News & Events

Headlines

Paul Rothemund and Colleagues Use Self-Assembled DNA Scaffolding to Build Tiny Circuit Boards

08-18-09

Dr. Paul Rothemund, Senior Research Associate in Bioengineering, Computer Science, and Computation and Neural Systems, and colleagues have developed a new technique to orient and position self-assembled DNA shapes and patterns--or "DNA origami"--on surfaces that are compatible with today's semiconductor manufacturing equipment. They "have removed a key barrier to the improvement and advancement of computer chips. They accomplished this through the revolutionary approach of combining the building blocks for life with the building blocks for computing," said Professor Ares Rosakis, Chair of Division of Engineering and Applied Science and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights health CMS Paul Rothemund

Michael Hucka and Colleagues Help Launch the First Standard Graphical Notation for Biology

08-12-09

Dr. Michael Hucka, Senior Research Fellow in Control and Dynamical Systems and Co-Director of the Biological Network Modeling Center, and colleagues in 30 laboratories worldwide have released a new set of standards for graphically representing biological information—the biology equivalent of the circuit diagram in electronics. This visual language should make it easier to exchange complex information, so that biological models are depicted more accurately, consistently, and in a more readily understandable way. The new standard, is called the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN). "As biology focuses more on managing complexity with quantitative and systematic methods, standards such as SBGN play an essential role. SBGN combines an intuitive notation with the rigorous style of engineering and math," says John Doyle, the John G. Braun Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems, Bioengineering, and Electrical Engineering. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: health CMS Michael Hucka

Tapio Schneider and Colleagues Discover Storms in the Tropics of Titan

08-12-09

Tapio Schneider, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, and his colleagues have discover storms on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, which is generally "a very bland place, weatherwise," says Mike Brown, Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor and Professor of Planetary Astronomy. "The first cloud was seen near the tropics and was caused by a still-mysterious process, but it behaved almost like an explosion in the atmosphere, setting off waves that traveled around the planet, triggering their own clouds. Within days a huge cloud system had covered the south pole, and sporadic clouds were seen all the way up to the equator." Schneider, an expert on atmospheric circulations, was instrumental in helping to sort out the complicated chain of events that followed the initial outburst of cloud activity. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights ESE Tapio Schneider

Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology

08-12-09

The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology (IST), designed by the architectural firm Frederick Fisher and Partners, is near completion. The building which is nicknamed "the green building" will be home to some participants of the IST initiative, an interdisciplinary research and instruction program addressing the growth and impact of information as it relates to all science and engineering practices. The building dedication ceremony is scheduled for October 30, 2009 please visit the EAS division website for more information on the event. [Caltech Today Article]

Tags: CMS Caltech infrastructure

Paul Wennberg and John Seinfeld Show How Organic Carbon Compounds Emitted by Trees Affect Air Quality

08-06-09

Paul Wennberg, the R. Stanton Avery Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Science and Engineering and director of the Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science, and John Seinfeld, the Louis E. Nohl Professor and professor of chemical engineering, have shown that biogenic emissions—organic carbon compounds given off by plants and trees— affect air quality. Wennberg states that, "if you mix emissions from the city with emissions from plants, they interact to alter the chemistry of the atmosphere." Seinfeld adds, "particles in the atmosphere have been shown to impact human health, as they are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs of people. Also, aerosols impact Earth's climate through the scattering and absorption of solar radiation and through serving as the nuclei on which clouds form. So it is important to know where particles come from." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights health ESE Paul Wennberg John Seinfeld

Shang-Li and Betty Huang Create Endowment to Support Caltech Graduate Students

08-04-09

Shang-Li Huang (PhD '76 Mechanical Engineering) and his wife Betty have pledged $1 million to endow the Shang-Li and Betty Huang Endowed Graduate Fellowship Fund in Mechanical Engineering. "S.L. was my graduate student and did an outstanding PhD thesis back in the 1970s—a thesis whose results are still widely used in the rocket-engine design business," said Chris Brennen, the Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Caltech. "He and Betty are deeply interested in education—in particular, graduate education. They have been instrumental in rallying support for mechanical engineering at Caltech. We are most grateful for their generous help and advice." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: MCE

