News & Events


Nano-Architected Material Resists Impact Better Than Kevlar


Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, has developed a nano-architected material made from tiny carbon struts that is, pound for pound, more effective at stopping a projectile than Kevlar, a material commonly used in personal protective gear. "The knowledge from this work could provide design principles for ultra-lightweight impact resistant materials for use in efficient armor materials, protective coatings, and blast-resistant shields desirable in defense and space applications," says Greer. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS MedE MCE Julia Greer KNI

New Algorithm Helps Autonomous Vehicles Find Themselves, Summer or Winter


Without GPS, autonomous systems get lost easily. Now a new algorithm developed at Caltech allows autonomous systems to recognize where they are simply by looking at the terrain around them—and for the first time, the technology works regardless of seasonal changes to that terrain. The general process, known as visual terrain-relative navigation (VTRN), was first developed in the 1960s. By comparing nearby terrain to high-resolution satellite images, autonomous systems can locate themselves. The problem is that, in order for it to work, the current generation of VTRN requires that the terrain it is looking at closely matches the images in its database. To overcome this challenge, Anthony Fragoso, Lecturer in Aerospace; Staff Scientist, Connor Lee, Graduate student in Aerospace, Austin McCoy, Undergraduate, and Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems and research scientist at JPL, turned to deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to remove seasonal content that hinders current VTRN systems. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE CMS Soon-Jo Chung Anthony Fragoso Connor Lee Austin McCoy

Wierman and Low Win ACM SIGMETRICS Test of Time Award


Adam Wierman, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences; Director, Information Science and Technology, and Steven Low, Frank J. Gilloon Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Electrical Engineering, have received the SIGMETRICS Test of Time Award for their paper titled "Greening Geographical Load Balancing." The ACM SIGMETRICS Test of Time Award recognizes an influential performance evaluation paper whose impact is still felt 10-12 years after its initial publication. [Past winners]

Tags: EE honors CMS Adam Wierman Steven Low Minghong Lin Zhenhua Liu IST

Winners of the 2021 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced


The student winners of the 2021 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at the end of this academic year. David Brown, advised by Professor Viviana Gradinaru and Professor Matt Thomson has received the prize in Entrepreneurship. His research is in molecular and computational strategies for both understanding variability in the human immune system, and characterizing the on- and off-target profile of gene therapy delivery at the resolution of individual cells. Hsiao-Yi Chen, advised by Professor Marco Bernardi has received the prize in Nanotechnology. His research is in the development of ab initio methods to investigate exciton radiative emission and ultrafast dynamics. Tatyana Dobreva, advised by Professor Matt Thomson and Professor Viviana Gradinaru has received the prize in Entrepreneurship. Her research is in single-cell sequencing to interrogate the human immune system, characterize immune response to recombinant Adeno-Associated Viruses (AAVs), and engineer immune cells. Zachary Lee, advised by Professor Steven Low has received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources. His research involves developing a suite of tools and algorithms to enable smart electric vehicle charging at scale. Valère Lambert, advised by Professor Nadia Lapusta has received the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection. His research is in developing and using physics-based numerical models that combine laboratory insight and theoretical developments to simulate sequences of earthquake ruptures and slow slip that match field observations, thus illuminating physical properties of faults and building towards predictive modeling.

Tags: honors Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Nadia Lapusta Steven Low Marco Bernardi Viviana Gradinaru Valère Lambert Matt Thomson David Brown Hsiao-Yi Chen Tatyana Dobreva Zachary Lee

