Thanks to Professor Pietro Perona and his graduate students including Grant Van Horn and Sara Beery, the next wildlife photo you snap might set you on a path to helping map life on Earth. “The whole web, this huge repository of wonderful information, is indexed by words,” Perona says. “But when we have an image—a visual query—we don’t know what to do unless there is an expert next to us. We’ve gotten so numb to the idea that we’ll never find the answer out.” [Breakthrough story]
Fei Chen (BS ’11 EE) is on the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list for “building better microscopy technologies … that could help explain how complex tissues like the brain, made of a large collection of diverse cell types, are organized.” As an Electrical Engineering undergraduate student at Caltech Fei Chen was an Axline Merit Scholar for his outstanding record of personal and academic accomplishments. Currently he is a Principal Investigator at the Broad Institute, Harvard-MIT. [Forbes 30 Under 30 Full List]
Professor Ali Hajimiri and colleagues have developed a new optical gyroscope that is 500 times smaller than the current state-of-the-art device, yet they can detect phase shifts that are 30 times smaller than those systems. Their device achieves this improved performance by using a new technique called "reciprocal sensitivity enhancement." In this case, "reciprocal" means that it affects both beams of the light inside the gyroscope in the same way. [Caltech story]
Alireza Marandi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, explores how nonlinear photonics, a field of optics, enables a broad range of previously less-explored opportunities for using lasers and light detectors for a variety of purposes, including molecular sensing and computing. One possible application of his work is in breath analysis. He describes, “ there's a lot of useful information about your health contained in your breath, but it is difficult to analyze because the concentrations are so low. To overcome that, you could analyze the spectra of exhaled breath using lasers, searching for the spectral "fingerprints," or signatures, that reveal the presence of those compounds.” [Interview with Professor Marandi]
Starting in fall 2018, EAS will offer students a new undergraduate degree option in a field that is at the forefront of computer science: information and data sciences (IDS). Mathematics will form the backbone of the new option. Students in IDS will take core courses focusing on machine learning, information theory, probability, statistics, linear algebra, and signal processing. After that, they will have the opportunity to branch out with electives that cover applications of data sciences to science and engineering. Professor Adam Wierman hopes the creation of this new option will prepare both students and Caltech for the future. "It almost doesn't matter what you're interested in. If you want to make discoveries and be on the cutting edge of your field, you're going to need the skills to analyze and manipulate large collections of information," he says. [Caltech story] [Degree option details]
In a letter to the Caltech community during National Postdoc Appreciation Week, the Caltech President emphasizes the role this key group plays at the Institute. He stated, “Caltech's mission of world-leading research and education depends crucially on our postdoctoral scholars. Although their time at Caltech may be short, they quickly become vital parts of the Institute's intellectual fabric.” [President’s Letter] [EAS Postdoc Resource Page]
Professor Azita Emami’s work in high-speed data communications has led to a breakthrough that could spare millions of people the need to prick themselves with needles. As she engineers a more connected world, she also is working to make it a healthier one. Professor Emami doesn’t draw a line between the different endeavors. “Electronic systems for cell phones and computers are very, very advanced,” she explains. “So why not take the knowledge we have gained developing those technologies and find ways to apply it toward solutions in medicine?” [Breakthrough story]
Azita Emami, Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering and Executive Officer for Electrical Engineering, Yu-Chong Tai, Anna L. Rosen Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Andrew and Peggy Cherng Medical Engineering Leadership Chair; Executive Officer for Medical Engineering, and colleagues have developed a new pressure-sensing implant for the eye that could help prevent one of the leading causes of blindness. The implant could help glaucoma patients monitor their condition by wirelessly sending data about the eye to the patient or medical professionals. Patients at risk for glaucoma are required to make regular visits to an ophthalmologist to have their intraocular pressure (eye pressure) checked. The disadvantage is that patients are only able to measure pressure while visiting their doctor. With a wireless implant, a patient has access to their eye pressure data at any time, and continuous monitoring will allow intervention sooner if needed. [Caltech story]
Ryan Monroe, advised by Greg Hallinan is a winner of this year's Milton and Francis Clauser Doctoral Prize, for his thesis "Gigahertz Bandwidth and Nanosecond Timescales: New Frontiers in Radio Astronomy through Peak Performance Signal Processing." The Clauser Prize is awarded to students whose PhD thesis reflects "extraordinary standards of quality, innovative research, ingenuity, and especially the potential of opening new avenues of human thought and endeavor."
Behrooz Abiri, advised by Ali Hajimiri is a winner of this year's Charles Wilts Prize, for his doctoral thesis "Silicon Integrated Arrays: From Microwave to IR." The Charles Wilts Prize is awarded every year to a graduate student in Electrical Engineering for outstanding independent research.