News & Events


Wouk Lecture Given by Jorg Imberger


The Wouk Lecture, Life in a Changing Climate, was given by Jorg Imberger at 8 pm on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 in Beckman Auditorium. Synthsizing anthropological, cultural, and religious history with biological observations and the data on climate change, Imberger ruminates on the coming "50-year global experiment where we are both the observers and the subjects and for which we have neither a hypothesis nor an objective." Jorg Imberger is the Director at the Centre for Water Research and Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Western Australia. The lecture is free and open to the public.

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Michael Elowitz, Long Cai, and Chiraj Dalal Find Cells Coordinate Gene Activity with FM Bursts


How a cell achieves the coordinated control of a number of genes at the same time, a process that's necessary for it to regulate its own behavior and development, has long puzzled scientists. Michael Elowitz, assistant professor of biology and applied physics, along with postdoctoral research scholar Long Cai, and graduate student Chiraj Dalal, have discovered a surprising answer. Just as human engineers control devices ranging from dimmer switches to retrorockets using pulsed--or frequency modulated (FM)--signals, cells tune the expression of groups of genes using discrete bursts of activation. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights health Michael Elowitz

John Dabiri Named One of "Brilliant Ten" by Popular Science Magazine


John Dabiri, assistant professor of aeronautics and bioengineering, has been named one of "Brilliant Ten" by Popular Science Magazine. Dabiri is the youngest scientist on the list at just 28 years of age. Dubbed "the jellyfish engineer" by the magazine, he garnered the award for his studies of the intricacies of jellyfish locomotion. Using a custom-built, high-definition video camera and a water-particle-illuminating laser, Dabiri and his colleagues are able to examine the fluid dynamics that determine how jellyfish propel themselves through their watery environment. Their hope is that those insights will be used to improve the designs of nonbiological systems as diverse as military submarines and onshore windmills. [Popular Science Article]

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Kerry Vahala Wins Alexander Von Humboldt Research Award


Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Professor of Applied Physics, has won an Alexander Von Humboldt Research Award. The Humboldt award recognizes academics whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements. Vahala has also been awarded and the IEEE David Sarnoff Award for exceptional contributions to electronics, and in particular, "for seminal contributions to improved dynamics of quantum well semiconductor lasers."

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Paul Bellan Gives Explanation for a Strange Property of Night-shining Clouds


An explanation for a strange property of night-shining clouds has been proposed by Paul Bellan, Professor of Applied Physics. Noctilucent clouds - thin, wispy electric blue clouds clouds hovering at 85 km altitude - are highly reflective to radar. Ice grains in noctilucent clouds are coated with a thin film of metal, made of sodium and iron. The metal film causes radar waves to reflect off ripples in the cloud in a manner analogous to how x-rays reflect from a crystal lattice. [Caltech Press Release]

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NSF Awards Sossina Haile ACI Fellowship


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded an American Competitiveness and Innovation (ACI) Fellowship to Sossina M. Haile, Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, "for her timely and transformative research in the energy field and her dedication to inclusive mentoring, education and outreach across many levels." This recognition program honors current NSF grantees who have demonstrated a combination of transformative research accomplishments and outstanding contributions toward education, mentoring, and broadening participation of women, underrepresented minorities, and people with disabilities.

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Alexei Kitaev Named a MacArthur Fellow


Alexei Kitaev, Professor of Theoretical Physics and Computer Science, has been named a MacArthur Fellow, winning one of the five-year, $500,000 grants that are awarded annually to creative, original individuals and that are often referred to as the "genius" awards. Kitaev explores the mysterious behavior of quantum systems and their implications for developing practical applications, such as quantum computers. He has made important theoretical contributions to a wide array of topics within condensed-matter physics, including quasicrystals and quantum chaos. [Caltech Press Release]

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European Association of Structural Dynamics (EASD) Awards Senior Research Prize to James Beck


The European Association of Structural Dynamics (EASD) has awarded the 2008 EASD Senior Research Prize in the area of computational structural mechanics to James Beck, Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, for his outstanding novel contributions to computational procedures in assessing uncertainty propagation and reliability of large structural systems under dynamic excitation.

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Michael Dickinson and Gwyneth Card Determine the Secret to a Fly's Evasive Maneuvering


Michael Dickinson, Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, and graduate student Gwyneth Card have determined the secret to a fly's evasive maneuvering using high-resolution, high-speed digital imaging of fruit flies faced with that looming swatter. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights Michael Dickinson

Peng Yin Creates DNA Tubes with Programmable Sizes for Nanoscale Manufacturing


Peng Yin, a senior postdoctoral scholar in bioengineering and computer science at IST Center for Biological Circuit Design, along with his colleagues, has designed a series of flexible, single-stranded DNA molecules for nanoscale manufacturing. The group has developed a simple process for mass producing these molecular tubes of identical, and precisely programmable, circumferences. [Caltech Press Release]

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