Winners of the 2021 New Horizons Award Announced


The student winners of the 2021 New Horizons Award were announced at the end of this academic year. Sara Beery was recognized for her passion, energy, and fearlessness to improve the CMS program by founding the Women in CMS group, organizing events and discussions on racism in academia, and advocating for the support structures that improve the educational experience for all CMS students. Abigail (Abby) Jiang was recognized for her commitment to enhance the campus environment through her leadership of the Caltech Asian Pacific Islander Desi American student association (APIDA+) and of PRISM, the Caltech LGBTQ+ association, and her advocacy for other campus diversity initiatives. Daniel Mukasa was recognized for his dedication and leadership of Black Scientists and Engineers of Caltech, which catalyzed campus engagement, reflection, and reform, and for his mentorship of undergraduates through the WAVE program. Alexander Choi, Leah Ginsburg, Marcus Lee and Victoria Lee, were recognized for their collective engagement and sustained dedication to improve the quality of life for MCE graduate students that culminated in the initiation of a seminar series, an option-wide climate survey, the appointment of a Diversity Liaison, the creation of a MCE community statement, and formation of, a campus-wide data base for DEI activities.

Tags: APhMS honors MCE CMS Sara Beery Abigail Jiang Daniel Mukasa Marcus Lee Victoria Lee Alexander Choi Leah Ginsburg

Recording Brain Activity with Laser Light


Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has demonstrated for the first time a new technology for imaging the human brain using laser light and ultrasonic sound waves. The technology, known as photoacoustic computerized tomography, or PACT, has been developed as a method for imaging tissues and organs. Now, Wang has made further improvements to the technology that make it so precise and sensitive that it can detect even minute changes in the amount of blood traveling through very tiny blood vessels as well as the oxygenation level of that blood. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Lihong Wang

Hrishika Basava Receives 2021 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Hrishika Basava, advised by Ali Hajimiri, Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project, is one of four recipients of the 2021 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Hrishika is interested in many different aspects of electrical engineering, and specifically applications in robotics and aerospace. She does research in inverse design techniques for nanophotonics with Ali Hajimiri. Hrishika has also worked on the Caltech Racing electrical team and has done research on the explosion mechanism of supernovae at the Carnegie Observatories. At Caltech, she has particularly enjoyed taking hands-on project classes, as well as being a teaching assistant in electrical engineering courses. This summer, Hrishika will be interning at Nuro, a robotics company working on a self-driving car. After graduating she plans to pursue higher education and eventually work in the technology industry. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: EE honors Henry Ford II Scholar Award Ali Hajimiri Hrishika Basava

EAS New Horizons Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award


The Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences seeks nominations to recognize and honor individuals within the EAS community who have actively contributed to EAS’s goal to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive engineering community. The award is available to members of the EAS community, including current students, postdoctoral scholars, staff, and faculty. Nominations are due Wednesday, May 19, 2021 and are accepted from anyone in the EAS community, EAS alumni and members of the Caltech community. Click here for full description of how to make a nomination.


JPL Designates Perseverance Rover’s Landing Site and Observation Point


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has designated the Perseverance rover’s landing site as the Octavia E. Butler Landing and the rover’s observation point to record Ingenuity helicopter tests as the Van Zyl Overlook. Jakob van Zyl (MS ’83; PhD ‘86) joined JPL in 1986 and stayed for 33 years in various positions, including director for Astronomy, Physics and Space Technology. He taught at Caltech, as a senior faculty associate in electrical engineering and aerospace, for two decades. The Ingenuity helicopter was one of his last projects at the JPL. Van Zyl retired from the JPL in 2019 and passed away unexpectedly in August 2020. Octavia Butler lived just miles away from JPL; she was a pioneering author and one of the first Black female science fiction authors. Butler was the first to write about prominent Black characters in science fiction settings, using dystopias, time travel and other tropes. She was awarded both the Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction author to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Butler passed away in 2006. [USA Today]

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Students Selected for NSF Graduate Research Fellowship


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected graduate students Komron Shayegan, Steven Bulfer, and Daniel Mukasa to receive Graduate Research Fellowships. The selection criteria used to identify NSF fellows reflect the potential of the applicant to advance knowledge and benefit society. Those selected for a fellowship will receive support for three years of graduate study in a research-based master's or doctoral program in science or engineering. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE honors alumni Komron Shayegan Steven Bulfer Skye Reese Noelle Unyoung Davis Daniel Mukasa