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.
Charles Zeller (BS ’68) and Peter Cross (BS ’68) met in 1964 as first-year students in Dabney House. Over the years and across the miles between their homes in California and Texas, the two have remained friends and forged sometimes-parallel paths. Both enjoyed successful careers developing computer systems and instrumentation. Both have supported their alma mater generously.
Nature makes it look so easy. Sunlight and carbon dioxide go in, greenery grows, and oxygen comes out. For our contemporary society hooked on fossil fuels, deriving power from abundant, natural sources is an alluring idea. But how can humankind mimic nature? Caltech is committed to figuring it out.
“The instructorship gives me complete freedom to teach far beyond what is normally taught in a history department and to design the courses, which is amazingly liberating,” says Keith Pluymers, Caltech’s inaugural Howard E. and Susanne C. Jessen Postdoctoral Instructor in the Humanities. Pluymers recently taught a course titled Rivers from Sumeria to Los Angeles.
Harry Atwater specializes in transformations.
As director of Caltech’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), he is leading a clean energy project dedicated to mimicking photosynthesis to create useful fuels. Or, as President Barack Obama described it in his 2011 State of the Union address: “At Caltech, they’re developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars.”
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.