration." Originally Ko chose to major in the biological sciences due to her interest in the field of medicine. However, at Caltech she discovered that the field of mechanical engineering fascinated her and allowed her to do interdisciplinary work related to her interests in medicine. As a Watson Fellow, Ko will be able to embark on another aspect of medicine that interests her: the tension between modern and traditional medicine. Read more... 03.17.08

Christopher Somerville, one of the world's leading authorities on converting plant cellulose to energy, will speak on March 18 at 8 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium. He will discuss the technical issues involved with the U.S. Secretary of Energy's call to replace 30 percent of the liquid fuels used in the U.S. with cellulosic biofuels by 2030. The event is free and open to the public. 03.14.08

Azita EmamiThe NSF has announced three NSF CAREER Awards to Caltech faculty so far this year; they have been awarded to: Azita Emami, Assistant Professor of Electrial Engineering, Julia Greer, Assistant Professor of Materials Science, and Julia Greer Beverley McKeon, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics. Emami's award is for her research on "Hybrid Data Communication in Advanced Integrated Systems"; Greer's awared is for "Experimental Investigation of Plasticity at Nano-scale via in-situ Mechanical Deformation"; and Beverley McKeonMcKeon's award is for her research on "Morphing Surfaces for Flow Control". The CAREER program offers NSF's most prestigious awards for junior faculty members. The level and 5-year duration of the awards are designed to enable awardees to develop careers as outstanding teacher-scholars. The minimum CAREER award is $400,000. 03.12.08

The famed ME 72 Contest was held on Tuesday, March 11. Teams of undergraduates competed to launch 50-gram payloads over a rope and then as far as possible across Caltech's North Athletic Field... and the winning team is: Team Savage Rabbit, composed of Jimmy Paulos and Matthew Feldman. Coming in second were Tim Curran and Kevin Watts. Congrats to all the participants! 03.11.08

On March 11, two Caltech mechanical-engineering alumni, Garrett Reisman (MS '92, PhD '97) and Robert Behnken (MS '93, PhD '97) lifted off on the Endeavor Space Shuttle as part of a seven-man team enroute to the International Space Station. The mission was directed from Houston by a third alumnus, Philip Engelauf (BS '78). 03.11.08

For the second year in a row, Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine has ranked Caltech as the best value among private universities in the United States. Go to Kiplinger online. 03.11.08

Michael OrtizA National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Center of Excellence will be established at Caltech, under the direction of Michael Ortiz, Dotty and Dick Hayman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. This center, PSAAP, one of five new centers to be established, will develop not only the science and engineering models and software for large-scale simulations, but also methods associated with the emerging disciplines of verification and validation and uncertainty quantification. The goal of these emerging disciplines is to enable scientists to make precise statements about the degree of confidence they have in their simulation-based predictions. The center will be funded for $17 million over a five-year period 03.10.08

imageCan we transform the industrialized world from one powered by fossil fuels to one that is powered by sunlight?
Watch Sossina Haile: Fuel to Electricity via Solid Electrolyte Fuel Cells. 03.10.08

Thank You Sputnik: Fifty Years in Space, a conference hosted by GALCIT, JPL, and Northrop Grumman, was held last September. Video of the presentations is avaialble. 03.10.08

imageChristopher Brennen, the Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, delivered the plenary opening lecture at the Twelfth International Symposium on Transport Phenomena and Dynamics of Rotating Machinery in February. After, he was awarded the organization's ISROMAC Award in recognition of "his outstanding research contributions in the area of cavitation and hydrodynamics in rotating machinery". 03.04.08

550 million years of jet-setting (and jet paddling): modes of imagejellyfish propulsion are finally being understood and used for engineering inspiration. Read the recent cover story in Science News that highlights
the work of Professor John Dabiri. 02.23.08

