News

2011

Rob PhillipsProfessors James (Jim) L. Beck, Sossina M. Haile, Melany L. Hunt, and Rob Phillips have received named chairs. Jim Beck has been named the George W. Housner Professor of Engineering and Applied Science. Sossina Haile has been named the Carl F Braun Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering. Melany Hunt has been named the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Rob Phillips has been named the Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology. 12.14.11


2011 Draper Prize Lecture - Directed Evolution
November 9, 2011, 4:00 p.m., 153 Noyes, Sturdivant Lecture Hall


Undergraduate students Zibo Chen, Shayan Doroudi, Yae Lim Lee, Gregory Izatt, and Sarah Wittman have won a gold award at the 2011 International Bio-Molecular Design Competition (BIOMOD). BIOMOD is a competition for undergraduate teams who design research to address the control of biomolecules on the nanometer scale. The Caltech team's challenge was to make a synthetic DNA robot that has the ability to take a random walk —instead of walking on set path or track—on a two-dimensional origami surface that was also made out of DNA. The team is mentored by Professor Eric Winfree and sponsored by the Molecular Programming Project. [Caltech Feature] [Video of Project] 11.21.11


Michael ElowitzMichael Elowitz, Professor of Biology and Bioengineering, has received a $2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) award from the Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation to study what happens to cell-to-cell communication and the circuits of interacting biomolecules that control differentiation and other normal cellular processes when cancer takes hold. [Caltech Feature] 11.16.11


Joel BurdickJoel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues are recipients of a 2011 Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics for their work that helped a paralyzed man stand. The Breakthrough Innovator Awards are in recognition of "innovators whose inventions will make the world smarter, safer, and more efficient in the years to come." [Popular Mechanics Article] [Caltech Feature] 10.12.11


Guoan ZhengElectrical engineering graduate student Guoan Zheng, working with Professor Changhuei Yang and Professor Michael Elowitz, has built a platform for a "smart" petri dish, dubbed ePetri. "Our ePetri dish is a compact, small, lens-free microscopy imaging platform. We can directly track the cell culture or bacteria culture within the incubator," explains Zheng, "the data from the ePetri dish automatically transfers to a computer outside the incubator by a cable connection... this technology can significantly streamline and improve cell culture experiments by cutting down on human labor and contamination risks." [Caltech Press Release] 10.05.11


Lulu QianLulu Qian, Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Bioengineering; Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering; and Jehoshua (Shuki) Bruck, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering, are the first to have made an artificial neural network out of DNA, creating a circuit of interacting molecules that can recall memories based on incomplete patterns, just as a brain can. [Caltech Press Release] 07.22.11


John DabiriField tests of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, and colleagues' vertical-axis wind turbines have shown that the power output of wind farms can be increased by an order of magnitude—at least tenfold— by optimizing the placement of turbines on a given plot of land. "Dabiri's bioinspired engineering research is challenging the status quo in wind-energy technology," says Ares Rosakis, Division Chair and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "This exemplifies how Caltech engineers' innovative approaches are tackling our society's greatest problems." [Caltech Press Release] [Videos of Turbines] 07.13.11


The student winners of the 2011 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at a special luncheon with the Demetriades - Tsafka – Kokkalis family. Fiona Chandra received the prize in Biotechnology for her work on glycolytic oscillations with John Doyle. Shelby Hutchens received the prize in Nanotechnology for her work on carbon nanotube foams with Julia Greer. Vivian Ferry recieved the prize in Entrepreneurship for her work on plasmonic photovoltaics with Harry Atwater. William Chueh received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources for his work on solar-driven thermochemical fuel production with Sossina Haile. Matthew Faulkner was the recipient of the newest Demetriades - Tsafka – Kokkalis prize in the area of Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection for his work with Andreas Krause on using accelerometers in cellphones for detecting shaking from earthquakes. 6.8.11


Lulu QianErik WinfreeLulu Qian, Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Bioengineering, and colleagues including Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering, have built the most complex biochemical circuit ever created from scratch, made with DNA-based devices in a test tube that are analogous to the electronic transistors on a computer chip."We're trying to borrow the ideas that have had huge success in the electronic world, such as abstract representations of computing operations, programming languages, and compilers, and apply them to the biomolecular world," says Dr. Qian. [Caltech Press Release] 6.2.11


Joel BurdickJoel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues including Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, have used a stimulating electrode array to assist a paralyzed man to stand, step on a treadmill with assistance, and, over time, to regain voluntary movements of his limbs. Using a combination of experimentation, computational models of the array and spinal cord, and machine-learning algorithms, Professor Burdick and his colleagues are now trying to optimize the stimulation pattern to achieve the best effects, and to improve the design of the electrode array. Further advances in the technology should lead to better control of the stepping and standing processes. [Caltech Press Release] 5.19.11


FullbrightPradeep Ramesh, a senior undergraduate student working with Rob Phillips, Professor of Biophysics and Biology, has received a Fulbright fellowship to work in an experimental Biophysics lab at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen under the guidance of Professor Lene B. Oddershede. He plans to study the collision and queuing of RNA polymerases during transcription using optical tweezers and atomic-force microscopes.

Pradeep has been working with Professor Phillips and graduate student Geoffrey Lovely since his Sophomore year at Caltech. While a Fulbright, in addition to the research he intends to explore jazz and early modern art for which Copenhagen is renowned. He has also been invited to spend a few weeks at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge studying theoretical biophysics. The purpose of the Fulbright fellowship program is "Fostering leadership, learning and empathy between cultures". 5.13.11


SCIACRebekah Kitto, undergraduate student in Bioengineering, has been named to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (SCIAC) First Team for women's tennis. She's the first techer to earn the honor in four years. [Caltech Feature] 4.26.11


Scott FraserFrances H. Arnold, Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, Scott E. Fraser, Anna L. Rosen Professor of Biology and Professor of Bioengineering, have been elected to the 2011 American Academy of Arts and Sciences class of fellows. They have joined an assembly that was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholars to provide practical solutions to pressing issues. [Caltech Press Feature] 4.19.11


NAEFrances Arnold, Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, is a co-recipient of the Charles Stark Draper Prize by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Arnold has recieved the Draper Prize, which is the highest honor in the engineering profession, for a method called directed evolution, used worldwide to guide the creation of certain properties in proteins and cells, allowing the engineering of novel enzymes and biocatalytic processes for pharmaceutical and chemical products. [Caltech Press Release] 1.6.11