Working at the leading edges of fundamental science to invent the technologies of the future.

Spotlight

News

Dabiri Appointed to President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

09-22-21

President Joe Biden has announced the appointment of John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Presidents have established advisory committees of scientists, engineers, and health professionals ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt created his Science Advisory Board in 1933. "We're here to provide whatever input the president needs," Dabiri says. "My understanding is that we'll be meeting pretty frequently, as the president wants science to be a big part of his decision-making process." [Caltech story]

Mice Can Learn Much Faster than Previously Thought

09-01-21

Researchers have now conducted a study in which they measured how mice navigate a complicated labyrinth, suggesting a new framework with which to study complex animal behaviors and learning. The mice rapidly learned how to navigate this unfamiliar environment about 1,000 times faster than mice generally learn simple yet unnatural tasks. The research is a collaboration between the laboratories of Markus Meister, Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences, and Pietro Perona, Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering. [Caltech story]

The Science of Underground Kingdoms

08-24-21

A team led by the laboratory of Jose Andrade, George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Cecil and Sally Drinkward Leadership Chair, Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, studied the digging habits of ants and uncovered the mechanisms guiding them. Before beginning this research, Andrade had a big question he wanted to answer: Do ants "know" how to dig tunnels, or are they just blindly digging? "I got inspired by these exhumed ant nests where they pour plastic or molten metal into them and you see these vast tunnel systems that are incredibly impressive," Andrade says. He enlisted the help of Joe Parker, Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, whose research focuses on ants and their ecological relationships with other species. "What Jose and his team needed was somebody who works with ants and understands the adaptive, collective behaviors of these social insects to give them some context for what they were doing," Parker says. [Caltech story]