Pietro Perona Trains Computers to Analyze Fruit-Fly Behavior
Researchers led by Pietro Perona, the Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering, and David J. Anderson, the Roger W. Sperry Professor of Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, have trained computers to automatically analyze aggression and courtship in fruit flies, opening the way for researchers to perform large-scale, high-throughput screens for genes that control these innate behaviors. The program allows computers to examine half an hour of video footage of pairs of interacting flies in what is almost real time; characterizing the behavior of a new line of flies "by hand" might take a biologist more than 100 hours. "This is a coming-of-age moment in this field," says Perona. "By choosing among existing machine vision techniques, we were able to put together a system that is much more capable than anything that had been demonstrated before." This work is detailed in the April issue of Nature Methods. [Caltech Press Release]
Ali Hajimiri Awarded $6 Million to Develop Self-Healing Circuits
Over the past few decades, the transistors in computer chips have become progressively smaller and faster, allowing upwards of a billion individual transistors to be packed into a single circuit, thus shrinking the size of electronic devices. But these circuits have an intractable design flaw: if just a single transistor fails, the entire circuit also fails. One novel way around the problem is a so-called self-healing circuit. Such circuits are "inspired by biological systems that constantly heal themselves in the presence of random and intentional failures," says Caltech professor Ali Hajimiri.
Four EAS Alumni Named by Caltech as Distinguished Alumni
Four EAS alumni have garnered the highest honor the Institute bestows and been named Caltech Distinguished Alumni: David B. Kirk (MS '90 Computer Science, PhD '93 Computer Science); Robert J. Lang, (BS '82 Electrical Engineering, PhD '86 Applied Physics); François M. Morel (MS '68 Civil Engineering, PhD '72 Engineering Science) and David W. Thompson (MS '78 Aeronautics). Kudos to all! [Caltech Press Release]
25th Annual ME 72 Contest
Kevin Noertker and Marc Sellsof Team Newt N' Salamander won the 25th Annual ME 72 Contest which was held on Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Teams of two students each competed to design and build an amphibious craft that would crawl into and swim across Millikan pond, clean up floating debris, and crawl out at the opposite end, depositing its cargo at the top of the bridge. Marshall Grinstead and Edmond Wong of Team Ramen and Cheesesteaks won second place this year. Congratulations to all the participants! [NBC video coverage] [CBS video coverage]
Ares Rosakis Named Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science
Ares Rosakis, Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been named chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, effective May 1. After earning his BSc from University of Oxford and his ScM and PhD from Brown University, Rosakis joined the Caltech faculty in 1982. Since 2004, he has served as director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT). Provost Ed Stolper stated that "his remarkable breadth and the leadership skills he has shown as director of GALCIT have demonstrated the mix of interests, temperament, and skills required to lead the EAS division creatively and effectively as it addresses its needs, opportunities, and challenges in research and education."
EAS Remembers Thomas McGill
Thomas McGill, professor of applied physics, emeritus, passed away on March 19. An expert in nanostructures, he discovered how to stack silicon layers on chips in a way that could lead to significant new advances in silicon-based electronics. [Caltech Press Release]
Roseanna Zia and Anthony Roy are Winners in the Graduate Student Poster Session
Mechanical Engineering graduate student Roseanna Zia has won the overall best poster prize in the first campus-wide Graduate Student Poster Session sponsored by the Graduate Student Council (GSC). Her poster was titled "Single particle motion in colloids: force-induced diffusion." The other winner, Anthony Roy, also a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering, won in the interdisciplinary category with his poster titled "Genetic programming of an artificial neural network for robust control of a 2-D path following robot." Congratulations!