2018 Caltech Distinguished Alumni
Caltech has recognized three Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) graduates with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor regularly bestowed by the Institute. Gary Demos (BS '71, Engineering and Applied Science), Gary A. Flandro (MS '60, PhD '67, Aeronautics), and Ronald H. Willens (BS '53 Physics, MS '54 Mechanical Engineering, PhD '61 Engineering Science). Demos was recognized “for his pioneering achievement in the development of computer-generated images (CGI) for use in motion pictures, and in digital film scanning and recording.” Flandro was recognized for “his seminal contributions to the design and engineering of multi-outer-planet missions, including the Grand Tour, the course set for the epic explorations of the Voyager spacecraft.” Willens was honored for “his innovative and revolutionary contributions to advanced internet connectivity and telecommunications. He pioneered the Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS) as an access server authentication and accounting protocol, which was adapted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards.” [Caltech story]
No Motor, No Battery, No Problem
Chiara Daraio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have developed robots capable of self-propulsion without using any motors, servos, or power supply. Instead, these first-of-their-kind devices paddle through water as the material they are constructed from deforms with temperature changes. "Combining simple motions together, we were able to embed programming into the material to carry out a sequence of complex behaviors," says Caltech postdoctoral scholar Osama R. Bilal, who is co-first author of the PNAS paper is titled "Harnessing bistability for directional propulsion of soft, untethered robots." [Caltech story]
Professor Ravichandran To Give 2018 Robert Henry Thurston Lecture
Guruswami (Ravi) Ravichandran, John E. Goode, Jr., Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering; Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science, has been selected to give the 2018 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Robert Henry Thurston Lecture at ASME Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition in November. He has been awarded this lectureship "for pioneering contributions to mechanics of materials, particularly dynamic deformation, damage and failure, micro/nano mechanics, wave propagation, composites, active materials, cell mechanics and experimental methods.” The lecture was established by the first ASME president to provide an opportunity for leaders in engineering to give a thought provoking lecture on a subject of broad interest to engineers.
Solving Pieces of the Genetic Puzzle
Postdoctoral scholar Nathan Belliveau working in the laboratory of Professor Rob Phillips has applied a method called Sort-Seq to mutate small pieces of noncoding regions in E. coli and determined which regions contain binding sites. Binding sites are the locations where specialized proteins that are involved in transcription—the first step in the process of gene expression—attach to DNA. "Humans have such a wide variety of cells—muscle cells, neurons, photoreceptors, blood cells, to name a few," says Professor Phillips. "They all have the same DNA, so how do they each turn out so differently? The answer lies in the fact that genes can be regulated—turned on or off, dialed up and dialed down—differently in different tissues. Until now, there have been no general principles to help us understand how this regulation was encoded." [Caltech story]