News & Events


Solar Powered, Electrochemical, Wastewater Treatment System


Cody Finke, Environmental Science and Engineering graduate student, and Justin Jasper, Resnick Sustainability Institute Prize Postdoctoral Scholar, are the runner ups for the Dow Resnick Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) at Caltech. They have been working Professor Michael Hoffmann to enhance a modular, solar powered, electrochemical, on-site wastewater treatment system created by their group for toilets in the developing and developed world. With an operating cost of less than 5 US cents per day, this wastewater treatment technology meets benchmarks for affordability in the developing world. It also has the potential to protect human health and ecosystem well-being in communities most at risk to disease and resource-loss through environmental pollution. [Resnick Institute story]

Tags: honors energy research highlights health ESE Michael Hoffmann Cody Finke Justin Jasper

Extending a Battery's Lifetime with Heat


The research of alumnus Asghar Aryanfar (’15 PhD, ME) along with Professors Goddard and Hoffmann has shown that heat can break down the damaging branch-like structures that grow inside batteries, which may possibly be used to extend battery lifetimes. [Learn more] [Read the paper]

Tags: research highlights MCE ESE William Goddard alumni Michael Hoffmann Asghar Aryanfar

Highly Cited Researchers


The Thomson Reuters compilation of the most highly cited researchers— those in the top 1%—include EAS professors Harry Atwater, William Goddard, Babak Hassibi, Joel Tropp, Kerry Vahala, and Paul Wennberg. This compilation aims to identify researchers with exceptional impact on their respective fields. [Detailed information on the methodology]

Tags: APhMS EE honors Harry Atwater CMS ESE Paul Wennberg William Goddard Joel Tropp Kerry Vahala Babak Hassibi

121st Commencement Ceremony


Caltech’s 121st commencement ceremony was held on Friday June 12, 2015. The commencement speaker was cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell, an expert on the intersection of culture and technology. She reminded the graduates that it is the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law which she referred to as a bold statement of engineering and a promise about the state of the future. She asked the graduates to not only bring their technical skills to the table, but also their humanity and obligation to make the work a better place. [View Dr. Bell’s commencement address]

Tags: Commencement Genevieve Bell

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