News & Events
Simulating an earthquake on a miniature scale in a laboratory known unofficially as the "seismological wind tunnel," engineers and seismologists have produced the most comprehensive look to date at the complex physics of friction driving destructive thrust-fault earthquakes. "Simulating earthquakes in a lab lets us observe how these brief and violent events grow and evolve by ‘slowing down' their motion through high-speed photography and optics," says Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. [Caltech story]
Jakob van Zyl, Senior Faculty Associate in Electrical Engineering and Aerospace, passed away on August 26, 2020 at the age of 63. He came to Caltech in 1982 and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1983 and 1986, respectively. He joined JPL in 1986 and retired in 2019 as the Director of Solar System Exploration. He was world-renowned for his research in imaging radar polarimetry. He made pioneering contributions to the design and development of many synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, including SIR-C, SRTM, AIRSAR, TOPSAR, and GeoSAR. He held management roles at JPL including, Director for Astronomy and Physics (2006-2011), Associate Director of Project Formulation and Strategy (2011-2015), and Director of Solar System Exploration (2016-2019). He received many honors and awards, including an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in 2015 for his contributions to space missions, for being a good ambassador for Africa, and for inspiring young scientists and engineers in his home continent. Over the last two decades, he taught EE/Ae 157 Introduction to the Physics of Remote Sensing. He contributed in numerous ways to promote interactions between EAS and JPL.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) honors John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, with the 2020 Alan T. Waterman Award. The Alan T. Waterman Award is given to an outstanding young U.S. scientist or engineer along with a medal and other recognition. "This year's scientific pioneers are innovators who are creatively addressing some of the most challenging scientific questions," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "John Dabiri has looked to the fluid mechanics of sea life for inspiration to build better wind farms that appear to boost efficiency with a much smaller footprint." [NSF story] [Caltech story]
Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace, Yisong Yue, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, postdoctoral scholar Wolfgang Hönig, and graduate students Benjamin Rivière and Guanya Shi, have designed a new data-driven method to control the movement of multiple robots through cluttered, unmapped spaces, so they do not run into one another. "Our work shows some promising results to overcome the safety, robustness, and scalability issues of conventional black-box artificial intelligence (AI) approaches for swarm motion planning with GLAS and close-proximity control for multiple drones using Neural-Swarm," says Chung. [Caltech story]
Chengzhe Zhou, a graduate student in Physics supervised by Professor Sandra Troian, is a recipient of the 2020 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award. His doctorate research focuses on the development of novel theoretical and computational tools for quantifying the nonlinear evolution and control of moving liquid boundaries driven by external fields. He hopes his findings offer new and useful analytic tools for investigating emergent small-scale dynamic phenomena in strongly driven nonlinear systems. The Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award is given to an EAS graduate student in hydrodynamics who has distinguished himself or herself in research.
Daniel Neamati is a recipient of the 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Daniel’s interests sit at the cross-section of mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, and planetary science. Daniel's research includes modern computational techniques in microfluidic analyses, and he has contributed to JPL projects such as the Europa Lander and Mars 2020. In the near future, Daniel plans to conduct a SURF at Stanford, and a senior thesis with Professor Soon-Jo Chung in the Aerospace Robotics and Control Laboratory. Thereafter, Daniel plans to pursue a Ph.D. in control systems in aerospace engineering. 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.
The GALCIT community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Ying-Chu Lin (Y. C. L. Susan) Wu. She was the first woman to receive her PhD in Aeronautics from Caltech in 1963. She joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) and her research area was in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) Power Generation. In 1982 she became the head of the Energy Conversion Programs. She took early retirement from UTSI in 1988 and founded ERC, Inc., an engineering and scientific company. She received many awards and honors including the Faraday Medal for MHD Power Generation, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Plasma Dynamics and Laser Award, and the Achievement Award by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She was a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), associate fellow of AIAA, and Life member of SWE. Dr. Wu received the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.
Mechanical Engineering student Rahul Arun, advised by Professor Aaron Ames and Beverley McKeon, is a recipient of the 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Rahul's academic interests lie at the intersection of theoretical, numerical, and experimental fluid mechanics, with an emphasis on turbulent flows. This summer, he will be working as a SURF fellow under Professor Tim Colonius to conduct fast and adaptive numerical simulations of vortex ring collisions. In the more distant future, his plan is to attend graduate school. 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.
While we may be physically distant, we are trying to keep the KISS community connected. We asked the 2020 KISS affiliates a few questions; check out Sorina Lupu’s responses! Sorina researches docking mechanisms and controllers for in-orbit assembly of spacecraft and is looking forward to visiting family in Romania after social distancing ends.