Caltech Connect 2014, Caltech Alumni Association

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Caltech connect 2014

Caltech Connect 2014 Edward M. Stolper

Heather Dean (BS ’00, MS ’00)

Interim President and Provost, Caltech

President, Caltech Alumni Association

Letter from the Presidents In March, a small project team announced a landmark discovery in cosmology. As you undoubtedly heard in the news, BICEP2 detected the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation, which holds that less than a millisecond after the Big Bang the universe expanded abruptly. What you might not realize is that BICEP2 originated at Caltech and JPL under Andrew Lange—the late Goldberger Professor of Physics—and Jamie Bock, professor of physics. Jamie is a co-principal investigator on the BICEP2 project, as are two former postdocs of Lange’s; several current affiliates and recent Caltech graduates are also among their coauthors; and Paul Steinhardt (BS ’74), one of this year’s Distinguished Alumni, contributed to the theory underpinning the project. This is another example of the phenomenon that continues to intrigue people about Caltech: How does such a small institution continue to create such outsized impact? In fact, the Times Higher Education, which again ranked Caltech first among the world’s universities, investigated that question for a cover story it published in February. The conclusion will not surprise you: The factors driving Caltech’s extraordinary success seem quite simple: it stays deliberately small, resolutely interdisciplinary, exceptionally selective when hiring, and maintains a flat, flexible management system. But these observations don’t tell the whole story. After all, the impact that any university has on the world really happens through its people, especially its students, and alumni—you. In this issue of Caltech Connect, you will discover ample evidence of Techers’ far-reaching accomplishments. You will encounter Martin

Karplus (PhD ’54), the Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry at Harvard and a recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry; Richard Miller (PhD ’76), the founding president of Olin College of Engineering; Iram Parveen Bilal (BS ’04), a Pakistani filmmaker; and Steven Sogo (MS ’89), a high school teacher who inspired a student to follow his lead and attend Caltech. All found that their Caltech education and experiences were instrumental to their success. You will also read about a recent roundtable—hosted by Jacqueline Barton, chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering—in which some Caltech alumnae who were part of the first classes to admit undergraduate women sat down to reflect on their own experiences and on the progress of women in the sciences. Participants celebrated the successes of alumnae such as France A. Córdova (PhD ’79), who was recently sworn in as director of the National Science Foundation. Not only do alumni achievements magnify Caltech’s impact, they can also enhance your own. The Caltech Alumni Association, in partnership with Caltech, works to help you realize the full potential of your network, personally and professionally. We encourage you to become more involved. Sincerely, Edward M. Stolper

Interim President and Provost, Caltech

Heather Dean (BS ’00, MS ’00)

President, Caltech Alumni Association

Caltech Alumni Association Board 2013 – 14 Heather Dean (BS ’00, MS ’00)

President Sam Foster (BS ’98) Vice President Lee Fisher (BS ’78) Treasurer Dave Tytell (BS ’99) Secretary Jim Simmons (BS ’72) Past President

Michelle Armond (BS ’00) Debbie Bakin (BS ’86) Chris Bryant (BS ’95) Jasmine Bryant (BS ’95) Milton Chang (MS ’65, PhD ’69) Megan Greenfield (BS ’04) Lonnie Martin (BS ’69, MS ’70) Carol Mullenax (BS ’89) Phil Naecker (BS ’76) Nicola Peill-Moelter (MS ’93, PhD ’97) Anneila Sargent (MS ’67, PhD ’77) Michelin Sloneker (BS ’95) Tom Workman (BS ’86, MS ’87, PhD ’92) Caltech Alumni Relations Alexx Tobeck

Executive Director, Caltech Alumni Association, and Director, Alumni Relations Patsy Gougeon Associate Director, Alumni Relations Phil Scanlon Associate Director, Alumni Relations Ben Tomlin Associate Director, Communications Andrea Rule Alumni Relations Coordinator Sherry Winn Membership Coordinator

caltech connect 2014


signals 2 The 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards 6 This year’s recipients highlight the breadth of fields in which Caltech graduates have gone on to become leaders—ranging from cosmology to higher education, and from aerospace to biomedicine.

Remembering a Milestone 14 More than four decades after the first women graduated with bachelor’s degrees from Caltech, they are still blazing trails.

5 Myths about Networking for Techers 20 A Nobel Legacy 26 Four decades ago, Martin Karplus (PhD ’54) helped to usher chemistry into the computer age. Last fall, he earned the Nobel Prize.

Taking the Bite out of Snakes Chemically 28 How a small high school project about cobra venom led to a published paper and a Caltech connection.

Bridging Worlds 34 After screenings around the world, Pakistani filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal (BS ’04) returns to Caltech to speak about her first feature.

Game Theory, Austen Style 36 Could Jane Austen have been a social scientist? Michael Chwe (BS ’85) thinks so.

Pushing the Envelope 37 Niniane Wang (BS ’98) codes a new market for handcrafted independent art.

NEWSMAKERS 38 Double Take 40 Caltech Strikes Again

In Memoriam



It amazes me that our little band of intrepid scientists, students, postdocs—all of whom I consider colleagues and friends—could build a machine that could actually tell us about the birth of the universe.” Jamie Bock

Professor of physics and co-principal investigator with BICEP2.

Sunrise over the BICEP telescope at the South Pole. In March, researchers announced the project had discovered direct evidence of inflation. Read more in the June issue of E&S.

Alumni Year in Review

Reunion Weekend and Seminar Day

May 16–19, 2013 More than 1,200 alumni and guests returned to campus for Alumni Reunion Weekend and the 76th annual Seminar Day.

“Had a great time talking in that crazy outsized wedding cake that is Beckman Auditorium at Seminar Day 2013.” Adam Steltzner (MS ’91) @steltzner Phase Lead and Development Manager, Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent, and Landing Team, JPL

Presidential Search Committee Speaks with Alumni

May 23, 2013 The Caltech Presidential Search Committee discusses the search process and fields questions in a live panel and webcast exclusively for alumni.


Photo: Steffen Richter, Harvard University, courtesy of the National Science Foundation

caltech connect 2014

Ditch Day

Tour of Bell Labs

May 24, 2013

Jun. 6, 2013

Tomorrow is today.

Alumni in the New York Tri-State area are offered an exclusive tour of the venerated Bell Labs.

From Pulsing Planets to Exploding Stars

Jun. 21, 2013 Professor of Astronomy Greg Hallinan discusses Caltech’s new generation of radio telescopes, which can image the entire viewable sky every second with alumni in San Diego



Caltech Creates Athletic Hall of Honor At a ceremony held during reunion weekend, the Institute proudly inducted 10 individuals and one team into the newly created Hall of Honor.

Universities like Caltech are the

Phil Conley (’56)

Fred Anson (’54) – Basketball C. Alan Beagle (’70) – Wrestling, Football Phil Conley (’56) – Track and Field, Football, Basketball Glenn Graham (’26) – Track and Field Lynn Hildemann (’80) – Swimming and Diving, Volleyball Fred Newman (’59) – Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer Celia Peterson (’81) – Cross Country, Track and Field Dick Van Kirk (’58) – Basketball, Football, Track and Field Angie Bealko (’96) – Basketball Tom Gutman – Head coach for the wrestling (1966 – 78) and football (1968 – 79) teams The 1969 – 70 Wrestling Team

best place to do basic scientific research. Our work at DARPA would not be possible without the larger research and development ecosystem that exists around us.”

Addressing the major challenges we face as a country, and a world, depends not on science alone, but on marrying science with the approaches of other disciplines. We need to reach out to those who would become our next generation of scientists and engineers, to let them know how exciting these careers are.”

Arati Prabhakar

(PhD ’85 and Distinguished Alumna ’95) DARPA Director, speaking to Caltech alumni at a special event in Washington, D.C. in September, 2013

France A. Córdova

(PhD ’79 and Distinguished Alumna ’07), who was sworn in as the director of the National Science Foundation in March

Alumni Year in Review

Jean-Lou Chameau Departs

Texas Caltechers

Jun. 30, 2013

Jul. 27, 2013

“Serving Caltech has been the experience of a lifetime and a privilege I will always cherish.”

Texan Caltechers gather in Austin’s Zilker Park for BBQ and fun.

After serving seven years as Caltech’s president, Chameau became president of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

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Caltech on Top Three Years In a Row For the past three years, Caltech has sat atop the rankings of the world’s universities published by the Times Higher Education. In January, the magazine published an in-depth look at the Institute, asking the question, “How does a tiny institution create such outsized impact?”

“The factors driving Caltech’s extraordinary success thus seem quite simple: it stays deliberately small, resolutely interdisciplinary, exceptionally selective when hiring, and maintains a flat, flexible management system.”

The Top 10 The scores of the top 10 universities, as ranked by the Times Higher Education.

1 Caltech


2 Oxford


2 Harvard


4 Stanford




6 Princeton


7 Cambridge


8 UC Berkeley


9 University of Chicago


10 Imperial College London 87.5

For more on the rankings, scores, and methodology,

Tour of White Labs

Jul. 31, 2013 Alumni get a lesson in beer making from yeast supplier White Labs in San Diego.

It will be a privilege to work closely with faculty, students, ALUMNI, staff, and trustees to explore new opportunities, building on Caltech’s storied accomplishments.” Thomas F. Rosenbaum

President-elect, who assumes office in July

Alumni College: Translational Medicine

Silicon Valley: Summer Culinary Celebration

Aug. 24, 2013

Aug. 31, 2013

Noted Caltech researchers at the cutting-edge intersection of science and medicine speak about their work to more than 150 alumni and guests.

The CAA hosted a culinary event with Tom Mannion, director of student activities and programs, for alumni in Hillsborough, CA.


distinguished Alumni Awards the

Illustrations: Mary Frances Foster


caltech connect 2014

CALTECH RECOGNIZES SIX OF ITS GRADUATES, WHO HIGHLIGHT THE BREADTH OF FIELDS IN WHICH CALTECH GRADUATES HAVE GONE ON TO BECOME LEADERS—RANGING FROM COSMOLOGY TO HIGHER EDUCATION, AND FROM AEROSPACE TO BIOMEDICINE. First presented in 1966, the award recognizes a particular achievement of noteworthy value, a series of such achievements, or a career of noteworthy accomplishment.




