News & Events


Creature-Cataloging Contest for Computers


Caltech and Cornell teamed up to create the iNaturalist Challenge, a competition to create the best machine-learning algorithm for identifying the world's plant and animal species. The contest was an outgrowth of the institutions' previous work together on Visipedia, a visual encyclopedia created by a network of people and machine-learning computers that harvest image information off the internet. The technology was developed for the encyclopedia by Pietro Perona's Vision Group at Caltech and Serge Belongie's Computer Vision Group at Cornell Tech. [Caltech story]

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Bergles-Rohsenow Young Investigator Award


Austin Minnich, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, is a recipient of the Bergles-Rohsenow Young Investigator Award in Heat Transfer from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The award recognizes an engineer who is under 36 years of age and is committed to pursuing research in heat transfer, and has demonstrated the potential to make significant contributions to the field.

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Professor Rosakis Elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union


Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). This honor is given to individual AGU members who have made exceptional scientific contributions and gained prominence in their respective fields of Earth and space sciences. [AGU release]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis

Professor Minnich Receives IPPA Junior Prize


Austin Minnich, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, is a recipient of the International Photothermal and Photoacoustics Association (IPPA) Junior Prize. He received the prize for outstanding contributions to the understanding of quasiballistic thermal transport, including the development of photothermal methods to directly probe heat conduction at length scales comparable to phonon mean free paths; for demonstrating how microscopic transport properties of thermal phonons in solids may be obtained using photothermal experimental methods along with ab-initio calculations; and for advances in the mathematical treatment of quasiballistic transport using the Boltzmann equation.

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Neural Networks Model Audience Reactions to Movies


Yisong Yue, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and colleagues have created a new deep-learning software capable of assessing complex audience reactions to movies using the viewer's facial expressions. "Understanding human behavior is fundamental to developing AI [artificial intelligence] systems that exhibit greater behavioral and social intelligence. For example, developing AI systems to assist in monitoring and caring for the elderly relies on being able to pick up cues from their body language. After all, people don't always explicitly say that they are unhappy or have some problem," Professor Yue says. [Caltech story]

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Professor Rosakis Named ICF Honorary Fellow and Vice President


Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been named an honorary fellow of the International Congress on Fracture (ICF) which is the premier international body for promotion of worldwide cooperation among scientists and engineers concerned with the mechanics and mechanisms of fracture, fatigue, and strength of solids. He has also been elected as one of the group's three vice presidents.

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis

Holographic Imaging Could Be Used to Detect Signs of Life in Space


Jay Nadeau, Research Professor of Medical Engineering and Aerospace, and colleagues are exploring ways to sample and identify living microbes in the outer solar system. Her proposal is to use new microscopes on spacecraft that could visit the icy moons of Enceladus (Saturn) and Europa (Jupiter) and to collect and search water samples for life. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT Jay Nadeau

Reflective Nanostructures


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have discovered how to use computer-chip manufacturing technologies to create the kind of reflective materials that make safety vests, running shoes, and road signs appear shiny in the dark. The new technology uses surfaces covered by a metamaterial consisting of millions of silicon pillars, each only a few hundred nanometers tall. By adjusting the size of the pillars and the spacing between them, Faraon can manipulate how the surface reflects, refracts, or transmits light. [Caltech story]

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Grad Student Makes Ultra-Sensitive Measurement of Deformation


Xiaoyue Ni, a materials science graduate student working with Professor Julia Greer, has shown that metals undergo permanent deformation even prior to yielding—the threshold at which a material under strain becomes permanently deformed. "What Xiaoyue's data are showing is that from the first moment you start deforming it, the dislocations start being active," Greer says. Now that we know how to do this, we can probe a variety of different classes of materials. [Caltech story]

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Capturing Clouds


Professor Tapio Schneider has helped bring artist Karen LaMonte's cloudy vision to life. "I thought it was a great idea," says Schneider, whose work focuses on reducing uncertainties in climate change projections—in part through modeling cloud formation to better understand clouds' impact on the environment. Collaborating with LaMonte, he reasoned, could help raise awareness of these issues. "Clouds are hugely important for the climate," says Schneider. "How much warmer it will get depends on what happens to cumulus clouds like those Karen was interested in. " [SoCaltech story]

Tags: research highlights ESE Tapio Schneider Karen LaMonte