News & Events

Headlines

EAS Remembers Roddam Narasimha

12-15-20

Caltech Distinguished Alumnus, Roddam Narasimha, passed away on December 14, 2020, at the age of 87. Dr. Narasimha received his Ph.D. (1961) in Aeronautics from Caltech. He was a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Science, and more recently, the Year-of-Science Chair Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. He was also a former director of the Indian National Aerospace Laboratories. Narasimha was a Clark B. Millikan Visiting Professor and a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at Caltech. He made outstanding and wide-ranging scientific contributions in fluid mechanics and aerodynamics, and was internationally known for his research in turbulence with applications in geophysical fluid dynamics and atmospheric sciences. Narasimha was a foreign member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the Royal Society. [Obituary]

Tags: EAS history alumni Roddam Narasimha

EAS Remembers Wilfred D. (Bill) Iwan

11-02-20

Wilfred D. (Bill) Iwan, Professor of Civil Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on October 29, 2020. He was 85 years old. Dr. Bill Iwan received all his degrees from Caltech, B.S. in 1957, M.S. in 1958, and Ph.D. in 1961. He joined the Caltech faculty in 1964 and became Professor Emeritus in 2004. He served as the Executive Officer for Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, 1980-86. Dr. Iwan’s research focused on fundamental areas of mechanics, understanding and characterization of strong earthquake ground motion, analysis and monitoring of the response of structural systems subjected to extreme events, and public policy regarding disasters. His research achievements include the development of methods to represent complex nonlinear structures with simpler linear systems, the development of practical methods for earthquake-resistant design, and the development of simplified methods for the analysis of seismic isolation systems for critical equipment. In 1979, he proposed an earthquake early-warning system for urban regions. Dr. Iwan was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1999 “for research on seismic performance of structures, and for leadership in earthquake hazard mitigation and improvement of public safety.” He was a Distinguished Member and Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which awarded him the Nathan M. Newmark Medal (1997), William H. Wisely Award (2006), and Theodore von Karman Medal (2013). In recognition of his distinguished service, the California Earthquake Safety Foundation awarded him the 2002 Alfred E. Alquist Medal “for his lifetime of service to the profession of structural engineering and its application to the safety of the people of California and the world". [Caltech story]

Tags: MCE EAS history alumni Wilfred Iwan

EAS Remembers James J. Morgan

09-21-20

James (Jim) J. Morgan, Marvin L. Goldberger Professor of Environmental Engineering Science, Emeritus, passed away on September 19, 2020. Dr. Jim Morgan came to Caltech in 1965 as Associate Professor of Environmental Health Engineering. After 35 years of distinguished service to the Institute, he became emeritus in 2000. He served as the Academic Officer for Environmental Engineering Science, 1971-72, Dean of Students, 1972-75, Executive Officer for Environmental Engineering Science, 1974-80 and 1993-96, Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, 1981-84, and Vice President for Student Affairs, 1980-89. Professor Morgan’s research was concerned with the chemistry and technology of water treatment, the scientific basis for establishing criteria and standards for water quality protection, and manganese in fresh and marine waters. He was renowned as a caring teacher and mentor to generations of students and scholars. His book on Aquatic Chemistry, which he co-authored with his advisor Werner Stumm, remains the standard reference on the subject (cited more than 25,000 times) and has become a worldwide classic. He received numerous awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Engineering and the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for Water Science and Technology from the National Water Research Institute. Jim Morgan and Werner Stumm were awarded the Stockholm Water Prize in 1999. [Caltech story]

Tags: EAS history ESE James Morgan

EAS Remembers Jakob van Zyl

08-27-20

Jakob van Zyl, Senior Faculty Associate in Electrical Engineering and Aerospace, passed away on August 26, 2020 at the age of 63. He came to Caltech in 1982 and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1983 and 1986, respectively. He joined JPL in 1986 and retired in 2019 as the Director of Solar System Exploration. He was world-renowned for his research in imaging radar polarimetry. He made pioneering contributions to the design and development of many synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, including SIR-C, SRTM, AIRSAR, TOPSAR, and GeoSAR. He held management roles at JPL including, Director for Astronomy and Physics (2006-2011), Associate Director of Project Formulation and Strategy (2011-2015), and Director of Solar System Exploration (2016-2019). He received many honors and awards, including an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in 2015 for his contributions to space missions, for being a good ambassador for Africa, and for inspiring young scientists and engineers in his home continent. Over the last two decades, he taught EE/Ae 157 Introduction to the Physics of Remote Sensing. He contributed in numerous ways to promote interactions between EAS and JPL.