James S.W. Wong (PhD ’65) Chairman, Chinney Holdings Ltd. Honorary Professor of Mathematics, University of Hong Kong

For substantial contributions in mathematics and commercial enterprise. Wong’s extensive scholarly research has focused on oscillation theory of differential equations. As an entrepreneur, he transformed his family business into a leading international investment company.

James Wong was a young professor of mathematics at the University of Iowa in 1972 when he received word that his father was in critical condition. Wong scrambled for a flight back to his family home in Hong Kong. He arrived only to find that his father had died, casting into doubt the future of the successful construction company he had built and presided over. Now, Wong’s family turned to him. Wong had first come to the United States in 1958 to study physics and mathematics at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He was drawn to Caltech by the presence of Professor Qian Xuesen, one of the founders of JPL and widely regarded as the father of the Chinese rocket program. At Caltech, Wong studied mathematics under H. F. Bohnenblust, known for his theorem of complex vector spaces. “On the first day of his class, he posted a list of the twelve students,” Wong recalls. “Because of my last name, I wasn’t surprised to see myself at the very bottom.

My philosophy in business, academia, and in life rests on three foundations: truth, fairness, and freedom. I have been fortunate in that they have served me well.” “Then Bohnenblust said: ‘It’s not alphabetical. You’re ranked last.’” Wong laughs. “But he was an excellent teacher who inspired me to work very hard.”

Wong credits Caltech for teaching him how to tackle unsolved problems. He also recalls a strong friendship with fellow colleagues, among them Turing Award winner Donald Knuth (PhD ’63) and former Intel luminary Albert Y. C. Yu (BS ’63). After receiving his PhD, Wong enjoyed early success as a mathematician, earning posts at several universities including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Iowa. Although he was reluctant to leave the life he’d built in the United States, Wong nevertheless decided to return to Hong Kong in 1973 and assume the leadership of his father’s business. Over the next four decades, he led its transformation from a regional construction company into a reputable real estate developer and building contractor. Today the Chinney Group manages assets totaling $2 billion and employs 2,000 people around the world. Throughout, Wong has continued his mathematical research. He has held adjunct professorships at several universities in Hong Kong and published more than 150 papers—cited in excess of 3,000 times—many focusing on oscillation theorems in linear and nonlinear differential equations and functional analysis. “While devoting significant energies to the business world, James Wong has been a remarkably prolific researcher who has made substantial contributions to mathematics,” says Thomas Soifer, chair of the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy at Caltech. “He’s clearly never lost the passion and joys of scholarship.” “My philosophy in business, academia, and in life rests on three foundations: truth, fairness, and freedom,” Wong says. “I have been fortunate in that they have served me well.”

Caltech Degree PhD ’65 Mathematics Current Titles Chairman, Chinney Holdings Ltd. Honorary Professor of Mathematics, University of Hong Kong Sample of Achievements Chairman of the Chinney Group, which manages assets totaling $2 billion and employs 2,000 people around the world Published more than 150 scholarly papers—cited in excess of 3,000 times. Primarily focused on the oscillation theory of differential equations Professor or advisor with three universities in Hong Kong Member of the Board of Directors at the Fields Institute in Toronto Associate Editor, Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong

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Mary Baker (MS ’67, PhD ’72)

President, ATA Engineering Inc.

For pioneering entrepreneurship and leadership in aerospace. Baker founded ATA Engineering Inc., a prominent, employee-owned prov ider of analysis and test-driven design solutions for mechanical and aerospace systems.

When JPL needed to test whether its car-sized rover Curiosity, with its complement of advanced cameras, sensors, and tools, would be able to withstand the landing and harsh conditions of the Martian surface for its two-year mission, it turned to Mary Baker and her company, ATA Engineering. “There was no test flight on Earth that could confirm the landing would work on Mars,” says Baker. Instead, rigorous testing was conducted inside computers, using models and processes developed by Baker and her team. For more than three decades, Baker has been at the leading edge of engineering design, testing, and analysis. Baker earned her PhD in applied mechanics at Caltech, where she studied the fluid mechanics of

Many engineers believe that you have to make a choice between an academic career or a big company. We have discovered a wonderful place in between, where you can still do research and find solutions to real-world problems that make a difference.” blood as part of J. Harold Wayland’s bioengineering group. Soon after leaving Caltech, she switched to space applications. In 1977, she joined Structural Dynamics Research Corporation (SDRC), an early pioneer in computer-aided design and analysis, which she helped adapt to the unique needs of the aerospace industry. Eventually, Baker went to work for NASA.

When the space agency began work on the International Space Station in the 1980s, it needed to share the evolving design with all of its centers and contractors around the globe. “NASA needed to be able to integrate all disciplines important to the design,” says Baker. “Our multidisciplinary approach greatly increased communication, shortened the time between iterations, and led to higher performance configurations.” SDRC continued to play a significant role in a number of NASA projects, offering design support for the Space Shuttle and shuttle-recovery efforts. Its methods and tools quickly spread into wide use, so much so that the company eventually began to morph into a software firm. In 2000, Baker led the friendly spin-off of a new company, ATA Engineering Inc., which has continued to provide award-winning design, analysis, and testing to the aerospace industry as well as other industries that face complex engineering challenges. The company is also unusual in that it is entirely employee owned. “No one owns more than 3 percent of the company, and every full-time employee gets a share of our annual distribution,” says Baker, now the firm’s president. Baker led ATA’s involvement with the Curiosity rover. The company performed thousands of computer simulations of the landing phase to see how well the rover’s six wheels could handle a possible rough or uneven landing site. In 2013, ATA received NASA’s George M. Low Award for technical and business excellence in 2012. “Many engineers believe that you have to make a choice between an academic career or a big company,” Baker says. “I believe that we have discovered a wonderful place in between, where you can still do research and find solutions to real-world problems that make a difference.”

Caltech Degrees MS ’67, PhD ’72 Applied Mechanics Current Title President, ATA Engineering Inc. Sample of Achievements and Awards At SDRC, implemented solidmodeling methods used in the design of the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle, and the shuttlerecovery program At ATA, provided advanced analysis and support to the Mars Science Laboratory and James Webb Space Telescope ATA named one of the top small workplaces in the US by the Wall Street Journal Most Innovative Employee-Owned Award given to ATA from the National Center for Employee Ownership and the Beyster Institute at UCSD’s Rady School of Management Awarded by NASA Small Business Subcontractor of the Year, 2010 Thomas H. May Legacy of Excellence for Outstanding Subcontractor Performance, 2011 George M. Low Award for Quality and Excellence, 2012



Paul J. Steinhardt (BS ’74)

Albert Einstein Professor in Science and Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science, Princeton University

For seminal contributions to theoretical physics and cosmology. A mong his many achievements, Steinhardt developed new inflationary models of the universe, advanced the theory of quasicrystals, and discovered the only known naturally occurring quasicrystals.

A distinguished theorist at Princeton, Paul Steinhardt is perhaps best known for two of his main interests: cosmology and quasicrystals. His cosmological contributions have shaped our understanding of the early formation of the universe. In the early 1980s, Steinhardt attended a lecture giv-

New experimental technologies, new discoveries, new ways of teaching and sharing information—these are all the earmarks of exciting times.” en by Alan Guth, who proposed the theory of cosmic inflation—the idea that soon after the Big Bang, the universe underwent a burst of exponential expansion. “It was a really stunning talk,” Steinhardt recalls. “Then suddenly it took a turn—Guth explained that at the very end his theory failed because once inflation starts, it never ends.” Steinhardt tackled the problem and in 1982, together with his graduate student Andreas Albrecht, he proposed the first successful working model. Inflation became the dominant study of early cosmology, but with little observable evidence, researchers could only theorize. Concerned by various flaws, Steinhardt later proposed an alternative known as the cyclic model. Then, in March of this year, astronomers found the strongest evidence yet to support inflation. Researchers at BICEP2, part of a program that originated at Caltech in 2002, announced that they acquired the first direct evidence that gravitational waves rippled through our infant universe—which the inflation theory predicts.

Whether or not BICEP2 solves the riddle, Steinhardt is optimistic that a full theory to explain the origins of the universe is within reach. “The data on both a macro and micro scale points to a universe that is very simple,” he says. Then there’s Steinhardt’s other interest: quasicrystals—a term he coined 30 years ago. The name refers to a new phase of solid matter with symmetries previously thought to be impossible. The laws governing crystal formations state that they can possess symmetries in only two, three, four, and six folds. Quasiperiodic crystals (or quasicrystals for short) broke those laws entirely. In the early 1980s, Steinhardt and Dov Levine developed the first working theory for how these “impossible crystals” could exist. At the same time, independent researcher Dan Shechtman spotted quasicrystal formations in an aluminum alloy in his lab and in 1984 published his findings (for which he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011). Numerous examples have since been found, but only in the lab. Steinhardt called on colleagues to help locate naturally formed quasicrystals and in 2007, mineralogist Luca Bindi at the University of Florence spotted such a fragment in his collection. The search for the rock’s origins led to the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia. There, Steinhardt and his team—with the help of his son William Steinhardt (BS ’11), who majored in geophysics—discovered more samples, which they theorize came from a meteorite impact long ago. To this day, the fragments are the only known ones to have naturally occurring quasicrystal formations. “I’m very optimistic about the future of science,” Steinhardt says. “New experimental technologies, new discoveries, new ways of teaching and sharing information—these are all the earmarks of exciting times.”

Caltech Degree BS ’74, Physics Current Title Albert Einstein Professor in Science and Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science, Princeton University Sample of Achievements and Awards Proposed the first successful working model of cosmic inflation in 1982 Advanced the theory of quasicrystals in 1984 Led the discovery of the first—and to date only—naturally occurring quasicrystal Recipient of the Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society in 2010 for his contribution to the theory of quasicrystals Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics at Princeton; Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard; and Moore Fellow at Caltech Author of over 200 articles, six patents, two patents pending, three technical books Co-authored Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang, 2007

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Richard K. Miller (PhD ’76)

President, Olin College of Engineering

For v isionary leadership and commitment to innovation in engineering education for the benefit of society. As the founding president of Olin College, Miller led the creation of a new institution recognized for its unique teaching methods and models.

