Issue 4: November 2017

Roots and Branches

In this issue of The Caltech Effect, we explore the notion of familial ties across many dimensions—generations, labs, even the Milky Way.

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Interactive Feature

Culture of Connection

Laboratory groups are often compared to families, complete with extensive ancestral trees. Discover how Marianne Bronner’s lab members tap into their connections as they advance in their careers.

A capital at Caltech reputed to represent George Ellery Hale

The Hale Guide

Five Steps to Realizing a Vision

“My grandfather was consumed by what he was doing,” says Caltech Associates member Sam Hale, now 75 years old and living in Santa Barbara. His grandfather—George Ellery Hale (1868–1938), who developed world-leading observatories and co-founded Caltech—fascinates him, although they never met.


Rolling Out the Welcome Mat

Interactive Feature

In Search of Other Earths

How much do we know about planets orbiting other stars and their ability to harbor life? Learn about the common characteristics that scientists have uncovered and how Professor of Astronomy Andrew Howard’s research aims to reveal even more about exoplanets.


Family Ties

Alumni talk about what it’s like to share the joys, rewards, and battle scars of a Caltech education with a relative.

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Lauretta with her sons, Joseph and David, at David’s medical school graduation in 2013
Caltech alumni Marco and Louis Romero
Marco (left) and Louis in 1985
(from left) Po-Ru, Debbie, Po-Shen, and Po-Ling in 2004
(from left) John, Harrison, and Nina at Harrison’s Caltech graduation in 2017
(from left) Ken, Susan, Elizabeth, and Lee at a Caltech Associates trip in 2017
(from left) Leslie, Tommy, Jacqueline, and Kenneth at Tommy and Jacqueline’s wedding in 2017

Lauretta Carroll (BS ’77)

Spouse of John Epperson (BS ’77) and mother of incoming Caltech assistant professor David Van Valen (PhD ’11)

“At Caltech, I got an up-close and personal look at academic excellence. As a mother, I constantly shared stories about Caltech with my children, and they came to realize how Caltech helped make me who I am. As my younger son, David, found his calling in science, I’m glad Caltech also could help shape him into the scientist he is today.”

Louis Romero (BS ’75, PhD ’82)

Son of Marco Romero (BS ’50) and father of Julian Romero (MS ’07, PhD ’10), Phillip Romero (PhD ’12), and Alexander Romero (MS ’13)

“Raised in Puerto Rico, my father came to Caltech on the GI Bill after World War II. The demanding curriculum, delivered in a foreign tongue, nearly caused him to flunk out his first year. Having survived Caltech, he told many stories that inspired my sons and me to have a deep respect for Caltech, which set the stage for us to flourish in Caltech’s rigorous academic environment.”

Po-Shen Loh (BS ’04)

Brother of Po-Ru Loh (BS ’07) and Po-Ling Loh (BS ’09) and spouse of Debbie Lee (BS ’04)

“Having my brother and sister attend only strengthened my ties to Caltech because I was visiting campus quite frequently to see them and their friends. I valued my interactions with Caltech students so much that I now have a tradition of meeting undergraduates and sharing my career experiences with them whenever I’m in town.”

Nina Cardoza (BS ’94)

Spouse of John Krowas (BS ’93) and mother of Harrison Krowas (BS ’17)

“Halfway through Harrison’s freshman year, he called John and me and asked why we didn’t tell him how hard Caltech is. We had tried, but it’s kind of indescribable.

“As Caltech alumni, we all share this common experience that binds us together like a family—unless you have survived it, it is difficult to understand.”

Susan Murakami (BS ’75)

Spouse of Leroy “Lee” Fisher (BS ’78), mother of Ken Fisher (BS ’08), and future mother-in-law of Elizabeth Gilliam (BS ’08)

“The conversations Lee and I have with Ken and Elizabeth about Caltech veer more to the differences than the shared experiences. Much has changed since I was a student. Yes, the challenge is the same, but the core curriculum has changed, there are certainly more women on campus, and there are more extracurricular opportunities.”

Kenneth Rousseau (BS ’79)

Spouse of Leslie Paxton Rousseau (BS ’79), father of Jacqueline Morphet (BS ’11), and father-in-law of Tommy Morphet (BS ’09)

“Among our alumni friends, we joke that attending Caltech was like being a marine in a foxhole. When you go through an intense experience, you develop camaraderie with those who were in the foxhole with you. Even now, these friendships are a great source of strength for me. It’s kind of nice to have family members who had the same experience and can understand.”