Tags: EE GALCIT EAS history alumni Jakob van Zyl

EAS Remembers Allan Acosta

05-19-20

Allan Acosta, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, who spent 50 years at Caltech and helped launch the Institute's present day Mechanical Engineering option, passed away on May 18, 2020 at the age of 95. Allan joined the faculty in 1954 after having obtained his BS '45, MS '49, and PhD '52 degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Caltech. He collaborated with Chris Brennen on a project for NASA to eliminate the instability caused by a phenomenon known as "pogo oscillation" from the Space Shuttle design. Allan was a much-admired teacher and mentor who influenced many generations of students. He served as the Executive Officer of Mechanical Engineering from 1988 to 1993. He was the author of a popular textbook, Fluid Flow: A First Course in Fluid Mechanics, which he co-authored with Rolf Sabersky. Allan received numerous honors and awards, including election as a member of the National Academy of Engineering and as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. [Caltech story] [Allan Acosta Blog]

Tags: MCE EAS history Allan Acosta

EAS Remembers Donald S. Cohen

01-13-20

Donald S. Cohen, Charles Lee Powell Professor of Applied Mathematics, Emeritus, passed away on January 9, 2020, at the age of 85. Cohen was one of the first faculty members recruited for Caltech's newly formed applied mathematics program in 1965. He was named associate professor of applied mathematics in 1967 and earned tenure in 1971. His research covered a variety of topics, including early work in the theory of reaction-diffusion equations. His later research in nonlinear differential equations, pattern formation, stability, and bifurcations had a significant impact on mathematical biology and chemical engineering. Cohen was a popular teacher who received awards for undergraduate teaching excellence in 1979, 1987, and 1998; in 2000, he was awarded the Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. [Caltech story]

Tags: EAS history CMS Donald Cohen

EAS Remembers Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung

12-23-19

Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung passed away on December 15th, 2019, at the age of 100. Dr. Fung received his Ph.D. (1948) in Aeronautics from Caltech and served on the GALCIT faculty until 1966. He then joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego where he founded the Bioengineering program. He made ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of the mechanics of living tissues and is known as the father of Biomechanics. He was an elected member of all three branches of the National Academies: Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Fung received Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1994. Among his many honors, he was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2000. [Full obituary, UCSD]

Tags: EAS history alumni Yuan-Cheng Fung

Caltech Mourns Passing of Manuel "Manny" Soriaga

07-19-19

Manuel P. Soriaga, Research Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, passed away on July 17, 2019. As a principal investigator in Caltech's Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), Soriaga studied electrochemical reactions that make artificial photosynthesis possible. "Manny’s accomplishments as a surface scientist were peerless and of the highest quality, and he made essential and indispensable contributions to JCAP’s mission," says Professor Harry Atwater. "All who knew him well will also remember with fondness the warmth and humor that he brought to his work and life." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EAS history Harry Atwater JCAP Manuel Soriaga

Bob McEliece Passes Away

05-13-19

Robert J. McEliece (BS '64, PhD '67), Caltech alumnus and Allen E. Puckett Professor and Professor of Electrical Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on May 8, 2019 at the age of 76. "Bob McEliece was renowned for his contributions to a wide range of problems in information transmission and storage," said EAS Chair Ravichandran. "His contributions are drivers for numerous applications in modern communications. He was an outstanding researcher and a beloved and inspiring teacher, mentor, and colleague." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE EAS history alumni Robert McEliece

Looking Back on the Birth of the Information Age

05-29-18

Carver Mead, one of the fathers of modern computing, combines memoir and instruction in new video series. "My feeling is that these days, if it's not on the web, it doesn't exist," Professor Mead says of the decision to launch the new video channel. The video series is available for free on YouTube, and aims to provide a better understanding of the birth and evolution of modern computing, as told by one of its key participants and witnesses. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE EAS history CMS Carver Mead