News & Events


A Winning Sanitation Solution


The inventors of the solar-powered toilet, a unit developed by a team led by Professor Michael Hoffmann, have a new award winning project. Project Seva, which means "service" in Hindi. It was named the first place winner of the Vodafone's Wireless Innovation program. The Seva team realized that because the solar toilet and other sanitation systems like it are relatively simple, inexpensive sensors could be used to monitor the status of those systems' parts. Combining that insight with the knowledge that more than three-quarters of the world's people have access to a mobile phone, the team decided to design a self-diagnosing maintenance system for sanitation solutions that could alert designated local operators of a malfunction via cell phone message. [Caltech story]

Tags: energy research highlights ESE Michael Hoffmann

Tracking Photosynthesis from Space


Professor Paul Wennberg and colleagues have developed a new technique to analyze plant productivity using data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite. To perform photosynthesis, the chlorophyll in leaves absorbs sunlight and a small fraction of the absorbed light is reemitted as near-infrared light. This reemitted light makes the plants appear to glow—a property called solar induced fluorescence (SIF). "The measurements of SIF from OCO-2 greatly extend the science of this mission", says Professor Wennberg. "OCO-2 was designed to map carbon dioxide, and scientists plan to use these measurements to determine the underlying sources and sinks of this important gas. The new SIF measurements will allow us to diagnose the efficiency of the plants—a key component of the sinks of carbon dioxide." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights ESE Paul Wennberg

Women Making History


In celebration of Women’s History Month, influential women leaders from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Caltech gathered at the JPL von Karman auditorium. Present at the event, entitled Women Making History, were the 2015 honorees for Women@JPL as well as Caltech faculty and staff. It was an opportunity for women at different stages of their career to meet and network. EAS faculty were represented by Professors Bordoni, Greer, and Hunt.  The JPL Advisory Council for Women was the lead organizer of the event.

Tags: APhMS honors MedE MCE ESE Julia Greer Simona Bordoni Melany Hunt JPL

Professor Fredric Raichlen Passes Away


Fredric Raichlen, Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on December 13, 2014 at age 82. He was an expert on the mechanics of tsunamis, the waves created by underwater earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other geologic events. He was also one of the founding faculty members of Caltech's doctoral program in environmental engineering science. [Caltech Obituary] [ENGenious profile of Prof. Raichlen’s student]

Tags: MCE EAS history ESE Fredric Raichlen

Professor Bordoni Receives Young Investigator Award in Environmental Sciences


Simona Bordoni, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, has received a Young Investigator Award in Environmental Sciences from the Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation (ISSNAF). The award is given to early stage investigators working in North America whose commitment to their discipline of study is innovative, impactful, and honors their country of origin. Professor Bordoni received the award for her research in fundamental monsoon dynamics, specifically aquaplanet monsoons and their response to climate changes. She has also received a medal from the President of the Italian Republic, "Medaglia di Rappresentanza del Presidente della Repubblica Italiana." [Research abstract]

Tags: honors research highlights ESE Simona Bordoni

Professor Thompson Receives Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering


Andrew Thompson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, who uses autonomous underwater instruments and numerical models to study ocean currents and eddies.  As well as their impact on Earth's ecology and climate, has been awarded a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering. Packard Fellowships are awarded to the nation's "most innovative early-career scientists and engineers" to provide them with "flexible funding and the freedom to take risks and explore new frontiers in their fields," according to the foundation. [Caltech Release]

Tags: honors ESE Andrew Thompson

Caltech Engineering Ranks High on U.S. News Best Grad Schools List


Caltech’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs have been ranked fourth in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Engineering graduate programs ranked very well with second in aerospace / aeronautical / astronautical, third in mechanical, third in applied math, fourth in electrical / electronic / communications, sixth in materials, and eight in environmental / environmental health. [All 2015 Caltech Rankings]

Tags: APhMS EE GALCIT MCE CMS ESE Graduate school rankings

Highly Cited


The Thomson Reuters compilation of the most highly cited researchers— those in the top 1%—from the period 2002–2012 include EAS professors Harry Atwater, Richard Murray, Joel Tropp, John Seinfeld, Kerry Vahala, and Paul Wennberg. Other Caltech professors were also among the top 1%—including Colin Camerer, Mark Davis, Richard Ellis, William Goddard, Robert Grubbs, Hiroo Kanamori, Jeff Kimble, John O’Doherty, and Charles Steidel. This compilation aims to identify researchers with exceptional impact on their respective fields.  [Detailed information on the methodology]

Tags: APhMS honors MCE Harry Atwater CMS ESE Paul Wennberg John Seinfeld Joel Tropp Kerry Vahala Richard Murray

Caltech and JPL Collaborate with Indian Space Program


The Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Charles Elachi, and the Chair of Caltech’s EAS Division, Ares Rosakis, recently hosted the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Dr. Koppillil Radhakrishnan.  The visit focused on plans regarding a joined Earth-orbiting  mission that will be the first radar mission to systematically and globally study the solid Earth, the ice masses, and ecosystems, all of which are sparsely sampled at present.  While at Caltech Dr. Koppillil Radhakrishnan visited research facilities and delivered the Klein Lecture in Aerospace.  In his presentation he highlighted the long history of connections between engineers and scientist at Caltech and in India.  Dr. Radhakrishnan prides himself to be the last student of Caltech alumnus Satish Dhawan (Eng '49, PhD '51) who participated in the creation of India's space program.  “Caltech has been instrumental in the training of many international space leaders,” explains Chair Rosakis “these include Satish Dhawan who was pivotal in the creation of the Indian space program and Qian Xuesen (also known as Tsien Hsue-Shen) who was the father of Chinese rocketry.” Last year the Indian Department of Space and ISRO established a fellowship at Caltech in the name of Satish Dhawan to further encourage the training of Indian students at Caltech and specifically at GALCIT.

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Tags: GALCIT ESE Ares Rosakis Qian Xuesen Tsien Hsue-Shen Charles Elachi JPL Satish Dhawan Koppillil Radhakrishnan

Professor Seinfeld Elected to the National Academy of Sciences


Professor John H. Seinfeld has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. His research has revealed the role of organic species in aerosols and the process by which vapor molecules become incorporated into particles. Currently his work focuses on the effects of aerosols on cloud formation and Earth's climate. [Caltech Release]

Tags: research highlights ESE John Seinfeld NAS