News & Events


Professor McKeon Receives Diversity Award


Beverley J. McKeon, Professor of Aeronautics and the Associate Director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories, is the 2016 recipient of the Fred Shair Program Diversity Award. Each year the Caltech Center for Diversity asks students, staff, and faculty, to nominate Caltech community members who have contributed to initiatives and efforts that advance diversity. One of the nominations for Professor McKeon read, “she is a tireless advocate for diversity in all of its forms. She is very conscientious in her role as the GALCIT Option Representative – and really works to shine a light on unconscious bias in the selection process and stick to processes that highlight the best candidates according to a pre-specified set of criteria.  Professor McKeon effectively works both behind the scenes and in front of the camera carrying her message that diverse teams enable excellent results.”

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DNA Origami: Folded DNA as a Building Material for Molecular Devices


Paul Rothemund, Research Professor of Bioengineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Computation and Neural Systems, explains how his group and groups around the world are using DNA origami in applications ranging from potential cancer treatments to devices for computing. [Caltech interview]

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Thermo-Hydraulics of Nuclear Reactors


Christopher E. Brennen, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, has written a new book, Thermo-Hydraulics of Nuclear Reactors, that provides a concise and up-to-date summary of the essential thermo-hydraulic analyses and design principles of nuclear reactors for electricity generation. [Learn more]

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Professor Rosakis Elected to the National Academy of Sciences


Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). His research interests span a wide spectrum of length and time scales and range from the mechanics of earthquake seismology, to the physical processes involved in the catastrophic failure of aerospace materials, to the reliability of micro-electronic and opto-electronic structures and devices. The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare.[Caltech story] [List of NAS members]

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Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis


In a recent New York Times article Professor Harry A. Atwater, Jr. discussed the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP). He said, “The grand prize is figuring out how to make carbon dioxide be recyclable, a renewable resource. That would be a millennial advance for society.” JCAP was established in 2010 as a U.S. Department of Energy Energy Innovation Hub that aims to find new and effective ways to produce fuels using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. “You can rest assured that the energy and catalysis problems of humanity will not have been resolved five years from now,” Professor Atwater said in the interview. But there is growing interest in the work, particularly after the recently signed Paris climate treaty that calls for sharp emissions reductions to combat global warming. “We have some wind at our back that we haven’t had until recently,” he added. [New York Times article]

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Undergraduate Wins Hertz Fellowships


Applied Physics senior Paul Dieterle has been selected by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation to receive a 2016 Hertz Fellowships.  The fellows are chosen for their intellect, their ingenuity, and their potential to bring meaningful improvement to society.  At Caltech, Paul has worked and studied under the guidance of Engineering and Applied Science Professors Painter and Schwab. His research focuses on the physics of superconducting quantum circuits, photon-phonon interactions, and many-body interactions. In the long term, he says, he aims to "construct integrated quantum systems to explore both fundamental and application-oriented physics." [Caltech story]

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Caltech’s Smart Charging Network for Electrical Vehicles


Charging electric vehicles (EVs) can require a substantial amount of electricity (most EVs charge at 7 kilowatts, the equivalent of simultaneously running 70 desktop computers). Steven Low, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, has developed Caltech's adaptive charging network, which uses a smart algorithm to coordinate the charging schedule with the Institute's existing electrical infrastructure. This program helps minimize energy usage and about 30 percent of the electricity at each charging station is from carbon-free renewable sources. [Caltech story]

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Professor Phillips Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


Rob Phillips, Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology, has been elected to the 2016 American Academy of Arts and Sciences class of fellows. Founded in 1780, the academy aims to serve the nation by cultivating "every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." [List of 2016 fellows] [ENGenious article]

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Caltech Three Minute Thesis Competition


Caltech Library hosted its first Three Minute Thesis 3MT® competition on April 15, 2016. Applied Mechanics graduate student Utkarsh Mital, advised by Professor José E. Andrade, won the People’s Choice award and placed second in the competition for his three minute presentation on, “Understanding Fundamentals of Soil Liquefaction: A necessary step to make our cities resilient to liquefaction .” Kristin Antelman, Caltech University Librarian said: “communicating research to a general audience is now a key skill for researchers at all stages in their careers … We are thoroughly impressed by the quality of the submissions received which speaks to a vibrant research community here at Caltech.” [Caltech Library story] [Springer Nature release]

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Aliso Canyon, Methane, and Global Climate


The Aliso Canyon underground storage facility for natural gas in the San Fernando Valley—the fourth largest of its kind in the United States—had one of its wells blow out on October 23, 2015, leading to a large release of methane. In a recent conversation, Professor Paul Wennberg discusses enormous methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and their troubling implications for global climate. “If we could really knock the methane emissions back to what they were before people started emitting methane, it would be a large change. It would be a half a watt per meter squared. The total global warming would drop by around 25 percent,” Professor Wennberg explains. [Caltech story]

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