News & Events

Headlines

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]

Tags: EE CMS Pietro Perona CNS Markus Meister Tony Zhang Matthew Rosenberg

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]

Tags: research highlights MCE Jose Andrade Joe Parker Robert Buarque de Macedo Edward Andò Shilpa Joy Gioacchino Viggiani Raj Kumar Pal

Tim Colonius Receives APS Stanley Corrsin Award

08-12-21

Tim Colonius, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded the 2021 American Physical Society (APS) Stanley Corrsin Award. This Prize is intended to honor a recent achievement of especially high impact and significance, a particular discovery, or an innovation in the field. [Past Recipients]

Tags: honors MedE MCE Timothy Colonius

Material Inspired by Chain Mail Transforms from Flexible to Rigid on Command

08-12-21

Engineers at Caltech and JPL have developed a material inspired by chain mail that can transform from a foldable, fluid-like state into specific solid shapes under pressure. "We wanted to make materials that can change stiffness on command," says Chiara Daraio, G. Bradford Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics. "We'd like to create a fabric that goes from soft and foldable to rigid and load-bearing in a controllable way." To explore what materials would work best, Daraio, together with former Caltech postdoctoral researcher Yifan Wang and former Caltech graduate student Liuchi Li (PhD '19) as co-lead authors of the Nature paper, designed a number of configurations of linked particles, from linking rings to linking cubes to linking octahedrons (which resemble two pyramids connected at the base). The materials were 3-D printed out of polymers and even metals, with help from Douglas Hofmann, principal scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA. These configurations were then simulated in a computer with a model from the group of José E. Andrade, the George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering and Caltech's resident expert in the modeling of granular materials. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS Chiara Daraio MCE Jose Andrade KNI Yifan Wang Liuchi Li

Joseph Falson Named Moore Fellow

08-11-21

Joseph Falson, Assistant Professor of Materials Science, has been named as a 2021 Fellow in Materials Synthesis by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Falson's grant will enable him to pursue methods for growing highly pure crystals of new materials. He plans to build a custom piece of equipment with an ultra-high vacuum chamber corrosive materials that also offers access to the materials so that sensitive experiments may be conducted on them. "Broadly, the field is looking for fundamentally new types of materials that show some type of complex functionality," says Falson. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors KNI Joseph Falson

Professor Pellegrino Awarded Torroja Medal

08-09-21

Sergio Pellegrino, Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project, has been awarded the Torroja Medal from the International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS). The engraved medal represents the highest individual recognition given by the Association to members or nonmembers of the Association in recognition of outstanding and distinguished contributions to design, construction or research of shell and/or spatial structures. [Past recipients]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Sergio Pellegrino

Wei Gao Receives Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award

07-07-21

Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, has received the Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award (PCAA). The Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award is given annually to a researcher who has made a significant and independent impact in the area of analytical chemistry within the first ten years after his or her doctoral degree. [Past Recipients]

Tags: APhMS honors MedE KNI Wei Gao

Laura Lewis Wins Dual Computer Science Awards

06-30-21

Undergraduate student Laura Lewis, advised by Elena Mantovan, Professor of Mathematics; Claire Ralph, Lecturer in Computing and Mathematical Sciences; Director, Career Development Center; and Thomas Vidick, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has won both the qBraid Technical Challenge in the Quantum Coalition Hack and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) 2021 Collegiate Award. [Caltech story]

Tags: honors CMS Thomas Vidick Claire Ralph Laura Lewis Elena Mantovan

Thomas Vidick Named Simons Investigator

06-28-21

Thomas Vidick, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has been named a Simons Investigator by the Simons Foundation. The intent of the Simons Investigators in Mathematics, Physics, Astrophysics and Computer Science programs is to support outstanding theoretical scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions. Awardees are outstanding theoretical scientists who receive a stable base of research support from the foundation, enabling them to undertake the long-term study of fundamental questions. [Past Recipients]

Tags: honors CMS Thomas Vidick

Jennifer Sun Receives Best Student Paper Award

06-28-21

Jennifer Sun, graduate student in Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has won Best Student Paper at CVPR 2021. The paper, titled "Task Programming: Learning Data Efficient Behavior Representations," studies how to use programmatic weak supervision to reduce the need for supervised labels.

Tags: honors CMS Jennifer Sun