When Richard Miller was first approached by the F. W. Olin Foundation in 1998 to explore the possibility of working on a new academic venture, he took the meeting as a courtesy. Then he heard the board members’ adventurous plan—to create a new engineering college from scratch. “I felt like I had prepared my entire career to be presented that challenge,” Miller says. Miller started out as a structural engineer, earning his PhD from Caltech in applied mechanics in 1976. His research focused on how to make buildings more resistant to earthquakes by placing them on flexible foundations. “It was a bold idea, first proposed by one of my professors at MIT, that you could unbolt a building

We believe that Olin’s approach is an effective complement to other timetested methods of engineering education. We see this not just as a college—but a cause.” from the ground and let it slip as the earth moved,” said Miller. “At Caltech, I was encouraged by Bill Iwan [Professor of Applied Mechanics, Emeritus] to pursue it. Today, there are many buildings that incorporate similar concepts.” Miller went on to faculty positions at UC Santa Barbara and USC and over time, he became increasingly fascinated by a different type of structure—that of the curriculum itself—and concerned by what he felt were missed opportunities. Disciplines were segregated, and experimentation with the curriculum

was slow to take hold (though he points out that those issues have long since been remedied). As an engineer, he understood that the construction of a building required the understanding of a number of factors such as physics, geology, or even social behavior. Could you not, using similar integrated principles, engineer an education? Miller spent the next two decades experimenting, first at USC and then as dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa, where he implemented a number of well-received innovations. Then the call came from the Olin Foundation. Miller was so enthused by the challenge that in 1999, he became Franklin W. Olin College’s president and first employee. Today, Olin boasts a state-of-the-art campus outside of Boston. After only eight graduating classes, the school has emerged as one of the nation’s top-performing engineering programs, gaining notoriety for its innovative teaching methods and sought-after alumni, many of whom continue at schools such as Caltech, Harvard, and MIT, or are snapped up by leading tech firms. Miller credits Olin’s success with its inquiry-based model that gets students working on projects right away. “Engineering is problem solving. We start by asking our students, ‘Whom do you want to help? What needs do they have?’” he says. “Then we get them designing solutions and learning.” “Miller has led the creation of a top-tier engineering school from scratch,” says Paul Jennings, Professor of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Emeritus and former Caltech provost. “What he has accomplished is truly exceptional.” Miller has taken engineering education and—like the buildings he once researched—unbolted the foundation in order to adapt to a shifting world.

Caltech Degree PhD ’76, Applied Mechanics Current Title President, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering Sample of Achievements and Awards Founding president and first employee of Olin College National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education, 2013 Member of the National Academy of Engineering, 2012 Engineering Legacy Award, College of Engineering, University of Iowa, 2006



Richard H. Scheller (PhD ’80) Executive Vice President, Research and Early Development, Genentech

For seminal work and leadership in biological sciences. A mong his many achievements, Scheller identified mechanisms of neurotransmitter release. Now at Genentech, he oversees the development of basic research into new treatments for human disease.

Richard Scheller remembers the book that inspired him to attend Caltech, The Structure and Action of Proteins by then–faculty member Richard Dickerson. “I was quite taken with the book, which had these gorgeous illustrations by Irving Geis,” says Scheller. “Dickerson described structure and how it related to function with such clarity: I knew that I wanted to work with the person who wrote this book.” After completing his undergraduate degree, he did just that. Joining Dickerson’s lab, Scheller collaborated with Arthur Riggs and Keiichi Itakura of the leading research hospital City of Hope to synthesize DNA and proteins in order to study their interactions. Their successful research attracted the attention of Herb Boyer and Bob Swanson, who were starting the company Genentech with the aim of turning bacteria into tiny factories to produce proteins and hormones like insulin, which could be administered to humans.

It’s an extremely exciting time in medicine. To unblind a trial and see cancer patients whom you were treating live longer because of your medicine is a pretty rewarding endeavor.” “Genentech was just the five of us working in labs at the City of Hope, University of California–San Francisco, and Caltech,” says Scheller, who acquired 15,000 shares of Genentech stock for $300. When the company went public in 1980, he made $1.1 million overnight but kept his position as a Caltech research fellow and his attention on basic research.

Scheller went on to become a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University, where he conducted seminal research to identify the key elements governing neurotransmitter release. That nerves conduct tiny electrical impulses had long been understood: When a person wants to move a muscle, an electrical impulse travels down the nerve to the end point. Making the jump from the nerve to the muscle is a bit more complicated. The nerve releases tiny chemical messengers—neurotransmitters—which, in turn, act on the muscle, causing a contraction. Neurotransmission happens at phenomenal speed, fast enough for you to yank your hand off a hot iron. Through his work, Scheller shed light on the molecular underpinnings of the process, for which he won the 2013 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. “It’s easy to explain muscle as an example, but it’s much more than that,” Scheller says. “Neurotransmission is the basis of how we think, how we remember things, our consciousness, pretty much everything.” After 20 years at Stanford, Scheller rejoined Genentech in 2001, which had grown to become the world’s largest supplier of cancer medicines, with $13 billion in U.S. revenue alone. Scheller is now the executive vice president for research and early development, responsible for overseeing research from initial discovery to proof of concept. “It’s an extremely exciting time in medicine,” Scheller says. “To unblind a trial and see cancer patients who you were treating live longer because of your medicine is a pretty rewarding endeavor.” Scheller remains as dedicated to basic science— and to Caltech—as ever. “The kind of work being done at Caltech is really the basis of the discoveries that translate into medicines of the future,” he says.

Caltech Degree PhD ’80, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Current Title Executive Vice President, Research and Early Development, Genentech Sample of Achievements and Awards Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, 2013 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience, 2010 Member of the National Academy of Sciences, 2000 Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1998 National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology, 1997 More than 250 publications

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David E. Chavez (BS ’96)

Principal Investigator and Project Leader, Los Alamos National Laboratory

For his extensive and groundbreaking contributions to chemistry. Chavez created versatile new synthetic compounds and processes that advanced the development of high-nitrogen energetic materials, which are now being used for applications in a wide variety of fields.

Every night, Disneyland showcases technology based on the work of David Chavez. Several years ago, the theme park decided to respond to complaints from neighbors about the fumes from its fireworks and called on the noted chemist to create a solution. In response, Chavez helped formulate a compound that meant more color and less smoke. His nitrogen-enriched pyrotechnics not only burned more cleanly, but they also led the way to the dazzling displays seen at major events from the Olympics to the Super Bowl. Throughout his career, Chavez has made groundbreaking contributions to chemistry. His high-nitrogen compounds have produced more environmentally friendly explosives and propellants, which have become important to the nation’s armed forces. In 2011, the Department of Energy honored him with the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award. This places Chavez in a select group of Caltech stalwarts that includes Richard Feynman. Chavez grew up in Taos, New Mexico—a small town with more in the way of arts than sciences. So even though he was skilled in math and interested in astronomy, Chavez recalls “it was hard to get a real sense of what it was like to be a scientist or an engineer.” That changed after his sophomore year of high school, when he was chosen to take part in a

Synthesizing new molecules often has an artistic quality to it. You can shape atoms into arrangements never before seen in nature.”

summer science program at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The mentorship he received, and the classes and tours he took, ignited his passion for his future career. The program was also where he first heard about Caltech, from one of the Institute’s graduate students who was serving as an instructor. As his high school graduation approached, Chavez knew where he wanted to study next. “My most important research experiences at Caltech were with Erick Carreira,” Chavez says of his second-term organic chemistry professor. Carreira was not only influential as a teacher and research leader, but he also helped Chavez apply to graduate school—even calling department heads on his behalf. Chavez ended up pursuing his doctorate at Harvard. Armed with his Caltech training and PhD from Harvard, Chavez went back to Los Alamos as a postdoctoral fellow. “The position gave me a lot of freedom to pursue what I wanted rather than having to work on any specific project,” he says. In addition to innovations that brighten the sky, Chavez’s efforts have made military duty safer by improving weapon systems. He still works at Los Alamos, currently as a principal investigator and project leader. “Synthesizing new molecules often has an artistic quality to it,” Chavez says. “You can shape atoms into arrangements never before seen in nature." Despite his busy schedule, Chavez finds time to mentor young people, paying back the support he received as a student. “I believe that it’s important to nurture that same sense of curiosity [I had], of always wondering how things work,” says Chavez. “A number of people helped to instill it in me, and now I see it in my own children. It gives me great hope for the future.”

Caltech Degree BS ’96, Chemistry Current Title Principal Investigator and Project Leader, Los Alamos National Laboratory Sample of Achievements and Awards New Trends in Research of Energetic Materials Conference, Science Committee, 2013 Environmental Stewardship Award, National Nuclear Security Administration, 2012 Los Alamos National Laboratory Spark Award, 2012



Remembering a Milestone

Flora Wu (BS ’73), Stephanie Charles (BS ’73), Sharon Long (BS ’73), and Deborah Chung (BS ’73) were the first women to earn undergraduate degrees at Caltech.

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More than four decades after the first women graduated from Caltech, they are still blazing trails.

In 1970 Caltech opened its doors for the first time to undergraduate women. This year, Caltech celebrates the graduation of those pioneers, who went on to forge new paths across science, technology, and engineering. Jacqueline Barton, the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Division of

The Panel moderator:

Jacqueline Barton Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor of Chemistry; Chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Sharon Long (BS ’73) Professor of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

Rhonda L. MacDonald (BS ’74) Former Director of Structures and Mechanisms Products, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

Chemistry and Chemical

Louise Kirkbride (BS ’75, MS ’76)

Engineering, speaks with five

Cofounder of CADRI and Answer Systems

alumnae who were among the first women to graduate from the Institute about their time

Lauretta Carroll (BS ’77) CEO, Practice Today

at Caltech, their experiences

Suzanne Shea (BS ’79)

in the decades that followed,

Cofounder and Executive Vice President, Praxis Engineers

and the role of women in the sciences today.



