News & Events


Lab-Grown Earthquakes Reveal the Frictional Forces Acting Beneath Our Feet


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]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis

Dabiri Receives Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation


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

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Rahul Arun Receives 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


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.

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Microstructures Self-Assemble into New Materials


A new process developed at Caltech makes it possible for the first time to manufacture large quantities of materials whose structure is designed at a nanometer scale—the size of DNA's double helix. Pioneered by Professor Julia R. Greer, "nanoarchitected materials" exhibit unusual, often surprising properties—for example, exceptionally lightweight ceramics that spring back to their original shape, like a sponge, after being compressed. Now, a team of engineers at Caltech and ETH Zurich have developed a material that is designed at the nanoscale but assembles itself—with no need for the precision laser assembly. "We couldn't 3-D print this much nanoarchitected material even in a month; instead we're able to grow it in a matter of hours," says Carlos M. Portela, Postdoctoral Scholar. "It is exciting to see our computationally designed optimal nanoscale architectures being realized experimentally in the lab," says Dennis M. Kochmann, Visiting Associate. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights GALCIT MCE Julia Greer Dennis Kochmann postdocs Carlos Portela

Michael Brown Receives Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship


Junior undergraduate student Michael Brown, studying Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering, has been awarded a Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship. The fellowship recognizes exceptional college juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursuing aerospace careers and includes a paid internship at a commercial space company. Michael will be interning at The Spaceship Company. The Program honors the memory of an engineer, entrepreneur, and extraordinary individual whose passion for commercial space exploration led to great strides in the industry. [2020 class of fellows] [News release]

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Ultrasound Can Selectively Kill Cancer Cells


Professor Michael Ortiz and Professor Morteza Gharib are exploring a new technique that could offer a targeted approach to fighting cancer. Low-intensity pulses of ultrasound have been shown to selectively kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. In the past, ultrasound waves have been used as a cancer treatment with high-intensity bursts resulting in killing cancer and normal cells. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE MCE Morteza Gharib Michael Ortiz

Bionic Jellyfish Swim Faster and More Efficiently


John Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has developed a tiny prosthetic that enables jellyfish to swim faster and more efficiently than they normally do, without stressing the animals. Dabiri is envisioning a future in which jellyfish equipped with sensors could be directed to explore and record information about the ocean. "Only five to 10 percent of the volume of the ocean has been explored, so we want to take advantage of the fact that jellyfish are everywhere already to make a leap from ship-based measurements, which are limited in number due to their high cost," Dabiri says. "If we can find a way to direct these jellyfish and also equip them with sensors to track things like ocean temperature, salinity, oxygen levels, and so on, we could create a truly global ocean network where each of the jellyfish robots costs a few dollars to instrument and feeds themselves energy from prey already in the ocean." [Caltech story]

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Students Receive KPMG Innovation Award


Amanda R. Bouman and Elena-Sorina Lupu, students in Caltech's Center on Autonomous Systems and Technology (CAST) program, receive the 2019 KMPG Innovation Award. The students are recognized for their extraordinary efforts in exploring interdisciplinary research in the field of autonomy.

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Professor Ortiz Receives John von Neumann Medal


Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, is the recipient of the 2019 U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics (USACM) John von Neumann Medal "for pioneering and sustained contributions in developing computational methods to elucidate material behavior across length and time scales (atomistic to continuum), development of the quasi-continuum method, and authorship of highly cited articles." This is highest award given by USACM. It honors individuals who have made outstanding, sustained contributions in the field of computational mechanics generally over periods representing substantial portions of their professional careers. [List of award recipients]

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Professor Ortiz Receives Doctorate Honoris Causa from Polytechnic University of Madrid


Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has received the highest academic distinction from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) in a ceremony chaired by its Rector, Guillermo Cisneros, accompanied by José Manuel Torralba, general director of Universities and Superior Artistic Teachings of the Community of Madrid. Professor Ortiz was recognized as one of the leaders in theoretical and computational solid mechanics. Rector Cisneros stated that the curriculum and life path of Professor Ortiz is "an example of what a true Master - teacher with capital letters - should achieve or at least maintain as a goal. " [elEconomista Coverage]

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