Niles A. Pierce, Professor of Applied & Computational Mathematics and Bioengineering, has been elected to the 74th Eastman Visiting Professorship at the University of Oxford. Professor Pierce is working to engineer molecular instruments capable of reading out and regulating the state of endogenous biological circuitry from within intact organisms. The Eastman Professorship is one of the world's most respected visiting professorships, bringing a distinguished American scholar to Oxford each year. It was established in 1929 from an endowment established by George Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. The Eastman Professorship has previously been held by four Caltech professors: Linus Pauling (1948), George Beadle (1958-59), J.F. Bonner (1963-64), and Harry Gray (1997-98).
José E. Andrade, Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, and colleagues have developed a new method that measures the way forces move through granular materials—one that could improve our understanding of everything from how soils bear the weight of buildings to what stresses are at work deep below the surface of the earth. [Caltech story]
Professors Dennis M. Kochmann and Chiara Daraio along with colleagues from Harvard have designed and created mechanical chains made of soft matter that can transmit signals across long distances. Because they are flexible, the circuits could be used in machines such as soft robots or lightweight aircraft constructed from pliable, nonmetallic materials. "Engineers tend to shy away from instability. "Though there are many applications, the fundamental principles that we explore are most exciting to me," Kochmann says. "These nonlinear systems show very similar behavior to materials at the atomic scale but these are difficult to access experimentally or computationally. Now we have built a simple macroscale analogue that mimics how they behave." [Caltech story]