Barton First of all, let me say that it’s an honor to speak with you all. Each of you was part of a class of pioneers. I’m curious to know why you chose Caltech, knowing that it had only just begun to accept women. MacDonald I was interested in math and wanted to attend a school where I could try some engineering courses, I was attracted to Caltech for the same reasons many are—its reputation for excellence in science and engineering, its small size, and its excellent faculty-to-student ratio. My high school guidance counselor actually tried to cancel my interview with a Caltech professor because, he said, “You will be going to Smith College.” I told him that I was interested in engineering and that I would be going forward with the Caltech interview. Long I loved science as a child; I

collected rocks and minerals and especially enjoyed chemistry. I first read about Caltech in Reader’s Digest and fell in love with its culture and tradition of pranks. I just thought, “What a creative, imaginative, and interesting place.” Kirkbride Once I heard that Caltech was the hardest school to get in to, it was irresistible. Harry Gray [Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry] actually interviewed me. You usually think of scientists being so stuffy—but I couldn’t imagine a more engaging, dynamic person. After I met him, I would have crawled over broken glass to get to Caltech.

Shea My mother first tried to dissuade me, warning me that I was heading in a direction where there would not be very many women, which would be tough. I said: “I know. I think it’s going to be part of my job in life—to be one of the first women in these fields.” When I made my choice, she was very proud of me attending Caltech, and extremely supportive. Carroll I was a product of the Los Angeles public school system in 1972, when it was really in disarray and we joked that it was a feat just to graduate without a criminal record. I had my sights set higher. To be placed at Caltech was a real achievement, of which I’m very proud. Barton So when you arrived at Caltech, did you feel different? Were you aware of being the first women on campus? Kirkbride You were certainly aware that this was a momentous change for Caltech, yes. Most of the campus was very supportive, but there were some rough edges—some professors, including my first advisor, who voiced their opposition. Long You heard some rumblings that people considered it an experiment—and that if the experiment didn’t work, they would just “undo it.” But these changes were happening at many campuses, and we knew there really was no going back. Carroll My first advisor said, “Well, Carroll, you know you have

Long I agree—there were so many who supported us. I remember Elsa Garmire, who was a research associate in physics. She helped to organize a series on women in science, bringing in outside speakers such as [the Columbia physicist and winner of the Wolf Prize] Chien-Shiung Wu. That was so important and is to Caltech’s credit.

“I came to grips with myself at Caltech because I had to, and maybe I wouldn’t have if I had been someplace else.” Sharon Long (BS ’73) wrote in an essay for E&S in 1973 to pass AMa 95 [now ACM 95/100],” in such a way that I knew he doubted that I would. I found that unfortunate, but in a strange way, it made me stronger. I became absolutely determined to do the work—and I did very well. Barton Despite some of the doubts and opposition, each of you stayed and stuck it out. What drove you? Kirkbride You had to expect some of that resistance. But at the top, the Institute was completely committed to and accepting of us. [Former Caltech President] Harold Brown was very supportive, and his help meant a great deal. Carver Mead [Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus] was just tremendous. He was the reason I got out of astrophysics and into electrical engineering.

Barton Were there other mentors who helped you? Shea Robert Cannon [then chair of Engineering and Applied Science], was hugely supportive. He was very interested in advances in undergraduate education at the time and so was enthusiastic about finding ways to have more women at Caltech. I really benefited from that. MacDonald Rolf Sabersky [Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus] was my undergraduate advisor at Caltech. He was there for me through thick and thin. When my mother had to sell her business due to her poor health, we weren’t sure how we would pay for Caltech. He stood ready to help in any way needed so that I could continue. Barton What were some of the early experiences and challenges you faced as women once you went out into the professional world? Carroll I went into a very small group at Hughes Aircraft that was filled with nothing but Caltech

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graduates—so it was just like being on campus. It was a very special and supportive environment. MacDonald My first job was in structural engineering in the petrochemical industry, at a company where I was the first woman engineer. I had to buck some silly company dress codes—women had to wear dresses—which were impractical for visiting job sites and steel fabricators. At one time, my salary significantly lagged behind those of my male peers. I provided my supervisor with current salary data and said that I expected the inequity to be rectified or I would have to seek employment elsewhere. The adjustment to my salary was made, and I never faced inequitable compensation again. Carroll Wow. You were lucky. That didn’t happen for everyone. Kirkbride I went to work in aerospace. I remember a lead engineer said he “simply wouldn’t work with a woman.” I just sat there in his room cooling my heels. A lot of this sounds outrageous today—but that’s the way the world was. I didn’t necessarily feel that people were evil; they were products of their time. You just had to push on. Shea I completely agree. The fact that some people wouldn’t work with me led me to start my own company with a colleague, combining my expertise in computer and controls with his in the energy field. We created our own work environment and set our own standards for professionalism.


A Caltech degree ends all discussion about whether you’re competent or not. Period. If you are interested in science and engineering, I don’t think you can do any better.” ~Louise Kirkbride (BS ’75, MS ’76)



Barton I’ve noticed confidence is often a big issue for the many young women who come through my lab. Did Caltech help you to achieve more confidence? Did it help to have the Caltech imprimatur? Kirkbride I certainly think so. I took one year off to work for the Burroughs Corporation in Santa Barbara, where I learned just how highly my peer engineers regarded Caltech. When you’re inside the Caltech bubble, you don’t understand how respected the Institute is. It opened so many doors. It just put to bed any questions about my competence.

Carroll The way I look at it:

If someone finds out you went to Caltech, their opinion of you changes. If they don’t know about Caltech—then your opinion of them changes. Barton Many people say that “Caltech teaches you how to think.” Do you agree? Long Absolutely! Caltech gave me a foundation in how to think through problems. If a question is important enough, then I have both the hunger and the confidence to go back to fundamental principles and solve it. Barton What is your sense of where women are today in science and engineering?

Patricia Tressel (BS ’74) examines circuitry with Carver Mead (BS ’56, MS ’57, PhD ’60), the Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus

Kirkbride Statistically, Caltech still lags a bit behind our peer institutions in the number of applications from women. But when you look nationally, studies indicate that once women are admitted to college, they graduate with a higher rate than the men do. We need to persuade more talented and ambitious young women to consider Caltech. Carroll Personally, given my

background, I would like to see more women of color at Caltech. I think we could do better there: Because if we’re interested in raising women, then we want to see all women succeed and flourish—both at Caltech and in science as a whole. MacDonald Beyond Caltech—

I’d say women have made inroads in a number of scientific areas. But in many other fields such as mechanical, electrical, and aeronautical engineering, women still represent only a small percentage of the number of contributors. I’d love to see more women take on the technical challenges in these exciting industries. Barton How do you maintain your connections and your involvement with Caltech? MacDonald There are numerous opportunities to stay connected and involved with Caltech. I’ve been heavily involved through the Caltech Alumni Association, the Caltech Associates, Caltech’s Gnomes, and the Caltech Y. It gives me great pleasure to support an undergraduate schol-

arship, since I greatly appreciate the financial aid that Caltech made available to me during my undergraduate years. Kirkbride I now serve as a trustee. Caltech was a formative experience for me, and I’m grateful for the leadership of those who pushed the Institute to open its doors to women, making it possible for me to attend. I think it’s important to stay involved and help shape Caltech for future generations. Barton Would you recommend Caltech to aspiring female scientists and engineers? Carroll Oh, absolutely. One

hundred percent. Long The knowledge and content that you get from any school or major is going to be of some use, but its usefulness will vary. Caltech teaches you the courage and discipline to work through things you don’t know. That endures a lifetime. Shea That’s true. The ability to tackle new problems, break things down, start from first principles, apply what you’ve learned to different disciplines—it’s incredibly powerful and was one of the greatest things that I got from Caltech. Kirkbride A Caltech degree ends all discussion about whether you’re competent or not. Period. If you are interested in science and engineering, I don’t think you can do any better.

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omen at caltech today

I chose Caltech because I wanted to be surrounded by the most brilliant people of my generation… and I find myself in the most interesting and fascinating discussions about ideas I’ve never considered.

“At Caltech, I am not a merely a “female scientist.” When I walk through the doors of the lab, I leave my gender, race, and sexuality behind. The experiments don’t care who is running them, so why should anyone else? I am a scientist first.”

“Caltech has always been my dream school. There is a great amount of mutual respect. The faculty trusts you to be mature. You can be yourself and pursue your own passions.” ~Sandra Fang (BS ’14)

~Jen Karolewski (BS ’15)

~Ellora Sarkar (BS ’16)

I came to Caltech to be challenged academically. To my surprise, I have also been challenged to be an activist, promote good relationships with others, and thoroughly enjoy everything I do.”

Photos: Stephanie Diani, Lance Hayashida, Ben Tomlin

~Amarise Little (BS ’16)



5 Myths about Networking for Techers


Photo: Dustin Snipes

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When Bobby Johnson (BS ’98) was the director of engineering at Facebook, he was responsible for growing the social networking site from hundreds of thousands of users to nearly one billion, and in the process, hiring a team of engineers to do it. His favorite people to recruit? Techers.

When Bobby Johnson (BS ’98) was the director of engineering at Facebook, he was responsible for growing the social networking site from hundreds of thousands of users to nearly one billion. And he needed to hire a team of engineers to do that. His favorite people to recruit? Techers. “I loved hiring fellow graduates from Caltech, regardless of their specific majors,” says Johnson, who branched off in 2013 to start his own company, Interana. “I knew how they were trained to think.” The problem was that he had trouble finding enough graduates to fill the ranks of his team. When Johnson organized networking socials—which overflowed with engineers in Palo Alto eager to hobnob with Facebook insiders— few Techers turned out. Johnson knew that when he could make contact with Caltech graduates, it was often a great fit. Why, then, did it seem difficult to make that first connection?

“For whatever reason, I think there’s a kind of stigma amongst Techers against professional networking,” Johnson says. “Maybe it’s that we’re introverted by nature, maybe we’re focused on the work. We tend to think, ‘Oh, networking is something business majors do. Not us.’ But experience has taught me that no matter the industry or how qualified you are, you still need to leverage your contacts. You have to jump in.” Does the old and clichéd adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” really apply to the sciences, where the bar for required knowledge and competence is set so high? Techers boldly tackle problems that change the world. Solving the challenge of your own career requires another set of skills that may feel foreign, but with a little effort, can be acquired. We asked alumni for their opinions and experiences. Here, in no particular order, are five common Techer preconceptions about networking.

Illustration: Park Jeong Ho

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2 1

A Caltech degree can work as well as networking.

