News

2013

Nikki Peck, a second year Bioengineering grad student, with Zhan Jane Wang, a Postdoctoral Scholar in Chemical Engineering, was awarded the Grand Prize in Sustainability at the second annual SISCA Awards Ceremony held November 8, 2013 at Caltech's Resnick Institute. Ms. Peck received the award for her work in biocatalysis. [Press Release] 11.12.13


Lulu QianLulu Qian, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, performs research in the field of molecular programming because it allows her to design synthetic molecular systems with neural-network-like behaviors and tiny robots, both from the programmed interactions of DNA molecules. [Interview with Professor Qian] 10.23.13



Viviana GradinaruElaine HsiaoViviana Gradinaru and Elaine Hsiao have received Director's Awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) High Risk-High Reward research program. The awards, funded by the NIH Common Fund, are intended to support scientists proposing highly innovative approaches to major contemporary challenges in biomedical research. [Caltech Press Release] 10.9.13


image The National Science Foundation's Expeditions in Computing program has awarded $10 million for research into "Molecular Programming Architectures, Abstractions, Algorithms, and Applications." Researchers are exploring how biologically important molecules—like DNA, RNA, and proteins—could be the next generation of programmable devices. Erik Winfree leads the collaboration of researchers at the California Institute of Technology, the University of Washington, Harvard University, and the University of California San Francisco to establish a fundamental approach to the design of complex molecular and chemical systems based on the principles of computer science. [Caltech Press Release] 9.17.13


John DabiriJohn O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, has been selected by the editors of MIT Technology Review as one of this year's Innovators Under 35. He joins a group of exceptionally talented young innovators whose work is believed to have the greatest potential to transform the world. Professor Dabiri was chosen for his bioinspired engineering work on wind farms. [MIT Technology Review Article] 8.21.13


Frances Arnold Now in its sixth year of exploring the intersection between biology and engineering, the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center has chosen Caltech professor Frances Arnold as its new director. Arnold, the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry began her tenure as director on June 1. "Bioengineering is an incredibly exciting field right now," Arnold says. "Solutions to some of the biggest problems in science, medicine, and sustainability will come from the interface between biology and engineering, and Caltech is well positioned to be at the forefront. The Rosen Center will help make that happen with innovative programs for bioengineering research and education." [Caltech Press Release] 8.8.13


Changhuei YangChanghuei Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues have shown how to make cost-effective, ultra-high-performance microscopes. The final images produced by their new system contain 100 times more information than those produced by conventional microscope platforms. And building upon a conventional microscope, their new system costs only about $200 to implement. This new method could have wide applications not only in digital pathology but also in everything from hematology to wafer inspection to forensic photography. [Caltech Press Release] 7.29.13


Caltech researchers find a key in cell-cycle duration—a secret to making macrophages—having worked out the details of a mechanism that leads undifferentiated blood stem cells to become macrophages—immune cells that attack bacteria and other foreign pathogens. The finding provides new insight into how stem cells are guided to generate one cell type as opposed to another. "Our results explain how blood stem cells and related progenitor cells can differentiate into macrophages and slow down their cell cycle, coordinating these two processes at the same time," says lead author Hao Yuan Kueh, a postdoctoral scholar working with biologists Michael Elowitz and Ellen Rothenberg, principal investigators on the study. "We are excited about this because it means other systems could also use this mechanism to coordinate cell proliferation with differentiation." [Caltech Press Release] 7.18.13


Michael Roukes The French Republic honored Michael Roukes, Robert M. Abbey Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering at Caltech, with the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knight of the Order of Academic Palms). Roukes, who came to Caltech in 1992, is an expert in the field of quantum measurement and applied biotechnology. He was the founding director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute at Caltech from 2004–2006 and codirector from 2008 to 2013. He has led numerous cross-disciplinary collaborations at Caltech and with researchers from other institutions that explore the frontiers of nanoscience. In 2010, Roukes received the Director's Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health for his work developing nanoscale tools for use in medical research. [Caltech Press Release] 6.28.13


John DabiriJohn O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, has big plans for a high school in San Pedro, military bases in California, and a small village on Bristol Bay, Alaska. "We have been able to demonstrate that using wind turbines that are 30 feet tall, as opposed to 300 feet tall, could generate sufficient power for wind-farm applications," Dabiri says. "One of the areas where these smaller turbines can have an immediate impact is in the military." The Office of Naval Research is funding a three-year project by Dabiri's group to test the smaller vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) and to further develop software tools to determine their optimal placement. "We believe that these smaller turbines provide the opportunity to generate renewable power while being complementary to the ongoing activities at the base," Dabiri explains. [Caltech Press Release] 6.10.13


Catherine Bingchan XieCaltech senior wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Catherine Bingchan Xie, a senior bioengineering major and English minor at Caltech, has been selected to receive a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which will fund her graduate studies next year. Xie says her ultimate goal in life "is to be able to not only improve our understanding of disease mechanisms, but also to be able to use that understanding to create novel, innovative therapies in order to help people battle their diseases." "Catherine is a student with broad interests, an engaging personal style, and great effectiveness," says David Baltimore, the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology. "She has been a pleasure to have in the laboratory, and I am not surprised that she has won this prestigious scholarship and chosen to broaden her knowledge by focusing on public health issues while she is at Cambridge." Her research in the Baltimore lab focuses on microRNAs and the regulatory role they play in the development of leukemia. [Caltech Press Release] 4.19.13


Yu-Chong TaiYu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues have developed a portable device to count white blood cells that needs less than a pinprick's worth of blood and takes just minutes to run. "The white blood cell counts from our new system closely match the results from tests conducted in hospitals and other central clinical settings," says Professor Tai "This could make point-of-care testing possible for the first time." [Caltech Press Release] 3.26.13


The Caltech Division of Engineering and Applied Science and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have established a new scholarship program, named after outgoing National Academy of Engineering (NAE) president Charles M. Vest at their institutions, along with six other universities around the country. "The Vest Scholarship is a superb opportunity for high-powered international graduate students to work with faculty and researchers who are international leaders in their engineering disciplines," says Chair Ares Rosakis. "At Caltech, due to its small size and strong interdisciplinary philosophy, the students will have the opportunity to work closely with not only these international leaders in engineering research, but also with their collaborators in all areas of science and technology." [Caltech Press Release] [Application Information] 3.14.13


Richard MurrayMichael OrtizRichard M. Murray, Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering, and Michael Ortiz, Dotty and Dick Hayman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Murray was elected for contributions in control theory and networked control systems with applications to aerospace engineering, robotics, and autonomy. Professor Ortiz was elected for contributions to computational mechanics to advance the underpinnings of solid mechanics. [Caltech Press Release] 2.10.13


Michael H. Dickinson, Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, describes the engineering behind how flies fly at TEDxCaltech:The Brain. [Watch the Video] 2.4.13


Graduate student Matanya B. Horowitz, who works with Professors Joel Burdick and John Doyle, is one of the speakers at TEDxCaltech. He is active in several Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) challenges that seek to develop better control mechanisms for robotic arms, as well as develop humanoid robots that can do human-like tasks in dangerous situations, such as disable bombs or enter nuclear power plants during an emergency. [Caltech Press Release] 1.17.13