Since its public launch in April 2016, Break Through: The Caltech Campaign has broken Institute fundraising records. While Break Through looks to secure Caltech’s future as a source of discovery for the world, the campaign already is making an imprint on campus and beyond by supporting Caltech people who are pursuing big questions and bold ideas.
Xie Chen is a theorist working at the edge of science and engineering, where ideas straight out of science fiction abut the future of computing—and, thus, the future of our plugged-in society. Nominally, she’s a condensed matter physicist exploring quantum systems. But Chen isn’t concerned with neatly drawn lines between disciplines.
“This is such an extraordinary division, you feel that you want to give back, to be a part of it, and to help make a difference,” says Jackie Barton, who holds the Norman Davidson Leadership Chair in Caltech’s Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (CCE) and is the John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor of Chemistry.
“You ought to leave the world better than you found it,” engineer Allen Davis was known to say. And he did: Davis, who passed away at age 91 in 2015, left more than $60 million from his estate to Caltech.
Growing up in rural Alabama, Caltech trustee Taylor Lawrence (BS ’86) was a self-professed “geeky, physics-and-math-loving kid” who thought of scientists—people like Richard Feynman—as rock stars and Caltech as the stage where they performed thrilling acts of science.
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.
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.