Good work speaks for itself. “We’re trained to focus on our work” says Debbie Bakin (BS ’86). “If we’re rigorous about our work, then the thinking is it will help you to land the next job.” There can be no denying that the quality of one’s work product is essential to unlocking future career opportunities. But how will the right people find out about your work? “Good work is certainly important,” says Elayne Chou, a career consultant in the Bay Area who advises a number of academic clients, including graduates from Caltech. “But to have the most effect, that work needs to be presented at the right moment.” Managers hire because they are looking for a certain skill set to address a need, Chou explains, and no matter how good the portfolio—it must still reach the right person at the right time. Search for people in your area of expertise and learn about their priorities, then find appropriate ways to make them aware of your own work and how it addresses their needs. Rather than assume they will make the connection, count it as your job to do it for them.

There can be no doubt that a Caltech degree is a mark of significant accomplishment. “One of the things that makes Caltech special is that it is, in many ways, a meritocracy. We had to do so much to earn our degree. It’s evidence not just of our training but also our determination,” says Johnson. “For those who know—it speaks for itself.” But it can be difficult to know exactly how well a hiring manager understands the specifics of an institution, or to what degree they value education versus other factors like work experience. The advantage of a Caltech degree is the ability to solve difficult problems. Discover the problems that hiring managers are trying to solve, and then educate them on how you—using the methods learned at Caltech—can best help them find the solution. And your degree offers another benefit—access to a broad network of fellow alumni who are placed in positions to help. Like Johnson, there are people looking specifically for Caltech graduates. Rather than waiting and hoping for them to find you, make it your role to find them.

3 People don’t want to hear me talk about myself. “I think that, as Techers, one of the things we prize is authenticity,” says Dave Tytell (BS ’99). “Which may be why many of us tend to shy away from ‘selling’ ourselves.” Here’s a fact: networking is uncomfortable for most people. Some worry that by communicating their accomplishments, they may sound boastful or arrogant. “There is an art to speaking up such that others recognize your valuable contributions,” says Chou, who recommends focusing on how your work benefits others. “That’s a way of taking the focus off you and relating it to your work.” Practice helps you gain comfort. It may help to think of career networking like research. If a couple of experiments don’t yield the results hoped for, it’s not time to declare the entire theory invalid. Rather, take the opportunity to learn what didn’t work and refine your methods. “You won’t develop your ability to appropriately self-promote unless you do it regularly,” says Chou. Small, regular interactions can make a big difference. Share information on your projects, ask advice from colleagues, or drop a note just to catch up. Chou advises setting a goal to meet at least one new person per quarter to broaden your base.

4 I don’t know enough people. One of Caltech’s distinguishing features is its incredibly selective student body. Once in the marketplace, however, many Techers observe that larger schools have very broad professional networks. It’s easy to feel eclipsed sometimes. But the same advantages that make Caltech a superb place to study also amplify the power of its alumni network. First, there are fewer degrees of separation. “Caltech’s alumni community, which numbers more than 23,000, has an outsized impact on science, academia, industry, and society relative to its size,” says Heather Dean (BS ’00, MS ’00), president of the Caltech Alumni Association. The smaller population means that there are often just one or two degrees of separation between a new graduate and an alumnus/a who is a recognized leader within his or her chosen field. Second, the strength of ties between contacts is often tighter. “There’s a real sense that we were in the foxhole together,” says Tytell. “And even if I didn’t know you personally, I know your experience.” As a result, Techers often express a willingness to be of assistance to fellow graduates. “It’s not just about having a high volume of contacts,” says Dean. “It’s about having the right ones. Most Techers will find that they are uniquely positioned to make meaningful—and actionable—connections very quickly.”

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5 My contacts will be annoyed if I ask for help. One of the larger challenges many Techers express with networking is the fear of imposing. “Rather than asking for a job, it can be more comfortable—and more successful—to ask for information or advice,” Chou advises. Not sure where to start? The Caltech Alumni Association, in partnership with the Career Development Center, launched a new online mentorship initiative on LinkedIn: the CHAT Network (Career Help: Ask a Techer). “More than 16,000 Caltech alumni are registered on LinkedIn. But it can be hard to know whom to approach,” says Alexx Tobeck, executive director of the Caltech Alumni Association. “The CAA is committed to helping Techers connect professionally. We created this dedicated group to make reaching out as easy as possible.” By joining the group, alumni agree to respond to requests for advice from fellow alumni and current students. “It’s not necessarily the place to ask for a job,” says Lauren Stolper, director of fellowships advising, study abroad and Caltech’s Career Development Center. “But it’s a good opportunity for Techers to learn more about a field of work, get recommendations, and expand their field of contacts.” “The hardest part about networking is knowing where to begin,” says Dean. “The CHAT group is a great place to start. ”

NEED CAREER HELP? ASK A TECHER. Whether you’re looking for advice—or have guidance to give—join the Caltech Alumni Association’s dedicated career advice network on LinkedIn. Look for alumni displaying this green badge, then go ahead and ask. You’ve got the green light. a l u m n i . c a l t e c h . e d u /c h a t




A Nobel Legacy Martin Karplus (PhD ’54) Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Martin Karplus with Linus Pauling in the 1960s.

When Martin Karplus (PhD ’54) received the phone call at five o’clock in the morning last fall, his first reaction was “something must have gone wrong.” Far from it. Karplus, the Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry at Harvard, was one of three scientists awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the prize of 8 million crowns ($1.25 million) to Karplus, Michael Levitt, and Arieh Warshel for pioneering work on computer programs that simulate complex chemical processes. The modeling of chemical reactions was once done using plastic balls and sticks. Karplus, Levitt, and Warshel laid the foundation that moved it into the computer age. Karplus, born in Austria in 1930, was a child when his family fled the country’s Nazi occupation, immigrating to the United States. He received a BA from Harvard University in 1950 and a PhD in chemistry from Caltech in 1954, where he worked with two-time Nobel Laureate and distinguished Caltech professor of chemistry Linus Pauling. “Pauling would often drop notes on little yellow sheets saying ‘wouldn’t it be interesting to do so-and-so?’,” Karplus recalled. “He wouldn’t necessarily expect you to do them. You could throw them away or keep them

Alumni Year in Review

DALE: Dynamic Augmented Living Environment

Thomas F. Rosenbaum named Ninth President of Caltech

Oct. 11, 2013

Oct. 24, 2013

Alumni gather in Orange County to tour DALE—Caltech and SCIArc’s entry into the Solar Decathlon, a house that actually opens on tracks to let in the environment.

“We were impressed by his scientific achievements and deep dedication to undergraduate and graduate education,” said Fiona Harrison, chair of the Faculty Search Committee.

The Big Island, Hawaii

Nov. 10 – 16, 2013 Caltech alumni journey to the Big Island to tour the Keck Observatory, the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, and Volcanoes National Park with Caltech geology professor (and 2013 Feynman Teaching Prize recipient) Paul Asimow (PhD ’97).

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Photo: Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

to work on. A number of people built their careers on his ideas.” Karplus credits Pauling for teaching him about the importance of intuition in research and encouraging him as a young researcher to explore life’s fundamental processes at the most basic levels. After Caltech, Karplus went on to investigate complex chemical reactions, which were generally understood at the molecular level. To learn what happens at the atomic scale, however, computers were needed to perform mathematically intense quantum theoretical simulations, and Karplus, Levitt, and Warshel helped to bridge those models, offering researchers tools to gain a complete view of such interactions at all levels. “My early chemistry colleagues thought [that using computers] was a waste of time,” Karplus said. “Now it has become a central part of chemistry and structural biology.” Today, computers generate simulations that are so realistic, they predict the outcome of traditional experiments. “This year’s recipients have done important computational and mechanistic work on protein and enzyme catalysis,” said Rudolph Marcus, the Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry at Caltech and the 1992 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. “That Karplus was a student of Pauling brings the prize this year close to home.”

Game Night

Nov. 16, 2013 Gamers descend upon Alumni House, choosing from more than 100 board games for a night of strategy, cunning, and competition.

Salon with Sébastien M. Candel (MS ’69, PhD ’72)

Dec. 5, 2013 Alumni gather in Paris to converse with Sébastien Candel, Professeur des Universités, École Centrale Paris, and a recipient of Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award, 2013.

Home for the Holidays

Dec. 18, 2013 Alumni host students back for the holiday break in seven regions: Boston, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Silicon Valley, New York.



Taking the Bite out of Snakes

e h C

c mi

y l al

How a small high school project about cobra venom led to a published paper and a Caltech connection

“What do you know about snake venom?”

Samantha Piszkiewicz (BS ’14) remembers being asked the question, how it caught her off guard, filled her with excitement and terror, and ultimately helped to set the course of her life. It was 2008, and Piszkiewicz was starting her junior year of high school. Her chemistry teacher, Steven Sogo (MS ’89), was recruiting for his advanced chemistry class and searching for students who might have a gift for research. Even more—he was on the hunt for ideas. Piszkiewicz has always had a thing for snakes. Perhaps it’s the contradiction. Snakes are nature’s minimalists, with streamlined bodies free of appendages. This makes them appear vulnerable, but they can be lethal

predators, commanding respect within the animal kingdom and striking fear in many of us humans. Maybe it’s that Piszkiewicz sympathizes. Her friends call her “Pixie” for short, a play on her Polish name (pronounced Pis • KAY • vitch) and the fact that she has a slight frame, which she balances with a sharp edge. Piszkiewicz has a quick intellect, a biting sense of humor, listens to punk rock, and prefers to wear combat boots and torn Steve Sogo (MS ’89) and Samantha Piszkiewicz (BS ’14) on the campus of Laguna Beach High School. In 2013, Sogo’s lab published their synthetic antibody research in ChemComm, a rare feat for a high school. Piszkiewicz, a student when the project started in 2008, was listed as lead author.


Photo: Ben Tomlin

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jeans, all of which serve like the colored stripes of her favorite animal—signals not to take her lightly. “I’ve always felt that snakes are misunderstood,” Piszkiewicz says. Her mother helped her adopt a pet snake when she was 13. For some teenagers, that might have been enough, but Piszkiewicz has a deeply curious mind. Watching an episode on the channel Animal Planet, she learned that cobra venom was a chemically complicated poison. “I was just so fascinated by the mechanics of how it worked. I wanted to know more. So on my application to chemistry class, I said, ‘I want to study snake venom.’” She was surprised by how quickly her teacher responded, and how intensely interested he was in the idea.

