News & Events


Professor Umans Named Simons Investigator in Computer Science


Christopher Umans, Professor of Computer Science, has been named a Simons Investigator in Computer Science by the Simons Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences Division. The award honors and supports "outstanding scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions, providing leadership to the field and effectively mentoring junior scientists." Professor Umans’ research centers on algorithms and complexity. He has made contributions to the understanding of randomness in computation, and algorithms for fundamental algebraic problems which includes developing a group-theoretic approach for matrix multiplication. [List of awardees] [Caltech story]

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Moore Distinguished Scholar Receives Space Technology Award


Robert Braun, Caltech Moore Distinguished Scholar and Georgia Institute of Technology Professor of Space Technology, has received the American Astronautical Society (AAS) Space Technology Award "for extraordinary contributions in technology to enable the landing of vehicles on other planets, and for creating NASA technology development programs designed to build our nation’s future space capabilities and solve grand societal challenges on Earth.” When asked about the award, Dr. Braun remarked, “receiving this inaugural honor while a Moore Distinguished Scholar at Caltech will always be special to me.”

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Professor Hornung Receives 2015 AIAA Hypersonic Systems & Technologies Award


Hans G. Hornung, C. L. Kelly Johnson Professor of Aeronautics, Emeritus, has been selected to receive the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Award for 2015. The award recognizes sustained, outstanding contributions and achievements in the advancement of atmospheric, hypersonic flight and related technologies. Professor Hornung is receiving it “for lifelong contributions advancing the understanding of high-enthalpy hypervelocity flows and high-enthalpy ground-test experimental techniques.” [Past recipients]

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Taokun Zheng Receives 2015 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Computing and Mathematical Sciences student Taokun (Xander) Zheng, mentored by Professors Alan Barr and Adam Wierman, is a recipient of the 2015 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Xander is working on a network project utilizing photographic media. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to the engineering student with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

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Kuan-Chang Chen Receives 2015 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Electrical Engineering student Kuan-Chang Chen, working with Professor Azita Emami, is a recipient of the 2015 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Kuan-Chang is a member of the Caltech Mixed-mode Integrated Circuits and Systems Lab (MICS) and is researching analog and mixed-signal circuits and systems. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to the engineering student with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

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New Thin, Flat Lenses Focus Light as Sharply as Curved Lenses


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have created flat microlenses with performance on a par with conventional, curved lenses. Typically, lenses rely on a curved shape to bend and focus light. But in the tight spaces inside consumer electronics and fiber-optic systems, these rounded lenses can take up a lot of room. The Caltech team’s new flat lenses focus as much as 82 percent of infrared light passing through them. By comparison, previous studies have found that metallic flat lenses have efficiencies of only around a few percent. [Caltech story]

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Tracking Photosynthesis from Space


Professor Paul Wennberg and colleagues have developed a new technique to analyze plant productivity using data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite. To perform photosynthesis, the chlorophyll in leaves absorbs sunlight and a small fraction of the absorbed light is reemitted as near-infrared light. This reemitted light makes the plants appear to glow—a property called solar induced fluorescence (SIF). "The measurements of SIF from OCO-2 greatly extend the science of this mission", says Professor Wennberg. "OCO-2 was designed to map carbon dioxide, and scientists plan to use these measurements to determine the underlying sources and sinks of this important gas. The new SIF measurements will allow us to diagnose the efficiency of the plants—a key component of the sinks of carbon dioxide." [Caltech story]

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Professor Minnich Receives Young Investigator Award


Austin Minnich, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, has won a 2015 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award. The objectives of the Young Investigator Program are to attract to naval research outstanding new faculty members, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers. Professor Minnich’s award is for his proposal entitled, “Investigation of the Atomistic Mechanisms Governing Heat Conduction in Polymers.” [List of Recipients]

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Boeing Honors Caltech for Exceptional Performance


Caltech was the only education and research institution to receive a Supplier of the Year award from Boeing in a recent gala awards ceremony near the nation's capital. The awards recognized "exceptional performance and contributions to Boeing's overall success during 2014."  Caltech Vice Provost for research Morteza Gharib stated, “dating back to the 1930s, through the founding of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the growth of the aerospace industry in Southern California, Caltech's collaboration with Boeing has led to some key advancements in aerospace design and technology." [Caltech story] [ENGenious article]

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Space Solar Power Initiative


Caltech and Northrop Grumman Corporation have signed a $17.5 million sponsored research agreement for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). The initiative will develop technologies in three areas: high-efficiency ultralight photovoltaics; ultralight deployable space structures; and phased array and power transmission. "The Space Solar Power Initiative brings together electrical engineers, applied physicists, and aerospace engineers in the type of profound interdisciplinary collaboration that is seamlessly enhanced at a small place like Caltech... We are working on extremely difficult problems that could eventually provide the world with new, and very cost-competitive technology for sustainable energy,” said EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech story] [Northrop Grumman Release]

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