Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology


The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology (IST), designed by the architectural firm Frederick Fisher and Partners, is near completion. The building which is nicknamed "the green building" will be home to some participants of the IST initiative, an interdisciplinary research and instruction program addressing the growth and impact of information as it relates to all science and engineering practices. The building dedication ceremony is scheduled for October 30, 2009 please visit the EAS division website for more information on the event. [Caltech Today Article]

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President Obama Presents Three EAS Faculty with the PECASE


In a special White House ceremony, President Obama will be presenting three EAS faculty: John Dabiri, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, Beverley McKeon, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics, and Joel Tropp, Assistant Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics, with the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). "These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country," President Obama said. Dabiri,describes the idea behind his PECASE-winning research as "giving underwater vehicles the enhanced performance of fish (e.g. efficiency, stealth, and maneuverablity) without mimicking the shape and swimming motions of fish. Instead, we replicate the vortex dynamics in the wakes of swimming fish." His "bio-inspired systems" were used by Lydia Ruiz (PhD '09 Mechanical Engineering), to demonstrateincreases in vehicle propulsive efficiency of over 50 percent.

McKeon is receiving the PECASE for her research on fundamental questions in complex turbulent boundary layers. McKeon states that "the ultimate goal is to incorporate recent advances in the understanding of flow physics in order to develop low order models of flow over surfaces for Air Force applications". Tropp's PECASE-winning research "focuses on developing new algorithms for solving inverse problems, a basic challenge that arises throughout the mathematical sciences. Inverse problems also appear in medical imaging, in communication systems, in statistical data analysis, and a host of other areas." He uses tools from modern applied mathematics, such as optimization techniques and randomized algorithms to collect partial information about an object of interest, and incorporate additional background knowledge to develop a complete picture of the object.

Other researchers receiving the PECASE award this year are Joshua K. Willis from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the following Caltech Alumni Elizabeth Boon, (PhD '03 CCE), Markus J. Buehler, (Post doc in CCE) Michael J. Hochberg, (Ph.D. '06 EAS - Applied Physics), Justin K. Romberg, (Post doc in EAS - Applied and Computational Mathematics), Cecilia R. Aragon, (B.S. '82 PMA), Jason Graetz, (Ph.D. '03 EAS - Materials Science), and Ioannis Chasiotis, (Ph.D. '02 EAS - Aerospace). 

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Sheila Shull Has Won One of the Two 2009 Schmitt Staff Prizes


The Schmitt Prize recognizes a staff member of the Caltech community whose contributions embody the values and spirit that enable the Institute to achieve excellence in research and education. Sheila has been with Applied and Computational Mathematics (ACM) for almost 30 years and takes care of almost every aspect of the day-to-day activities in ACM, including proposal submission and grant management; management of staff members, visitors, and students; organization of international conferences; recruitment of students and instructors; utilization of space; and, most importantly, "care and feeding" of the ACM faculty, which is not without its challenges. As one of her nominators wrote: "It is people like her, in direct daily contact with faculty and students, that truly define the atmosphere in our Institute." Kudos Sheila! 

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John Doyle Discovers the Importance of Fire in Global Climate Change


Scientists Discover Importance of Fire in Global Climate Change. Researchers including John Doyle, Caltech's Braun Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems, Electrical Engineering, and Bioengineering, Emeritus, have determined that fire must be accounted for as an integral part of climate change. Their research shows that intentional deforestation fires alone contribute up to one-fifth of the human-caused increase in emissions of carbon dioxide. According to the article, increasing numbers of natural wildfires are influencing climate as well. [Science Magazine article]

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Erik Winfree Controls Complex Nucleation Processes using DNA Origami Seeds


"Flowers, dogs, and just about all biological objects are created from the bottom up," says Erik Winfree, associate professor of computer science, computation and neural systems, and bioengineering at Caltech. Along with his coworkers, Winfree is seeking to integrate bottom-up construction approaches with molecular fabrication processes to construct objects from parts that are just a few billionths of a meter in size that essentially assemble themselves. In a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Winfree and his colleagues describe the development of an information-containing DNA "seed" that can direct the self-assembled bottom-up growth of tiles of DNA in a precisely controlled fashion. In some ways, the process is similar to how the fertilized seeds of plants or animals contain information that directs the growth and development of those organisms. [Caltech Press Release]

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Niles Pierce and Michael Elowitz on Nature List of Favourite Articles


The editors of Nature have published a list of 22 of their favourite articles from 2008 - including Programming biomolecular self-assembly pathways by Niles Pierce, Associate Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Bioengineering, and colleagues, and Frequency-modulated nuclear localization bursts coordinate gene regulation by Michael Elowitz, Assistant Professor of Biology and Applied Physics and Bren Scholar, and colleagues. 

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Alexei Kitaev Named a MacArthur Fellow


Alexei Kitaev, Professor of Theoretical Physics and Computer Science, has been named a MacArthur Fellow, winning one of the five-year, $500,000 grants that are awarded annually to creative, original individuals and that are often referred to as the "genius" awards. Kitaev explores the mysterious behavior of quantum systems and their implications for developing practical applications, such as quantum computers. He has made important theoretical contributions to a wide array of topics within condensed-matter physics, including quasicrystals and quantum chaos. [Caltech Press Release]

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Adam Wierman Receives Okawa Foundation Research Grant


Professor Adam Wierman has been named a recipient of the 2008 Okawa Foundation Research Grant. This prize honors top young researchers working in the fields of information and telecommunications. The grant awardees will be honored by the Okawa Foundation on October 8 in San Francisco.

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$10 Million Awarded to the Molecular Programming Project Led by Erik Winfree


The National Science Foundation's Expeditions in Computing program has awarded $10 million to the Molecular Programming Project, a collaborative effort by researchers at Caltech and the University of Washington, led by Professor Erik Winfree, to establish a fundamental approach to the design of complex molecular and chemical systems based on the principles of computer science. [Caltech Press Release]

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Emmanuel Candes Receives Information Theory Society Paper Award


Emmanuel Candes, Ronald and Maxine Linde Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics, has garnered the 2008 Information Theory Society Paper Award jointly with Terence Tao and David Donoho. Their ground-breaking papers were cited for independently introducing the new area of compressed sensing, which holds great promise for processing massive amounts of data, and has already had a broad impact on a diverse set of fields, including signal processing, information theory, function approximation, MRI, and radar design.

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