“The idea was to create a real research lab,” Sogo says. Initially, he tasked students to investigate known problems, such as how to isolate theobromine (the active ingredient in chocolate) from cacao beans and how to remove sulfur dioxide from the atmosphere, acquiring new skills and understanding as they went. “The point wasn’t to discover anything new, but to become comfortable with research techniques in a high school environment. The answers were out there, but as long as it was new to them and new to me—it was research.”

A New Kind of Chemistry Class

Steve Sogo had become frustrated by his chemistry curriculum. After earning his master’s at Caltech in 1989, he discovered a love of and talent for teaching, and eventually arrived at Laguna Beach High School, nestled in an upscale enclave known for its quaint beaches, trendy shops, and vibrant arts scene, and popularized by—perhaps unfairly—the mid-2000’s MTV show Laguna Beach. “There was definitely a stereotype back then about Laguna kids being rich and shallow,” Piszkiewicz says. “But the people I knew growing up were creative, hardworking, and smart.” In fact, the high school is regarded as one of the best in the state, earning a coveted gold medal ranking from U.S. News & World Report. Sogo’s students performed well in science placement exams and regarded him as a direct, exacting, and caring instructor. But after a few years, he began to think that his AP chemistry program might be lacking. “The type of students who did well knew how to memorize facts and take tests, but they weren’t necessarily good scientists,” Sogo says. “I wanted to teach a class that rewarded curiosity, experimentation, and the risk of failure.” So in 2007, Sogo received a grant from a local foundation to develop an inquiry-based program, which he modeled on his experiences at Caltech.

“We call them ‘plastic antibodies,’” Shea explains. “They are synthetic particles designed to have antibody-like characteristics, which can be used in therapeutics, diagnostics, or the purification of macromolecules.” In other words, Shea’s particles could latch onto and clean out other unwanted molecules, much like natural antibodies. One of his first applications, in 2008, was to create a particle that could target the peptides in melittin, the bee-venom toxin. “I was struck by how easy it was to make,” Sogo recalls. Shea’s recipe called for readily available components: commercially distributed monomers—molecules that react chemically to other molecules of the same type to form a larger one—and relatively inexpensive lab equipment. Shea agreed to lend his support and teach Sogo’s students how to create their own synthetic antibodies. But an antibody to do what? That’s when Sogo read Piszkiewicz’s application and learned about her interest in cobra venom.

The Spitting Cobra

The first years were encouraging. The students seemed to enjoy their new roles as researchers—Sogo observed that his more inquisitive students were inspired by their assignments, just as he had hoped. It wasn’t long before he started to expand his ambitions. What if they explored truly new questions? Could his high school students produce original research? They just needed an idea, a problem to solve. A colleague introduced Sogo to Ken Shea, a professor at nearby UC Irvine, who was doing some exciting work in synthetic chemistry. Shea had developed new processes for molecular imprinting—a technique used to create nanoparticles capable of recognizing organic molecules and proteins.

The Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja mossambica) is a venomous snake native to the savanna regions of Africa. When cornered, it is known to bite or raise its head, open its hood, and, as its name suggests, “spit” its venom—up to eight feet away. The venom is a noxious cocktail of small protein toxins, cytotoxins, and cardiotoxins (CTX), which break down the walls of cells, destroying them, and can inhibit communication within the nervous system, inducing heart and respiratory failure. “Cobra venom has evolved to wreak havoc on living cells—completely destroying them,” Piszkiewicz explained. The mechanics work at the molecular level, where the snake toxin proteins are arranged such that they can latch onto certain receptors lining a healthy cell membrane. Think of a key in search of a lock. Once they gain access, the proteins initiate their destructive sequence of events, interfering with normal cell functions or causing the destruction of cell membrane walls. “The idea with the anti-venom is to prevent the toxin proteins from making their connection,” Sogo says.

Illustration: Taleen Keldjian


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how to make a synthetic anti-venom 1

Start with a sample of venom The cytotoxin proteins active in cobra venom are isolated to create a template.


Add a mixture of monomers The researchers then add a selection of monomer particles, in this case acrylamides, which have an affinity for certain receptors along the toxin protein.

3 Coax them to combine Through electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions, the acrylamides bind to the protein receptors. They then covalently bond with one another.

4 Remove the template The toxin protein template is then separated. The result: a new nanoparticle uniquely shaped to fit live toxins.

5 Synthetic antibody When encountering the snake’s toxin, the synthetic antibody binds with the proteins, effectively surrounding them and shielding the host from harmful effects.




If the venom proteins are like a key, the process to create the anti-venom is a bit like a locksmith creating a mold. First, the student researchers took a sample of CTX proteins and mixed them with acrylamide monomers; then they coaxed them to interact with each other until the acrylamides formed new particles that fit snugly around the toxin proteins. Using dialysis, the toxins were then separated out, leaving behind the nanoparticle “mold” neatly shaped to fit specifically with other toxin proteins. To test the results, the researchers then incubated samples of cobra venom with pig blood. Left unchecked, the cytotoxins in the venom would break down the blood membranes, causing them to leak hemoglobin. You could actually see the results with the naked eye— as the hemoglobin leaked out, the samples would gleam a brilliant red. Next the researchers laced blood samples with their synthetic anti-venom at different dosages. They then added the cobra venom and observed the interactions. As they hoped, the nanoparticles bound with the proteins in the venom, making it impossible for them to latch anywhere else and cause destruction. Chemically speaking, the synthetic antibodies put a muzzle on the toxins. “The first result we got was so beautiful and encouraging,” Piszkiewicz says. “We saw 85 percent to 95 percent inhibition of cell destruction.” “You could see it worked. There was no redness, the cells looked so healthy and happy. More than we could hope for,” Sogo says.

Sharing the Findings

That summer, Piszkiewicz and a fellow student documented their work and submitted it to the Siemens Competition, one of largest and most prestigious science competitions in the country. “I was sitting in the library obsessively hitting the refresh button on the website,” Piszkiewicz recalls. “I almost didn’t recognize my name when I saw that we had made the regionals, which were to be held at Caltech.” “That was a nice plus,” Sogo says. “It was like a homecoming of sorts, a chance to

The anti-venom at work: Three tubes containing samples of pig blood laced with cobra venom and—from left to right—increasing levels of the synthetic anti-venom (0.6, 1.2 and 2.4 mg/mL of nanoparticles respectively). The redness is caused by hemoglobin leaking out from cells, evidence of the cobra venom at work. The sample on the right, with the highest dosage of nanoparticles, is visibly more healthy.

Alumni Year in Review

Open Access Policy

Caltech Career Summit

Jan 1, 2014

Feb. 22, 2014

Caltech adopts new policy, through which all faculty members will automatically grant nonexclusive rights to the Institute to disseminate their scholarly papers, making wider distribution of their work possible.

Alumni returned to campus to network and learn how they can further their professional careers. The Alumni Association launches a new mentoring subgroup on LinkedIn (see p. 20).

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show off the research, and also to introduce these talented students to a place that was formative for me.” Piszkiewicz was hooked by the experience. “Here I was—just a kid—presenting to a dozen Caltech professors. It was intimidating,” she says. “But they spoke to us like peers. They treated the work we had done as professional.” The experience made such an impression on Piszkiewicz that she went on to enroll at Caltech, where she is now a senior majoring in chemistry. In the meantime, Sogo continued to work on the snake-venom project. “I kept thinking ‘we have this terrific data, let’s do something

with it. Maybe publish in a small journal,’” Sogo says. Shea encouraged him to think more ambitiously and submit to ChemComm, produced by the Royal Society of Chemistry, considered one of the field’s leading journals. Over the next four years, new classes of Laguna students carefully refined the procedures from the original experiments, documented their findings, and sent them in to ChemComm for review. Last summer, Sogo received word that it had been accepted—a significant achievement for any lab and a rare honor for a team of high school researchers. Piszkiewicz was listed as lead author.


“It’s still hard to imagine that my first published project as lead author is for work I did when I was 16,” Piszkiewicz says. Graduating this May, Piszkiewicz plans to pursue her PhD in biophysics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and dreams one day of leading her own research lab. “I couldn’t be more proud. I wouldn’t be the researcher—or the person—that I am today without that class.” “I think what Sogo and his students have accomplished is truly remarkable,” Shea says. “They weren’t published just because they were high school students—they made a valuable contribution to the field and are to be commended. They are a model for other high schools.” For his part, Sogo is already dreaming of the next project, perhaps one day moving the cobra anti-venom into testing in live animals. Whatever the path, he relishes the ability to practice science. “I had thought that perhaps when I became a high school teacher, some avenues would be closed to me,” Sogo says. “Now I find that I get to run a lab, choose projects, and teach students how to research.” And perhaps that’s where Sogo’s real success lies. In addition to creating an anti-venom—he is helping scientists like Piszkiewicz to discover themselves.

Teacher’s new pet: In 2010, Piskiewicz (third from right) and her fellow classmates presented Sogo (left) with a certificate of adoption for a Mozambique spitting cobra housed at a reptile rehabilitation center in South Africa.

The Molecular Programming Project

Volunteer Conference

Feb. 24, 2014

Mar. 6, 2014

Richard Murray (BS ’85) details to alumni in San Francisco how he and fellow researchers at Caltech are designing DNA sequences to create new molecules, and in the process, invent a new research discipline.

Volunteer leaders from across the country gathered on campus to connect, share about what’s happening in their regions, and inspire new ideas.



Bridging Worlds Iram Parveen Bilal (BS ’04) After screenings around the world, filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal (BS ’04) returns to Caltech to speak about her first feature, Josh: Against the Grain. Following Caltech, Iram Parveen Bilal traversed disciplines to become a filmmaker and activist. For her first feature, Bilal returned to her home country of Pakistan to film Josh: Against the Grain, a mystery thriller set in Karachi. The award-winning film comments on class structure, social movements, and patriotism in Pakistan. Since its first showing in Mumbai in 2012, the film has screened around the world. Bilal speaks about her unique story, and the surprising connections she finds between science and art. Caltech Alumni Association What was it like to attend Caltech as an international student? Iram Parveen Bilal I came to Caltech when I had just turned 17. It was a huge culture shock. I remember going back home after the first term and saying “I want to transfer out,” because it was really hard. I was alone and had no family in the US. But I was used to facing tough odds, and then I try to win people over. It’s just how my life has been. And Caltech is the kind of place that if you rise to the challenge, it makes you stronger. I eventually found my place at Caltech. CAA How did you make the leap from engineering to filmmaking?

