Welcome to the second edition of The Caltech Effect. Explore the unique relationships that inspire Caltech people to achieve the extraordinary. An adviser models unorthodox research. Undergrads evolve from solo stars into team leaders. Postdocs help others at a time when personal achievement is paramount. A junior is encouraged to launch a hedge fund from his dorm room. Real users and industry experts help students invent wheelchair technologies. Astronomers pass the torch of discovery from one generation to the next.
“Caltech has a long history of going after the golden ring—going after the great discoveries—especially if they’re hard and if the payoff is enormous,” declares Kip Thorne (BS ’62), Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus.
After nearly five decades at Caltech, Tom Soifer is still smiling. The former Kent and Joyce Kresa Leadership Chair of the division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy (PMA) continues to advance our understanding of the universe by hunting for dust-obscured galaxies—DOGs—where others can’t see.
After decades of dreaming the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) into existence, nine years of initial operations, and a five-year period spent installing equipment with upgraded sensitivity, LIGO’s Caltech-led research team resumed listening to the universe in May 2015.
To their immense surprise, detection came almost immediately. At 5:51 a.m. EST on Monday, September 14, 2015, the twin LIGO detectors observed gravitational waves.
Welcome to The Caltech Effect—a magazine featuring deep dives, illuminating backstories, and human moments arising from Break Through: The Caltech Campaign. In this issue: A pair of hallway-hopping friends point to an undiscovered planet. A doctor seeks medical breakthroughs where there is no med school. A grad student finds her own scientific playground. A Caltech love story, 46 years in the making. An undergrad’s gift starts with a dance party. Keep scrolling to explore.
Today, Caltech will formally launch Break Through: The Caltech Campaign. This ambitious $2 billion fundraising initiative will enable the Institute to spur the most innovative and promising research, prepare students to become leaders in science and society, and help secure Caltech’s place as an engine of discovery for generations to come.