News & Events


EAS Remembers James J. Morgan


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]

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EAS Remembers Jakob van Zyl


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.

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EAS Remembers Allan Acosta


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]

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New Chip-Based Laser Gyroscope Measures Earth's Rotation


Optical gyroscopes are used in applications such as aircraft navigation systems, while MEMS gyroscopes are found in devices like smart phones. Professor Kerry J. Vahala has developed an optical gyroscope that combines some of the best characteristics of each into one device. "For more than 20 years, researchers have speculated about placing optical gyroscopes onto a chip very much like the highly successful MEMS gyroscopes. But until recently, there have been very few compelling experiments," Vahala says. [Caltech story]

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EAS Remembers Donald S. Cohen


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]

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EAS Remembers Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung


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]

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Techers Attend 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration


Caltech alumni and members of the Information Science and Technology (IST) Advisory Council brought forty Caltech students to the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration. The Grace Hopper Celebration is the world's largest gathering of women technologists.

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Caltech Mourns Passing of Manuel "Manny" Soriaga


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]

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Bob McEliece Passes Away


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]

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Looking Back on the Birth of the Information Age


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]

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