And now I’ve gotten to a point where I think, “You don’t have to know all the classic films in order to be a filmmaker. You have to make films.” That’s not arrogant; I just feel like I have my own point of view now. CAA Tell us about the film. IPB I was working on a documentary about Benazir Bhutto [the 11th prime minister of Pakistan] when I heard about a woman who runs food kitchens in Karachi. My producing partner at the time also wanted to make a documentary about her, but I I felt Pakistan had enough documentaries—I wanted to make a fiction film. The script eventually evolved into something different, but that was the genesis.

Josh is a mystery thriller set in Karachi that follows an upper-class woman who becomes determined to find out what happened to her missing caretaker. Her journey takes her to a nearby village run by a feudal lord and in the process endangers herself and others. The story tackles themes of feudalism, youth movements, poverty, and the challenges of trying to do good amidst social unrest. CAA What was it like to film in Pakistan?

IPB I got into USC and I didn’t know what

In Bilal’s film Josh, Aamina Sheikh (right) plays Fatima, whose search for a missing woman stirs unrest in a Pakistani village run by a corrupt feudal lord.

I was in for. Being this kid who had grown up on Bollywood, and then sitting alongside classmates talking about Citizen Kane, I had this steep learning curve.

IPB It was tough because there was no infrastructure for film really. There were no equipment houses where you could easily rent. I had access to resources in the US. But as a


Photo: Dustin Snipes

caltech connect 2014

Pakistani, I was tired of people coming in with foreign crews only to leave. So we took a lot of local media students and trained them. After we wrapped, a lot of films started shooting, hiring many of the crew members we trained. I’m proud that Josh is at the forefront of a new Pakistani wave.

moment of real humility. I thought, “I had no idea where this story would go and here it is actually translating into change. Here are all these women who are going to be feeding their kids and they have no idea or care who I am. They just want their food ration bags.” That’s the power of story.

about emotions, is so similar. You’re absorbing from the world around you. Your evidence is the people you interact with. And then you put forth a hypothesis, which is a character in this environment and this circumstance. What happens? On that level, I feel that writing is very similar to research.

CAA How have audiences responded to

CAA You started in science, but transi-

the film?

tioned to art. Do you see any connections between them?

CAA What advice can you offer current Caltech students?

IPB When our film was screened in Melbourne,

one audience member was so moved by the story of the food kitchen—and the woman who was the genesis of the film—that he launched a fundraiser. He solicited donations from around the world, enough to provide food for a 140 families in Pakistan. I was able to go and helps distribute the food. It was a powerful

IPB Both science and art are really about

curiosity of the world, and curiosity of human behavior. I think that in making a film—just like in science—your gut instinct is very important. The research that you go through when you’re writing a screenplay, when you’re thinking about characters, and when you’re thinking

IPB I think when one comes to an institute like Caltech, it’s important to give yourself space and the leverage to study a variety of things. Try and strive for as balanced of an education as you can get here and to expose yourself to as diverse an environment as you can. You never know what will ultimately resonate the most with you.


Social Science

Game Theory, Austen Style In his book Jane Austen, Game Theorist, Caltech alumnus Michael Chwe—now a professor of political science at UCLA— makes the case that the beloved author was a careful observer of strategic thinking. Chwe first became intrigued by the idea while watching the film Clueless, the 1995 adaptation of Austen’s novel Emma. “I never took a literature class at Caltech, much to my

Could Jane Austen have been a social scientist? Michael Chwe (BS ’85) thinks so.

detriment,” Chwe laughs. “But when I read Emma, I was struck by how Austen carefully crafted scenarios that mirrored modern strategic thinking.” Chwe contends that more than 100 years before the mathematician John von Neumann established game theory as a discipline for studying conflict and cooperation, Austen was already on the case. Take Emma’s Emma Woodhouse, who tries to play matchmaker be-

tween the simple Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton, the village vicar. Emma’s attempts at manipulation backfire when Mr. Elton turns out to have intentions toward Emma herself. In this case, Chwe says, Emma falls into a classic trap—overconfidence in her own strategic powers. And that, Chwe believes, is the point. “Austen’s novels do not simply provide ‘case material’ for the

game theorist to analyze,” Chwe writes in his book. Rather, he says, the novels as a whole are “an ambitious theoretical project, with insights not yet superseded by modern social science.” Austen has been famously known for questioning the barriers between social classes. But with Chwe’s help, we can now see that she crossed another divide—­the one between art and science.



Photo: Dave Lauridsen


caltech connect 2014


Pushing the Envelope When Art and Science at Caltech Intersect We couldn’t get a photo of Michael Chwe and Jane Austen together. So we introduced him to a couple of her characters—with a little help from TACIT (Theatre Arts at Caltech). Meg Rosenburg (portraying Emma, right) is earning her PhD in planetary science, studying lunar topography. “I was also involved in Theater at MIT. It’s helped me to become less introverted and to have confidence explaining and defending my own work.” Kelvin Bates (Mr. Elton, left) is studying for his PhD in environmental chemistry under Brian Stoltz. “A good idea doesn’t always occur to me in the lab. My involvement in the arts helps to give me perspective.”

Niniane Wang (BS ’98) CTO, Minted

How do you crowdsource independent artists to grow a global business? Niniane Wang (BS ’98) hacked the code.

To you, it’s a card for your mother’s birthday. But to Niniane Wang, it’s a social-media canvas. Wang is the chief technology officer at Minted, a social-commerce company that discovers artists and graphic designers, curates their creations through online competitions, and then connects them with customers who can personalize these designs to their own tastes and have them produced in the form of such items as wedding invitations, framed art, and more. “The first challenge was to create tools that any artist can use in any browser,” says Wang. “Then they need to maintain pixel-perfect fidelity when

creating a high-resolution print file.” The resulting artwork is then submitted to competition, where Wang’s team applies customized algorithms to weight audience responses. This, Wang says, leads to a tighter connection between the artist and customer, as well as to a collection of products that emerge as a cohesive brand. Wang has always felt most comfortable at the intersection of technology and art. After graduating from Caltech at the age of 18 with a degree in computer science, she began her career in games, earning notice for her innovative graphics work on Flight Simulator, Microsoft’s popular game for Windows. Wang then moved to Google, where she led the team that integrated ads into Gmail. She took advantage of the company’s famous “20 percent time”—which encouraged engineers to pursue personal projects—and created Lively, a popular web-based virtual environment often compared to Linden Lab’s Second Life.

At Minted, Wang now concentrates on helping artists sell their designs in the physical world. Since its founding in 2007, the company has grown into a global artistic community that has caught the eye of the business world. This past fall, Minted announced that it had raised $41 million in financing and formed its first retail partnership with the home-decor company West Elm. “I love building technology to enable self-expression,” Wang says. “It’s important to focus on something you love. You do your best work that way.”



NEWSMAKERS The challenge is no longer how to generate vast amounts of sequencing data. Now we need to effectively collect, manage, and interpret the information in ways that make it useful and—above all— private and secure.”

Walter Munk (BS ’39, MS ’40) received the Roger Revelle Medal from UC San Diego in honor of his lifetime achievements as an oceanographer. Alfred G. Knudson Jr. (BS ’44, PhD ’56) was recognized by the American Association for Cancer Research for scientific contributions that have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. Harold Rosen (MS ’48, PhD ’51) received a lifetime achievement award from Aviation Week & Space Technology for his pioneering work in satellites. Cleve B. Moler (BS ’61) received the University of New Mexico’s Presidential Award of Distinction in recognition of his development of MATLAB. Michael Rosbash (BS ’65), director of the Brandeis National Center for Behavioral Genomics, was awarded the 2013 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine. Lon E. Bell (PhD ’68) was appointed to serve on the board of directors of Clean Diesel Technologies Inc., a company that develops applications to reduce engine emissions. John Chen (MS ’79 and Caltech Trustee) became the CEO of BlackBerry.

John Quackenbush (BS ’83) The Harvard professor and founder of GenoSpace, a network that enables complex genomic and clinical data to be securely shared with a broad range of researchers, was honored by the White House as an Open Science Champion of Change.

Liew-Chuang Chiu (BS ’79, MS ’80, PhD ’83) was named general manager of Optics Business at EMCORE Corporation, a provider of semiconductor and fiber-optic products. France A. Córdova (PhD ’79) was sworn in as the director of the National Science Foundation. Deborah A. Levin (PhD ’79) was named a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Paul D. Ronney (MS ’79), professor in the department of aerospace and mechanical engineering at University of Southern California, joined Cyclone Power Technologies as an advisor. Ernest Chung (PhD ’80) has been elected chairman of the California State Park and Recreation Commission. Robert F. Murphy (PhD ’80) joined the scientific advisory board for Cernostics, a developer of next-generation cancer diagnostic tools. Philip J. Hanlon (PhD ’81) took office as the 18th president of Dartmouth College. Richard C. Willson III (BS ’81, MS ’82) joined the advisory board for Actium Biosystems, a cancer-treatment research firm focused on nanotechnology, material science, and electromagnetic energy illumination. T.E. “Ed” Schlesinger (MS ’82, PhD ’86) was appointed dean of the Whiting School of Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. Charles A. Wight (PhD ’82) became 12th president of Weber State University. Ellen D. Williams (PhD ’82) was nominated by President Barack Obama to become director of Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Andrew L. Berkin (BS ’83) joined Bridgeway Capital Management as director of research. Gregory E. Chamitoff (MS ’85) was appointed the Lawrence Hargrave Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Sydney.

caltech connect 2014


Understanding how past ecologies adapted and changed may yield us valuable clues into our ecology today. And—presented with new changes to the environment, how it might adapt again.”

C. Kevin Boyce (BS ’95) The Stanford paleobotanist won a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship for his work on the evolution of plant life.

Photo: courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Jeffrey Freymueller (BS ’85), professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, was awarded the school’s Emil Usibelli Distinguished Research Award. Brent Iverson (PhD ’88) was appointed dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Texas. James L. Burleigh Jr. (BS ’89) became the COO of Engine Yard, a cloud-based software-platform provider. Laurie Leshin (MS ’89, PhD ’95) was named the new president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. David A. Kaufman (MS ’90, PhD ’95) was named vice president and general manager of the national-defense strategic business unit for Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Raymond M. Sidney (EX ’91) was appointed to the board of xG Technology, a developer of wireless-communications technologies. Robert L. Behnken (MS ’93, PhD ’97) was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Washington University.