Caltech Trustee, Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., has given $1 million to Caltech in support of the imagefinal stages of construction of the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology. The Annenberg Foundation donated $25 million toward the construction of the building which will serve as home to participants of the IST initiative. Remarks Bechtel, "The collaborative opportunities provided by the Information Science and Technology initiative will support Caltech's effort to find solutions for many of our country's challenges," adds Bechtel. "I'm honored to be a partner in this effort." Read more... 02.20.08

Caltech is recognizing five alumni with its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award. This year, the recipients are Ray Feeney (BS '75, engineering), Alexis C. Livanos (BS '70, engineering, MS '73, engineering science, PhD '75, engineering science), William H. Press (MS '71, physics, PhD '73, physics), Arthur D. Riggs (PhD '66, biochemistry), and Warren G. Schlinger (BS '44, applied chemistry, MS '46, chemical engineering, PhD '49, chemical engineering). For details on their accomplishements, please click here. 02.14.08

Christof Koch, the Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology and Professor of Computation and Neural Systems, and his colleagues, have found that changes in pupil diameter correspond to the moment when a simple decision is made. The pupil, which is about 2 mm wide in bright light, dilated by as much as 1 mm at that moment--a change that, in theory, could be noticeable to a casual observer. Read more... 02.12.08

imageChanghuei Yang, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues, have invented a new technique, turbidity suppression by optical phase conjugation (TSOPC), that counteracts the scattering oflight and removes the distortion it creates in images, potentially allowing for light energy to be targeted to devices inside a human body. Read more... 01.28.08

Electrical engineering undergraduate student, Matthew Lew, has received the a Newport and Spectra-Physics Research Excellence Travel Award at the SPIE Photonics West Conference, held January 23, 2008 in San Jose. He won the award for his work on "Two-dimensional differential interference contrast microscopy based on four-hole variation of Young's interference" conducted in Changhuei Yang's Biophotonics Laboratory. This award is typically given to graduate students for outstanding research, Matthew Lew stands out in this year's batch of recipients as he is the only undergraduate to receive the prize. 01.23.08

The FCC's auction of the 700MHz spectrum, with reserve prices set at $10 billion, was designed by Caltech economics professor Jacob Goeree and economics professor Charles Holt from the University of Virginia. The system was tested and refined through a series of laboratory experiments in which more than 200 Caltech undergraduates participated over the course of two years. Currently, a few companies dominate the U.S. wireless market. This auction is the last chance for new entrants to create a national footprint. The 700 MHz frequency is particularly appealing for wireless - the signal can penetrate walls, and each tower broadcasting in this range can cover at least four times as many square miles as conventional cell-phone towers. Read more... 01.10.08

Silicon nanowires are laying the foundation for a new type of cheap yet energy-efficient microscopic refrigeration, with no moving parts. Read more... 01.10.08

Nanosystems Biology Cancer Center (NSBCC) underway as joint collaboration between Caltech, UCLA, and Crump Institute. Read more... 01.09.08

Steven LowSteven Low, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, has been elected a Fellow of the IEEE for his contributions in internet congestion control. 01.09.08

imageKerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Professor of Applied Physics, has been awarded the Humboldt Research Award in recognition of lifetime achievements in research. 01.09.08

imageJoseph E. Shepherd has been named the C. L. "Kelly" Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Shepherd is internationally recognized for his chosen specialities of combustion, fuel properties, and fluid dynamics relevant to explosion initiation and propagation. Congratulations! 01.09.08

imageMichael Ortiz, Dotty and Dick Hayman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has won the first Rodney Hill Prize in Solid Mechanics! Read more... 01.03.08

imageProfessor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering Sossina Haile, creator of the first solid-acid fuel cell, is profiled in Newsweek. Soild-acid fuel cells operation at much lower temperatures than conventional fuel cells. Early this year, the start-up company Superprotonic—founded by two of her former grad students—will ship the first commercial prototypes to energy-systems makers. Read more... 01.02.08

imageThe third edition of the book, Transmission Electron Miscroscopy and Diffractometry of Materials, by Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics, Brent Fultz, and James M. Howe has been published by Springer. 01.02.08


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