A Swiss Army Knife for Genomic Data


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

Aaron Ames Elevated to IEEE Fellow


Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, has been elevated as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for contributions to hybrid and safety-critical nonlinear control with demonstration on robotic systems. 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 MCE CMS IST CNS Aaron Ames

Robotics Engineers Take on COVID-19


Methods that were originally created to help robots to walk and autonomous cars to drive safely can also help epidemiologists predict the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, and colleagues took these tools and applied them to the development of an epidemiological methodology that accounts for human interventions (like mask mandates and stay-at-home orders). By utilizing the U.S. COVID-19 data from March through May, they were able to predict the infection wave during the summer to high accuracy. "This is the greatest health challenge to face our society in a generation at least. We all need to pitch in and help in any way we can," Ames says. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE CMS IST Aaron Ames CDS Andrew Singletary

FUTURE Ignited


Nearly 200 undergraduates from more than 120 colleges and universities across the country joined Caltech for FUTURE Ignited, a virtual event that aimed to encourage students of color to pursue graduate studies in science and engineering. The goal of FUTURE Ignited is to diversify STEM with students of color who will go on to become incredible graduate students and scientific leaders in their respective fields. [Caltech story]


Four EAS Students Receive Department of Energy Fellowships


Four Engineering and Applied Science graduate students are among 26 who have been named as recipients of a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF), which the DOE provides to future leaders in the field of high-performance computing (HPC). [Caltech story]

Tags: honors MCE CMS Alexandra Baumgart Emily de Jong Ethan Epperly Margaret Trautner

Ishani A. Karmarkar Receives 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Applied and computational mathematics student Ishani A. Karmarkar is a recipient of the 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Ishani is interested in data science and numerical algorithms, as well as applications to physical problems. This summer, she will be working on a SURF project on graph-based semi-supervised learning algorithms with Bamdad Hosseini, Senior Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate, and Andrew Stuart, Bren Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences. In the past, she has also worked on a fluid modelling project with Sandra Troian, Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering, and completed a summer internship at Facebook. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: APhMS honors GALCIT MCE CMS Henry Ford II Scholar Award Sandra Troian Andrew Stuart Ishani Karmarkar

IRCA Best Paper Awards


Two teams of Caltech researchers have won three International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Best Paper Awards in multiple categories along with the overall best paper award. The ICRA is the largest and most prestigious robotics conference of the year. Awards are given on the basis of technical merit, originality, potential impact on the field, clarity of the written paper, and quality of the presentation. Maegan Tucker, Ellen Novoseller, Claudia Kann, Yanan Sui, Yisong YueJoel Burdick, and Aaron Ames, have won the ICRA Best Conference Paper Award and the ICRA Best Paper Award on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) for their paper entitled "Preference-Based Learning for Exoskeleton Gait Optimization." Amanda Bouman, Paul Nadan, Matthew Anderson, Daniel Pastor, Jacob Izraelevitz, Joel Burdick, and Brett Kennedy, have won the ICRA Best Paper Award on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for their paper entitled "Design and Autonomous Stabilization of a Ballistically Launched Multirotor." [Virtual Award Ceremony]

Tags: EE honors MedE MCE CMS Joel Burdick IST Yisong Yue CNS Aaron Ames Maegan Tucker Ellen Novoseller Claudia Kann Yanan Sui Amanda Bouman Paul Nadan Matthew Anderson Daniel Pastor Jacob Izraelevitz Brett Kennedy

Researchers Develop New Quantum Algorithm


Austin Minnich, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, Fernando Brandão, Bren Professor of Theoretical Physics, and Garnet Chan, Bren Professor of Chemistry, have developed an algorithm for quantum computers that will help them find use in simulations in the physical sciences. The new algorithm allows a user to find the lowest energy of a given molecule or material. Many people are interested in how to simulate the ground states of molecules and materials. "If we want to do a simulation of water, we could look at how water behaves after it has been blasted into a plasma—an electrically charged gas—but that's not the state water is usually found in; it is not the ground state of water. Ground states are of special interest in understanding the world under ordinary conditions," says Chan. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MCE KNI Austin Minnich Fernando Brandão Garnet Chan

Professor Ames Receives Antonio Ruberti Young Researcher Prize


Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, has won the Antonio Ruberti Young Researcher Prize. This prize is given to recognize outstanding achievement in research in systems and control by a young researcher and to honor the memory of Dr. Antonio Ruberti. [Past recipients]

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Caltech Announces the Schmidt Academy for Software Engineering


Caltech has launched the Schmidt Academy for Software Engineering to train the next generation of science-savvy software engineers and set new standards in scientific software. "This is a recognition that computing, software, and machine learning are going to play a very big role in science. Because Caltech is small and collaborative, we have the opportunity to really make a push in that direction," says Kaushik Bhattacharya, the Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and Materials Science and vice provost. [Caltech release]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MCE CMS Tapio Schneider Donnie Pinkston Kaushik Bhattacharya