124th Commencement Ceremony
Caltech’s 124th commencement ceremony was held on Friday June 15, 2018. This year's speaker was John Lewis, U.S. congressman and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement who said Dr. King inspired him to "get into good trouble and necessary trouble." He instructed students to "study the way of peace, love, and non violence." Caltech celebrated the accomplishments of 579 graduates: 227 bachelor's degrees, 161 master's degrees, and 191 doctoral degrees.
Laser-sonic Scanner Aims to Replace Mammograms for Finding Breast Cancer
A laser-sonic scanner, which uses photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) developed by Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, can find tumors in as little as 15 seconds by shining pulses of light into the breast. The laser-sonic scanner provides a safer way for finding breast cancer compared to mammogram technology. Mammograms expose patients to X-ray radiation and requires their breasts to be painfully pressed between plates. Many women avoid having their mammograms taken as often as they should because of the discomfort involved. PACT can provide a clear view of structures as small as a quarter of a millimeter at a depth of 4 centimeters. Mammograms cannot provide soft-tissue contrast with the level of detail in PACT images. The PACT scan is quick, and a clearer image can be developed. [Caltech story]
Professor McKeon Receives Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching
Beverley J. McKeon, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics, is the recipient of the 2018 Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The Prize is awarded to an EAS professor who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching. A nomination for Professor Mckeon read, “she is a firm believer in the importance of having all students, regardless of their ultimate specialty, participate in laboratory coursework. Her courses serve as a solid foundation for graduate level research across disciplines, both technically and with regards to skills relevant to doctoral and industrial research. She takes tough subjects and uses her colorful approach to make the concept easy to comprehend.” [Caltech story]
Exact Optical Frequencies on Demand
Professor Kerry J. Vahala and colleagues have developed a prototype of a miniature device that synthesizes frequencies on demand with about 1 Hertz accuracy. It combines a frequency comb developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with a "fine-toothed" frequency comb developed at Caltech. To create the finely spaced comb teeth, the Caltech resonator must be about 100 times larger than the NIST device. Its larger size can potentially make this comb very power hungry. "Too much power in a small space can damage any electronics to which the resonator is connected," Professor Vahala says. "Also, in the future, these synthesizer devices could operate on battery power in smartphone-sized devices where they cannot draw much power." But the Caltech comb can generate specific frequencies with minimal amounts of power. [Caltech story]