Derek Surka (BS ’94) led his team to capture the 2013 USA Curling Mixed National Championship. Erik Holmlin (PhD ’98) joined the board of Nanosphere Inc., a developer of a platform to conduct highly sensitive nucleic acid and protein testing. Duncan Odom (PhD ’01), professor at the University of Cambridge, was awarded the Francis Crick Lecture by the Royal Society in recognition of his work in the field of comparative functional genomics. Vivek M. Chandran (BS ’03) launched Whisk, a car-service app.

John Dabiri (PhD ’05) was named Caltech’s Dean of Undergraduate Students. Viviana Gradinaru (BS ’05) won the National Institutes of Health Director’s Award. Ben A. Mazin (PhD ’05), assistant professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, developed a superconducting detector array that measures the energy of individual photons. Premal S. Shah (PhD ’05) was appointed vice president of business development for Applied Proteomics Inc., a developer of protein diagnostic tools.

Geoff M. Galgon (BS ’09) received a $250,000 award from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the development of an infant drug and nutrient delivery device for use in lowresource settings ( Cole Hershkowitz (BS ’11), Ka Suen (BS ’12), Sam Jones (BS ’13), and Subhonmesh Bose (BS ’12) won second place in the western finals of a recent Department of Energy business-plan competition for their startup, Chai Energy. Elaine Y. Hsiao (PhD ’13) won the National Institutes of Health Director’s Award.



Double Take Think you know what that mug or sign says? Take another look. Caltech mischief is alive and well.


Caltech Connect 2014


Pasadena Sign

Ben Tomlin

Early in the morning on New Year’s Day, a group of Caltech students displayed their civic pride by erecting a 2,000-square-foot sign in view of the Rose Bowl that spelled Pasadena... until the sun went down. During the game (in which Stanford lost to Michigan State), 6,300 orange lights flipped on to spell something different.


Contributing Writers:

Alisha Adams Susan Wampler Copy Editor:

Carolyn Waldron Photography:

Lance Hayashida, Dave Lauridsen Greg Izatt Julie Jester Stephanie Mitchell Steffen Richter Dustin Snipes William Steinhardt Ben Tomlin


Illustration Photos: Greg Izatt, Will Steinhardt

During campus preview weekend at MIT, a group of Techers handed out these unassuming black mugs to admitted students. Pour hot coffee in, and the cup’s color shifts to orange revealing “Caltech: The Hotter Institute of Technology.”

We know pranks are one the most time-honored traditions at Caltech. They allow us to dream, work collaboratively, and blow off steam. Knowing that we have so many alumni behind us may lead to some of our biggest feats yet.” ~Julie Jester (BS ’14), Prank Club President

Mary Frances Foster Park Jeong Ho Tina Karlstroem Taleen Keldjian Design:

The Warren Group | Studio Deluxe Caltech Alumni Association Communications Committee:

Michelle Armond (BS ’00) Lee Fisher (BS ’78) Anneila Sargent (MS ’67, PhD ’77) Dave Tytell (BS ’99)

In Memoriam We mourn the loss of the following members of our Caltech alumni family in 2013 –2014

Francis H. Clauser (BS ’34, MS ’35, PhD ’37) Newton W. Bell (MS ’37, MS ’38) William Freede (BS ’38) Paul C. Siechert (BS ’38) Robert O. Cox (BS ’40) John H. Keyser Jr. (BS ’40) Darragh E. Nagle (BS ’40) Robert Bowles (BS ’41, MS ’42) Alex E. Green (MS ’41) Joseph W. Lewis (BS ’41) Newell Partch (BS ’41) Delbert D. Thomas (BS ’41) Thomas G. Atkinson (BS ’42) Robert W. Goldin (MS ’42) Carter Hunt (BS ’42) Robert L. Moore (BS ’42) Myron Pollycove (BS ’42) Merle Smallberg (BS ’42) Carol Veronda (BS ’42) Edgar P. Williams (ENG ’42 MS ’42) Edward I. Brown (BS ’43) George C. Frey (BS ’43) Arthur H. Gardner (BS ’43, MS ’47) Tway W. Andrews (BS ’44) Willis A. Bussard (BS ’44) Arthur N. Carson (BS ’44) James O. Curtis (CERT ’44, MS ’52) Joseph B. Earl (BS ’44) Lewis O. Grant (CERT ’44, MS ’48) Chia-Chiao Lin (PhD ’44) William E. Lockwood (BS ’44) Donald M. Wyckoff (BS ’44) David C. Banks (BS ’45, BS ’48, MS ’49) Frank Dore (BS ’45, MS ’46, ENG ’47) Richard N. Jasper (BS ’45) Kenneth M. Shauer (BS ’45) C. Arthur Teets (BS ’45) Ralph W. Allen (MS ’46) John H. Altseimer (MS ’46, ENG ’48) Roger Clapp (BS ’46) John E. Fleming (BS ’46) Frank S. Gates (BS ’46) Willard A. Ross (BS ’46) Richard A. Smith (BS ’46, MS ’47) William F. Ballhaus (PhD ’47) John S. Billheimer (BS ’47, MS ’48, ENG ’49) George Gammans (BS ’47) Kenneth F. Holtby (BS ’47) Arnold A. Jensen (MS ’47, ENG ’48, PhD ’51) Robert S. MacAlister Jr. (BS ’47)

Albert H.J. Muelle (BS ’47, MS ’49) Walter M. Ogston (MS ’47) Max Lea Williams (MS ’47, ENG ’48, PhD ’50) Barton C. Wood (MS ’47) J. M. Blair (BS ’48, MS ’49) Donald E. Coles (MS ’48, PhD ’53) Taylor C. Fletcher (BS ’48) Harvey Fraser (MS ’48) Robert Henigson (BS ’48, MS ’49) Henry S. Hitchcock (MS ’48) Richard A. Spellmann (BS ’48) Ferdinand C. Suhrer (BS ’48) Stanley M. Barnes (BS ’49) Warren E. Danielson (BS ’49, ’50 MS, ’52 PhD) Henry Fasola, Jr. (BS ’49) Ronald C. Greene (BS ’49, PhD ’54) John Heath (BS ’49) John C. Kariotis (BS ’49) Henry A. Long (BS ’49, MS ’50) Allen E. Puckett (PhD ’49) Theodore W. Rose (BS ’49) Bernard D. Rudin (BS ’49) Richard A. Wallace (ENG ’49) Donald A. Glaser (PhD ’50) James A. Roddick (MS ’50) Eugene G. Spencer (BS ’50) John D. Wilkes (PhD ’50) Paul L. Armstrong Jr. (BS ’51, MS ’55) Robert S. Kraemer (MS ’51) Gordon E. Latta (PhD ’51) Thomas W. Layton (BS ’51, PhD ’57) Carroll Lindholm (BS ’51) Robert R. Munro (BS ’51, MS ’52) Lauren A. Wright (PhD ’51) Halton C. Arp (PhD ’53) Herman J. Carpenter (MS ’53) David J. Clark (BS ’53) Gene M. Jordan, Jr. (BS ’53) Carl A. Rouse (MS ’53, PhD ’56) David F. Stevens (BS ’53) Glen R. Crabbs (BS ’54) Earl M. Evleth (BS ’54) Gordon Seele (BS ’54) Gilbert L. Beebower (BS ’55) Alvin L. Fehrman (ENG ’55, MS ’55) Conrad Housley (BS ’55) Henry R. Myers (MS ’55, PhD ’60) Samuel Sims (BS ’55) John C. Carney (BS ’56, MS ’57)

Phil Conley (BS ’56) Eastman N. Hatch (PhD ’56) Leonard A. Herzenberg (PhD ’56) Henry J. Nawoj (ENG ’56) Charles B. Ray (MS ’56) John E. Young (BS ’56) Charles G. Fullerton, USAF (BS ’57, MS ’58) Reuben B. Moulton (BS ’57) Harvey H. Horiuchi (BS ’58) Roderic B. Park (PhD ’58) Rowland Richards Jr. (MS ’58) Robert E. Schenter (BS ’58) Walter S. Baer (BS ’59) Francis W. Groesbeck (BS ’59) Fred L. Newman (BS ’59) William F. Greenman (BS ’60, MS ’62, PhD ’67) Dimitri Mihalas (MS ’60, PhD ’64) Richard M. Kimball (MS ’61) Frank T. Snively (MS ’61, PhD ’65) Kenneth G. Wilson (PhD ’61) C. R. Haden (MS ’62) Hans Ludewig (MS ’62, PhD ’66) Stanley B. Mellsen (MS ’62, ENG ’66) Carl M. Rovainen (BS ’62) Warren Teitelman (BS ’62) Chung-Mo Kwok (BS ’64) Jules B. Cohen (PhD ’65) Barry L. Goldberg (BS ’65) Leonard F. Keyser (PhD ’65) Walter A. Scott (BS ’65) Robert M. Bowman (PhD ’66) Andrew J. Kampe (BS ’66) Michael J. Lineberry (MS ’68, PhD ’72) Ting L. Liu (MS ’69, ENG ’71) Richard Pelletier (BS ’71) Greg L. Wojcik (MS ’72, PhD ’77) Donald E. Keenan (BS ’73, PhD ’77) Ross M. Miller (BS ’75) David P. Murdock (BS ’76) John Belliveau (BS ’81) David C. Younge (BS ’82) Seung-Man Yang (PhD ’85) Windsor W. Lin (BS ’88, MS ’89) Phalkun Tan (PhD ’90) Sylvia P.C. Yamamura (BS ’91) Jonathan E. Baker (BS ’94) James G. Heaney (BS ’98) Daniel M. Kleiman (BS ’98) Stephen T. Bannerman (BS ’06)

Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Pasadena, CA Permit No. 523

Caltech Alumni Association MC 1-97 Pasadena, CA 91125

Continue Your Connection • The Latest Science from Caltech • Distinguished Speakers • Professional Networking • Global Trips • Regional Events • Reunion Weekend and Seminar Day

Caltech Alumni Association #caltechalumni

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