News & Events


Thomas Vidick Named Simons Investigator


Thomas Vidick, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has been named a Simons Investigator by the Simons Foundation. The intent of the Simons Investigators in Mathematics, Physics, Astrophysics and Computer Science programs is to support outstanding theoretical scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions. Awardees are outstanding theoretical scientists who receive a stable base of research support from the foundation, enabling them to undertake the long-term study of fundamental questions. [Past Recipients]

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Jennifer Sun Receives Best Student Paper Award


Jennifer Sun, graduate student in Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has won Best Student Paper at CVPR 2021. The paper, titled "Task Programming: Learning Data Efficient Behavior Representations," studies how to use programmatic weak supervision to reduce the need for supervised labels.

Tags: honors CMS Jennifer Sun

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 research highlights 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

Harnessing Sound for Health: A Conversation with Tim Colonius


When a person develops a kidney stone or a gall stone—hard accumulations of minerals and other compounds created by the body—they can experience a great deal of pain and discomfort. Lithotripsy is the practice of breaking gall or kidney stones into small pieces within the body using shockwaves produced by a machine called a lithotripter. A new form of lithotripsy has been under development with the help of Tim Colonius, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Mechanical Engineering. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Tim Colonius

Desbrun Elected to ACM SIGGRAPH Academy


Mathieu Desbrun, Carl F Braun Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, was selected as a 2021 awardee for the ACM SIGGRAPH Academy. Professor Desbrun was selected for contributions to geometric processing and establishing the discrete differential geometry framework. The ACM SIGGRAPH Academy is an honorary group of individuals who have made substantial contributions to the field of computer graphics. These are principal leaders of the field, whose efforts have shaped the disciplines and/or industry, and led the research and/or innovation in computer graphics and interactive techniques. [Past recipients]

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Simon Toedtli Receives 2021 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award


Simon Toedtli, a graduate student working with Professor Beverley McKeon, is the recipient of the 2021 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award. His doctoral research combined direct numerical simulations and modal analyses to investigate the physics of closed-loop wall transpiration in a turbulent channel flow and to build low-order flow models for controller design. Both aspects contribute towards the development of drag-reducing control schemes for engineering applications, and will help make future transportation vessels more sustainable. Simon is continuing his studies in fluid mechanics as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, where he will work on data assimilation for turbulent flows. The Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award is given to an EAS graduate student in hydrodynamics who has distinguished himself or herself in research.

Tags: honors GALCIT Beverley McKeon Simon Toedtli

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

127th Commencement Ceremony


Caltech’s 127th commencement ceremony was held on Friday, June 11, 2021. The keynote speaker was Norman R. Augustine, a longtime leader in the aerospace industry and former head of Lockheed Martin. Speaking to the class of 2021 on the theme of "resilience," Augustine acknowledged the odd circumstances of this ceremony. "You will always receive special attention as a member of the class of 2021 that earned its degrees under the extraordinarily trying circumstances that surround a pandemic," he said. "Few classes before you have been called upon to summon the endurance, resilience, and grit that you have exhibited." The Institute honored graduates with 476 degrees: 227 bachelor's degrees, 104 master's degrees, 145 doctoral degrees; and celebrated 50 additional graduates whose advanced degrees (12 master's and 38 doctoral) were awarded by the Board of Trustees in October 2020. [Watch the Ceremony] [Caltech story]