News

A Swiss Army Knife for Genomic Data

04-05-21

A good way to find out what a cell is doing—whether it is growing out of control as in cancers, or is under the control of an invading virus, or is simply going about the routine business of a healthy cell—is to look at its gene expression. Lior Pachter, Bren Professor of Computational Biology and Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has developed a complex software tool that enables the processing of large sets of genomic data in about 30 minutes, using the computing power of an average laptop. Like a Swiss Army knife, the tool can be used in myriad ways for different biological needs, and will help ensure the reproducibility of scientific studies. "The interdisciplinarity of our team was crucial to conceiving of and executing this project," says Pachter. "There are people in the lab who are computer scientists, biologists, engineers. Sina Booeshaghi is in the mechanical engineering department and brings the perspective of his design background and engineering." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE CMS Lior Pachter Sina Booeshaghi

Astronomers Image Magnetic Fields at the Edge of M87's Black Hole

03-24-21

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, which produced the first-ever image of a black hole, revealed a new view of the massive object at the center of the M87 galaxy: a picture of its polarized light. This is the first time astronomers have been able to measure polarization, a signature of magnetic fields, this close to the edge of a black hole. "We are now able to see a different dimension of the light circling the M87 black hole," says Katie Bouman, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Astronomy, Rosenberg Scholar, and co-coordinator of the EHT Imaging Working Group. "The image we reconstructed earlier showed us how bright the light was around the black hole shadow. This image is telling us about the direction of that light." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Katie Bouman

Professor Bouman Featured in Inverse Magazine

03-10-21

Katie Bouman, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Astronomy; Rosenberg Scholar, was featured in Inverse Magazine as one of the astronomers who captured the first image of a black hole. In 2019, Bouman and a group of more than 200 astronomers from all over the world managed the inconceivable: They captured the first image of a black hole, rendering the invisible visible. "Ideally, to see a black hole, we would need a telescope the size of the entire Earth," says Bouman. "We had to come up with a computational telescope that size." [Inverse article]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Katie Bouman

Paul Rothemund Places Molecule-Scale Devices in Precise Orientation

02-22-21

Paul Rothemund, Research Professor of Bioengineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Computation and Neural Systems, has developed a technique that allows him to precisely place microscopic devices formed from folded DNA molecules in not only a specific location but also in a specific orientation. This method for precisely placing and orienting DNA-based molecular devices may make it possible to use these molecular devices to power new kinds of chips that integrate molecular biosensors with optics and electronics for applications such as DNA sequencing or measuring the concentrations of thousands of proteins at once. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights CMS Paul Rothemund KNI CNS

Metals that Work Like Magic

02-16-21

Metals that Work Like Magic, a podcast from the Wall Street Journal, features Jamil Tahir-Kheli, research staff member working with Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus. The podcast focuses on the history of superconductivity research over the past forty years and potential applications.

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Carver Mead CNS Jamil Tahir-Kheli

Adam Blank Meets Students Where They Are To Connect Across the Digital Divide

02-05-21

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic forced Caltech to shift to a model of remote learning, Adam Blank, Teaching Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, focused their research on new technologies and techniques with the potential to improve student comprehension and the quality of education. Blank concentrated on making classes work remotely and helping students overcome the issues inherent in being away from campus. "The biggest thing is that I am unafraid to use a new tool, see it fail, and switch to another new tool," Blank says. "I adapted quickly—I think it's the way that I would put it—because I am used to trying new technologies all over the place and seeing what works and what doesn't." [Caltech story]

Tags: CMS teaching Adam Blank

Yashwanth Nakka Wins Best Graduate Student Paper Award

01-20-21

Graduate student Yashwanth Nakka, working with Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, and colleagues have won the Best Graduate Student Paper award at the 2021 AIAA SciTech Forum in the area of Guidance, Navigation, and Control. The paper is entitled “Information-Based Guidance and Control Architecture for Multi-Spacecraft On-Orbit Inspection,” and the co-authors are Caltech postdoctoral scholar Wolfgang Hoenig and research engineer Alexei Harvard, as well as JPL colleagues Changrak Choi and Amir Rahmani. This work was supported by the JPL-CAST Swarm Autonomy project. 

Tags: GALCIT CMS Soon-Jo Chung postdocs Yashwanth Nakka Wolfgang Hoenig Alexei Harvard Changrak Choi Amir Rahmani

Professor Low Named ACM Fellow

01-13-21

Steven Low, Frank J. Gilloon Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Electrical Engineering, has been named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He is being recognized, “for theoretical foundations and real-world deployment of Internet congestion control and smart grid optimization.” The ACM Fellows Program recognizes and honors outstanding ACM members for their achievements in computer science and information technology. [ACM release]

Tags: EE honors CMS Steven Low CNS

Professor Desbrun Named ACM Fellow

01-13-21

Mathieu Desbrun, Carl F Braun Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has been named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He is being recognized, “for contributions to geometry processing and discrete differential geometry.” The ACM Fellows Program recognizes and honors outstanding ACM members for their achievements in computer science and information technology. [ACM release]

Tags: honors CMS Mathieu Desbrun

Anima Anandkumar Elevated to IEEE Fellow

12-04-20

Anima Anandkumar, Bren Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has been elevated as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for contributions to theory and applications in signal processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. The IEEE Fellow is one of the most prestigious honors of the IEEE, and is bestowed upon a very limited number of Senior Members who have contributed importantly to the advancement or application of engineering, science and technology. [Elevated class of 2021]

Tags: honors CMS IST CNS Animashree Anandkumar