Molecular Programming Research Wins A Second $10 Million Award
Professor Erik Winfree and colleagues have won a second $10 million award for research in molecular programming. "Computer science gave us this idea that many tasks can actually be done with different types of devices," Winfree says. For example, a 19th-century cash register and a 21st-century computer can both be used to calculate sums, though they perform the same task very differently. At first glance, writing a computer program and programming a DNA molecule may seem like very different endeavors, but "each one provides a systematic way of implementing automated behaviors, and they are both based on similar principles of information technology," Winfree says. This Expeditions in Computing Award will be used to take their work in molecular programming to the next level: from proof-of-principle demonstrations to putting the technology in the hands of users in biology, chemistry, physics, and materials science. [Caltech Release]
Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues have created nanostructured, hollow ceramic scaffolds, and have found that the small building blocks, or unit cells, display remarkable strength and resistance to failure despite being more than 85 percent air. The general fabrication technique the researchers have developed could be used to produce lightweight, mechanically robust small-scale components such as batteries, interfaces, catalysts, and implantable biomedical devices. [Caltech Release]
Solar Decathlon 2013 Construction is Under Way
Last year a group of students in an engineering project course called Introduction to Multidisciplinary Systems Engineering, taught by Professor Melany Hunt, began planning for the Dynamic Augmented Living Environment (DALE), a joint SCI-Arc/Caltech entry in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition. This type of multidisciplinary and collaborative experience is important for Caltech students, notes Hunt. "Engineering students need experiences in which they design, create, build, and test," she says. "They also should have opportunities in which they work as part of a team. Most engineering projects require multiple perspectives with input coming from a range of individuals with different expertise and vision." [Caltech Release] [LA Times Article]
New Senior Director of Development for EAS
Phil Bonfiglio is the new Senior Director of Development for the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. Phil will provide overall direction for advancement in the EAS Division by providing leadership in fundraising to advance the mission and goals of the Division and the Institute. Phil comes to Caltech from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta as the Director of Development for the College of Sciences where he led the college advancement activities for seven academic schools and 30 research centers that housed over 220 faculty.