News & Events


Dabiri Appointed to Secretary of Energy Advisory Board


The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that John O. Dabiri, the Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been appointed to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). The SEAB meets quarterly to advise Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on how best to achieve the department's priorities and offer recommendations on scientific, technical, and programmatic issues relating to the DOE's mission. "I'm excited to work with the secretary to ensure strong support for fundamental science research, especially in areas where the technological application might be hard to predict today," Dabiri said. "Secretary Granholm's vision to accelerate deployment of climate solutions matches my own sense of urgency to advance sustainability. I'm honored by the opportunity provide advice where it can be helpful for achieving that goal." [Caltech story]

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Dabiri Appointed to President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology


President Joe Biden has announced the appointment of John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Presidents have established advisory committees of scientists, engineers, and health professionals ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt created his Science Advisory Board in 1933. "We're here to provide whatever input the president needs," Dabiri says. "My understanding is that we'll be meeting pretty frequently, as the president wants science to be a big part of his decision-making process." [Caltech story]

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Professor Pellegrino Awarded Torroja Medal


Sergio Pellegrino, Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project, has been awarded the Torroja Medal from the International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS). The engraved medal represents the highest individual recognition given by the Association to members or nonmembers of the Association in recognition of outstanding and distinguished contributions to design, construction or research of shell and/or spatial structures. [Past recipients]

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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]

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EAS New Horizons Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award


The Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences seeks nominations to recognize and honor individuals within the EAS community who have actively contributed to EAS’s goal to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive engineering community. The award is available to members of the EAS community, including current students, postdoctoral scholars, staff, and faculty. Nominations are due Wednesday, May 19, 2021 and are accepted from anyone in the EAS community, EAS alumni and members of the Caltech community. Click here for full description of how to make a nomination.


Professor Rosakis Receives Horace Mann Medal


Ares Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering is the recipient of the 2020/2021 Horace Mann Medal. The Horace Mann Medal is given annually to a Brown Graduate School alumnus or alumna who has made significant contributions in his or her field, inside or outside of academia. Rosakis is recognized for his research and mentoring skills, as well as being “a champion of societal impact that can be realized through the sciences,” says Larry Larson, Sorensen Family Dean of the Brown School of Engineering. [Previous Winners]

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New EAS Division Chair Announced


Harry A. Atwater, the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science and director of the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA), has been selected as the new chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. On July 1, he will begin his five-year term, taking over the Otis Booth Leadership Chair from current division chair Guruswami (Ravi) Ravichandran, the John E. Goode, Jr., Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. After more than three decades at Caltech, Atwater says he's looking forward to the opportunity to serve the Institute in a new way. "I'm excited to be able to pay back or pay forward all of the investments that Caltech has made in me," he says. "I'm excited to try to do what I can to catalyze research initiatives that my colleagues are excited to lead, and to make the division as strong and distinctive as possible." [Caltech story]

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Student-Led Moon Dust Shield Team Named Finalist in NASA Competition


As astronauts walk across the moon, land spacecraft on its surface, drive lunar rovers around, or complete other astronaut tasks, they kick up the dust, and that is a problem because it can cause premature wear on mechanical parts, damage to seals, and may pose a health risk for the people breathing it in. "The sun is shining directly on these particles and giving them an electric charge," says third-year Caltech undergraduate student Luis Pabon. "This causes it to stick to the astronaut's suit or to any sensors or cameras that you put out on the moon." The Caltech team's invention, named Habitat Orientable & Modular Electrodynamic Shield (HOMES), tackles the problem of moon dust entering a potential lunar habitat and wreaking havoc within. [Caltech story]

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Brit Wylie Awarded Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship


Graduate student Brit Wylie has been awarded a Matthew Isakowitz fellowship. The Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program is a highly selective internship, mentorship, and networking program that provides extraordinary summer opportunities to current college juniors, seniors, and graduate students passionate about commercial spaceflight. Brit is excited to work on commercial space accessibility with Rocket Lab and the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program this summer. [2021 Recipients]

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Waterman Awardee Dabiri Featured in National Science Foundation Video Profile


The National Science Foundation (NSF) honored John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, with the 2020 Alan T. Waterman Award. The NSF has released a video interview with the Waterman awardees. The Alan T. Waterman Award is given to an outstanding young U.S. scientist or engineer along with a medal and other recognition. "This year's scientific pioneers are innovators who are creatively addressing some of the most challenging scientific questions," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "John Dabiri has looked to the fluid mechanics of sea life for inspiration to build better wind farms that appear to boost efficiency with a much smaller footprint." [NSF Interview with Dabiri] [NSF story] [Caltech story]

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