Chiara Daraio Selected to Participate in the STS Forum - Future Leaders Initiative

08-04-09

Chiara Daraio, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics, has been selected to participate in the 2009 Science & Technology in Society (STS) Forum - Future Leaders Initiative. Daraio will join nine other outstanding young scientists from Japan, England, Germany, Chile, Uruguay, Malawi, China and the United States to discuss the impact of their research on societal development. Daraio's research focuses on synthesizing and testing so-called "smart" materials that have a variety of potential applications, ranging from novel methods for sustainable engineering and nondestructive evaluation of civil and mechanical infrastructure (e.g., bridges, power plants) to new acoustic lenses for biomedical imaging and surgery.

The STS Forum is organized and sponsored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Guruswami Ravichandran, director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories and John E. Goode, Jr. Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, said, "I am delighted that Dr. Daraio will be representing GALCIT and Caltech at this internationally renowned, interdisciplinary, and cross-sectoral forum." "Dr. Daraio's selection to participate in this world forum is yet another indication of the importance and far reaching impact of the research conducted by the engineering and applied science faculty," said Professor Ares Rosakis, chair of Caltech's Division of Engineering and Applied Science and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering.

Tags: APhMS Chiara Daraio Guruswami Ravichandran

John Dabiri and Kakani Katija Link Tiny Sea Creatures to Large-scale Ocean Mixing

07-29-09

John Dabiri, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, and graduate student Kakani Katija have discovered a new mechanism that explains how some of the ocean's tiniest swimming animals can have a huge impact on large-scale ocean mixing. Dabiri describes, "we've been studying swimming animals for quite some time, the perspective we usually take is that of how the ocean—by its currents, temperature, and chemistry—is affecting the animals. But there have been increasing suggestions that the inverse is also important—how the animals themselves, via swimming, might impact the ocean environment." Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering and chair of the EAS Division described the research as, "truly reflective of the type of exciting, without-boundaries research at which Caltech engineering professors excel." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT John Dabiri

Michael Roukes and Akshay Naik Create First Nanoscale Mass Spectrometer

07-22-09

Michael L. Roukes, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering; Co-Director, Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and colleague Akshay Naik have created the first nanoscale mass spectrometer. This new technique simplifies and miniaturizes the measurement of the mass of molecules through the use of very tiny nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS) resonators. Askshay Naik explains, "the frequency at which the resonator vibrates is directly proportional to its mass. When a protein lands on the resonator, it causes a decrease in the frequency at which the resonator vibrates and the frequency shift is proportional to the mass of the protein." Professor Roukes points out, "the next generation of instrumentation for the life sciences must enable proteomic analysis with very high throughput. The potential power of our approach is that it is based on semiconductor microelectronics fabrication, which has allowed creation of perhaps mankind's most complex technology." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Michael Roukds Akshay Naik

Michael Elowitz and Avigdor Eldar Show How Evolution Can Allow for Large Developmental Leaps

07-20-09

Michael Elowitz, Associate Professor of Biology and Applied Physics; Bren Scholar, and Avigdor Eldar, Postdoctoral Scholar, show how evolution can allow for large developmental leaps. Most volutionary changes happen in tiny increments: an elephant grows a little larger, a giraffe's neck a little longer. Elowitz and Eldar's team have shown that such changes may at least sometimes be the result of noise, working alongside partial penetrance. Eldar, states "if you take a bunch of cells and grow them in exactly the same environment, they'll be identical twin brothers in terms of the genes they have, but they may still show substantial differences in their behavior." Elowitz adds that "noise—these random fluctuations of proteins in the cell—is not just a nuisance in this system; it's a key part of the process that allows genetically identical cells to do very different things." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS health Michael Elowitz Avigdor Eldar postdocs