123rd Commencement Ceremony
Caltech’s 123rd commencement ceremony was held on Friday June 16, 2017. The commencement speaker was Mae Jemison, an engineer, physician, and NASA astronaut. Looking up, she said, allows us to remember that there is more that connects us than divides us. "Connection to the greater universe is something I hope for you throughout your lives. Never forget to look up and keep the bigger picture in mind. Look up at the sky, the moon, the stars when you need to recharge. Let the gravity of Earth give you a warm hug when you're feeling low. Look up to remember what inspires you. Keep the sparkle in your eyes, keep it long past graduation." [Caltech story]
"Hot" Electrons Move Faster Than Expected
For the first time, Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have been able to directly observe the ultrafast motion of electrons immediately after they are excited with a laser—and found that these electrons diffuse into their surroundings much faster and farther than previously expected. "Our work shows the existence of a fast transient that lasts for a few hundred picoseconds, during which electrons move much faster than their room-temperature speed, implying that they can cover longer distances in a given time when manipulated with lasers," says Professor Bernardi. "This non-equilibrium behavior could be employed in novel electronic, optoelectronic, and renewable energy devices, as well as to uncover new fundamental physics." [Caltech story]
Professor McKeon Receives GSC Mentoring Award
The Caltech Graduate Student Council (GSC) has selected Professor Beverley McKeon as the recipient of the 2016-2017, GSC Mentoring Award. The GSC Teaching and Mentoring Awards recognize individuals “who have an extraordinary impact on Caltech graduate students through their roles as teachers and mentors.” Nominations submitted by graduate students, both within and outside of GALCIT, described her commitment as a mentor. The nominations highlighted her attentiveness, inclusivity, and great support for students.
A Quantitative Study of Living Matter
Rob Phillips, Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology, has reinvents the Caltech freshman biology course. "I believe the most fascinating subject of our time is the quantitative study of living matter, trying to understand the living part of the world with the same precision as we have understood the inorganic world," he says. "Many students think of biology as a subject that is all about a variety of facts. I reject this viewpoint and in teaching this class I aimed to find an alternative to the 'death by powerpoint' approach." [Caltech story]
Winners of the 2017 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced
The student winners of the 2017 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes have been announced. Manuel Alejandro Monge Osorio received the prize in Biotechnology for his work with Professor Azita Emami which involves developing novel techniques for the miniaturization of implantable medical electronics in two important pillars: localization of medical devices and electrical stimulation. Pinaky Bhattacharyya was the recipient of the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection for his work with Professor Jim Beck investigating an information-theoretic approach to the problem of the optimal sensor placement for Bayesian system identification of structures using response time-history data. Bryan M. Hunter, working with Professor Harry Gray, received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources for his work on the development and characterization of a nickel-iron layered double hydroxide water oxidation catalyst with the goal of developing a solar-driven device for the synthesis of fuels, with hydrogen production as a target. The winner of the prize in Nanotechnology was Anupama Thubagere Jagadeesh whose research interests are focused on understanding the engineering principles behind designing and synthesizing programmable molecular machines.. Anupama’s graduate advisor was Professor Lulu Qian. The prize in Entrepreneurship was given to Ken Y. Chan who was advised by Professor Viviana Gradinaru. His research interests lie in developing tissue clearing technologies to render whole organs transparent for optical investigation..
Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes
Manuel Alejandro Monge Osorio
Anupama Thubagere Jagadeesh
SpaceX President Delivers 2017 Wouk Lecture
A standing room only crowd packed into the Hameetman Auditorium at Caltech to hear Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of SpaceX deliver the 2017 Victor Wouk Lecture, outlining SpaceX's planned path to a human settlement on Mars. "A private company has the flexibility to do things the way we want to do it. ... But frankly, I think without a lot of the experience from the Apollo and Shuttle days, we wouldn't be doing what we're doing today," she said, noting that NASA, while a SpaceX customer, was the company's partner during the development of the Dragon spacecraft, a reusable spacecraft that SpaceX uses to transport cargo to the International Space Station. "We were standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before us." The Wouk lectureship was established by the Engineering and Applied Science Division to bring experts on the latest advances in science and technology to Caltech. Victor Wouk devoted himself largely to developing hybrid motor vehicles and using semiconductors in electric vehicles. Wouk's interest in space travel began as a child, and as an adult, he ended up working with the team that developed fuel gauges for the "dune buggies" that roamed the surface of the moon during the Apollo program. [Caltech story]