News & Events


A Science Journey with Fernando Villafuerte


As part of the Science Journeys lecture series—designed to inspire scientific curiosity, especially among students in eighth grade and higher—graduate student Fernando Villafuerte discussed his path to Caltech and his research on batteries, including their role in sustainability solutions. Villafuerte works in the lab of Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; and Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute. His research focuses on a novel material known as a solid polymer electrolyte, which could potentially be used to create batteries that can store more energy than currently possible. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer Fernando Villafuerte

The Grid Gets Smart


Adaptive electric vehicle chargers and advanced battery designs are some of the ways Caltech researchers are building a more sustainable electric grid. Steven Low, Frank J. Gilloon Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Electrical Engineering, invented the Adaptive Charging Network (ACN). But Low and others warn that this grid is unprepared for the challenges of the 21st century. “The current grid will very soon hit a wall where, when we add renewable energy, it sits unused because the demand isn’t there at a time when the solar is running,” says Adam Wierman, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences; Director, Information Science and Technology. That is why Caltech researchers are working on ways to break down that barrier to help empower an energy transformation. 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, is pushing the limits of the batteries themselves.  [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Julia Greer Adam Wierman Steven Low Kimberly See

Student-Led Lunar Architecture Team Named Finalist in NASA Competition for Second Consecutive Year


Caused by collisions from asteroids, comets, and other astronomical objects, lunar craters give our moon its characteristic pockmarked façade. These craters hold the materials necessary for building sustained human settlements on the moon. Accessing the materials inside lunar craters is no easy task. NASA seeks new ways of getting around the moon that do not rely on wheels. The agency's Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge asks university teams to go beyond wheeled rovers and create new solutions to the problem of traversing lunar craters. A team of more than 30 Caltech undergraduates in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science is among seven 2022 BIG Idea finalists. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT MCE Harry Atwater CMS Soon-Jo Chung Brit Wylie Luis Pabon Rithvik Musuku Kaila Coimbra Polina Verkhovodova Tyler Colenbrander Lucas Pabarcius Calle Junker Sravani Boggaram Matticus Brown Sean Chang Bobby Daigle Nico Jimenez-Lozano Alec Laprevotte Joshua Lee Moya Ly Amrita Mayavaram Robert Menezes Nathan Ng Dilichi Nwankwo Jedi Alindogan Diego Attra Sulekha Kishore Aramis Mendoza Winter Pearson Jules Penot Kemal Pulungan Purvi Sehgal Parul Singh Aiden Swann Malcolm Tisdale Tomas Wexler Brooklyn Williams Benjamin Zeng Isabella Zuniga

Nano-architected Material Refracts Light Backward—An Important Step Toward One Day Creating Photonic Circuits


A newly created nano-architected material exhibits a property that previously was just theoretically possible: it can refract light backward, regardless of the angle at which the light strikes the material. "Negative refraction is crucial to the future of nanophotonics, which seeks to understand and manipulate the behavior of light when it interacts with materials or solid structures at the smallest possible scales," says 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. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Harry Atwater Julia Greer Victoria Chernow Siying Peng Ryan Ng

Yu-Chong Tai Receives 2021 SoCalBio Innovation Award


Yu-Chong Tai, Anna L. Rosen Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Andrew and Peggy Cherng Medical Engineering Leadership Chair; Executive Officer for Medical Engineering, has been awarded the 2021 Innovation Award for Outstanding Researcher by The Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio). The Award is meant to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Greater Los Angeles Region's bioscience entrepreneurs, researchers, and educators.


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

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

Winners of the 2021 New Horizons Award Announced


The student winners of the 2021 New Horizons Award were announced at the end of this academic year. Sara Beery was recognized for her passion, energy, and fearlessness to improve the CMS program by founding the Women in CMS group, organizing events and discussions on racism in academia, and advocating for the support structures that improve the educational experience for all CMS students. Abigail (Abby) Jiang was recognized for her commitment to enhance the campus environment through her leadership of the Caltech Asian Pacific Islander Desi American student association (APIDA+) and of PRISM, the Caltech LGBTQ+ association, and her advocacy for other campus diversity initiatives. Daniel Mukasa was recognized for his dedication and leadership of Black Scientists and Engineers of Caltech, which catalyzed campus engagement, reflection, and reform, and for his mentorship of undergraduates through the WAVE program. Alexander Choi, Leah Ginsburg, Marcus Lee and Victoria Lee, were recognized for their collective engagement and sustained dedication to improve the quality of life for MCE graduate students that culminated in the initiation of a seminar series, an option-wide climate survey, the appointment of a Diversity Liaison, the creation of a MCE community statement, and formation of, a campus-wide data base for DEI activities.

Tags: APhMS honors MCE CMS Sara Beery Abigail Jiang Daniel Mukasa Marcus Lee Victoria Lee Alexander Choi Leah Ginsburg

Marcus Lee Receives MCE Outstanding Service Award


Graduate student Marcus Lee has been awarded the MCE Outstanding Service Award. The award is given in recognition of their significant contributions to improve the quality of climate, culture and scholarship in service of the Mechanical and Civil Engineering Department. 

Tags: honors MCE Marcus Lee