The Charles C. Gates Jr.–Franklin Thomas Laboratory, the newly renovated home of the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and the administrative offices for the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, was officially dedicated with an opening ceremony on Monday, June 1. The renovation includes the building's original iron railings as well as artistic etchings and imagery that reference prior research in earthquake engineering and hydrodynamics. Looking to the future, the energy-efficient, renovated building features state-of-the-art laboratories and experimental and computational facilities, along with open spaces where faculty, scholars, and students can share ideas across disciplines. [Caltech story]
Christopher Umans, Professor of Computer Science, has been named a Simons Investigator in Computer Science by the Simons Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences Division. The award honors and supports "outstanding scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions, providing leadership to the field and effectively mentoring junior scientists." Professor Umans’ research centers on algorithms and complexity. He has made contributions to the understanding of randomness in computation, and algorithms for fundamental algebraic problems which includes developing a group-theoretic approach for matrix multiplication. [List of awardees] [Caltech story]
Robert Braun, Caltech Moore Distinguished Scholar and Georgia Institute of Technology Professor of Space Technology, has received the American Astronautical Society (AAS) Space Technology Award "for extraordinary contributions in technology to enable the landing of vehicles on other planets, and for creating NASA technology development programs designed to build our nation’s future space capabilities and solve grand societal challenges on Earth.” When asked about the award, Dr. Braun remarked, “receiving this inaugural honor while a Moore Distinguished Scholar at Caltech will always be special to me.”
Hans G. Hornung, C. L. Kelly Johnson Professor of Aeronautics, Emeritus, has been selected to receive the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Award for 2015. The award recognizes sustained, outstanding contributions and achievements in the advancement of atmospheric, hypersonic flight and related technologies. Professor Hornung is receiving it “for lifelong contributions advancing the understanding of high-enthalpy hypervelocity flows and high-enthalpy ground-test experimental techniques.” [Past recipients]
Computing and Mathematical Sciences student Taokun (Xander) Zheng, mentored by Professors Alan Barr and Adam Wierman, is a recipient of the 2015 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Xander is working on a network project utilizing photographic media. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to the engineering student with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.
Electrical Engineering student Kuan-Chang Chen, working with Professor Azita Emami, is a recipient of the 2015 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Kuan-Chang is a member of the Caltech Mixed-mode Integrated Circuits and Systems Lab (MICS) and is researching analog and mixed-signal circuits and systems. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to the engineering student with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.
Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have created flat microlenses with performance on a par with conventional, curved lenses. Typically, lenses rely on a curved shape to bend and focus light. But in the tight spaces inside consumer electronics and fiber-optic systems, these rounded lenses can take up a lot of room. The Caltech team’s new flat lenses focus as much as 82 percent of infrared light passing through them. By comparison, previous studies have found that metallic flat lenses have efficiencies of only around a few percent. [Caltech story]
Professor Paul Wennberg and colleagues have developed a new technique to analyze plant productivity using data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite. To perform photosynthesis, the chlorophyll in leaves absorbs sunlight and a small fraction of the absorbed light is reemitted as near-infrared light. This reemitted light makes the plants appear to glow—a property called solar induced fluorescence (SIF). "The measurements of SIF from OCO-2 greatly extend the science of this mission", says Professor Wennberg. "OCO-2 was designed to map carbon dioxide, and scientists plan to use these measurements to determine the underlying sources and sinks of this important gas. The new SIF measurements will allow us to diagnose the efficiency of the plants—a key component of the sinks of carbon dioxide." [Caltech story]
Austin Minnich, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, has won a 2015 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award. The objectives of the Young Investigator Program are to attract to naval research outstanding new faculty members, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers. Professor Minnich’s award is for his proposal entitled, “Investigation of the Atomistic Mechanisms Governing Heat Conduction in Polymers.” [List of Recipients]
Caltech was the only education and research institution to receive a Supplier of the Year award from Boeing in a recent gala awards ceremony near the nation's capital. The awards recognized "exceptional performance and contributions to Boeing's overall success during 2014." Caltech Vice Provost for research Morteza Gharib stated, “dating back to the 1930s, through the founding of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the growth of the aerospace industry in Southern California, Caltech's collaboration with Boeing has led to some key advancements in aerospace design and technology." [Caltech story] [ENGenious article]