Break Through On the Road

Break Through on the Road: San Jose

Saturday, April 7, 2018
3:30-9:30 PM

President Thomas F. Rosenbaum invites you for a day of discovery.

Reservations are closed.

Program

Check-in begins at 3:30 p.m.
Join us for all activities, or any part of the day!

  • Explore

    4:00 p.m.

    Student Experience

    Hear from a panel of undergraduate and graduate students about life at Caltech today.

    Moderator

    Kevin Gilmartin
    Professor of English
    Dean of Undergraduate Students

    Scientific Adventures

    Immerse yourself in game-changing research. Select two of four presentations by Caltech faculty in the areas of entrepreneurial finance, climate science, mechanics of materials, and medical engineering.

    Topics

    Feeling the Heat: Sensing Technology from Plants and Snakes

    Chiara Daraio
    Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics

    Temperature sensing is exquisitely refined in many biological systems. Take trees, for example, which can be highly sensitive to changes in temperature. Or the pit viper, whose pit membrane—the most powerful heat detector in the animal kingdom—enables it to locate prey at night. Chiara Daraio will describe how she and her team were testing an artificial wood they had developed when, serendipitously, they discovered that it, too, responded to temperature changes. They traced the source of this sensitivity to pectin, a molecule common in plant cell walls and a thickening agent used for making jellies and jams, and set off in a new direction: extracting these molecules from living cells to fabricate new materials with record-breaking temperature sensitivity. Daraio’s team has created a thin, transparent, flexible film with temperature-sensing properties surpassing those of the pit viper. Potential uses include artificial skin that could augment the sensitivity of robots or restore senses for people with prosthetic limbs, smart bandages that could detect changes in body temperature, and thermal sensors for consumer electronics.


    Medicine of the Future: Implantable and Wearable Micro-Devices

    Azita Emami
    Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering
    Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute
    Executive Officer, Department of Electrical Engineering

    Tiny implantable and wearable devices very well may transform medicine in the near future, and Azita Emami is helping to drive this transformation. Emami will describe how she and her team design miniaturized minimally invasive devices that one day could diagnose and treat a variety of conditions. One particularly promising project is an implantable sensor that can continuously monitor glucose and, used in conjunction with a wearable reader, immediately notify people with diabetes when their glucose levels change—eliminating the need for finger-pricking. The researchers also have created a prototype miniature medical device that could be used in “smart pills” and other sensors for monitoring a person’s blood, brain, or gastrointestinal tract. What makes this technology unique is that, inspired by the principles of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), it uses magnetic fields to track its precise location in the body. The dream, according to Emami, is to create microscale devices that can roam our bodies, diagnosing and fixing problems.


    Starting Up: Changing the Face of Entrepreneurial Finance

    Michael Ewens
    Associate Professor of Finance and Entrepreneurship

    Startups face myriad challenges raising capital—but why do female-founded startups have a particularly difficult time? Michael Ewens’s recent work gets to the heart of this question. After accounting for factors such as company performance, startup field, and level of risk, he arrived at one likely explanation: Men prefer to invest in companies run by other men. Since men make up more than 90 percent of venture capitalists, this preference creates a bottleneck that keeps women out of the ranks of tech entrepreneurs. Ewens will discuss the barriers female entrepreneurs encounter when seeking early-stage financing and the conflicts between investors and entrepreneurs in the choice to go public. Entrepreneurial finance overall is a key issue for society. Most policymakers view startups as a positive force, for example, because they generate so many jobs. But startups also destroy jobs, since most small businesses flounder. Ewens’s goal is to collect rich data and apply empirical strategies to shine a light on what makes startups succeed or fail.


    Seals, Satellites, and Ocean Gliders: Antarctic Climate Explorers

    Andrew Thompson
    Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering

    The ocean surrounding Antarctica has been steadily warming for decades and is believed to be a key factor in the rapid thinning of floating ice shelves ringing the continent. But the Southern Ocean’s remote location in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth poses logistical challenges for researchers seeking to observe changes in water temperatures and circulation patterns. Andrew Thompson will describe how he and his team have used autonomous robotic ocean gliders, together with satellite measurements and marine mammals fitted with scientific instruments, to explore the physical and biological properties of the ocean and sea ice around Antarctica. These novel observations have yielded new insights about the unique role the Southern Ocean plays in Earth’s climate system—in particular its significant influence on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and rising global sea levels.

  • Connect

    6:15 p.m.

    Reception

    Mingle with Caltech alumni, Associates, faculty, students, parents, and friends. Refreshments and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served.

  • Engage

    7:30 p.m.

    The Power of Big Ideas

    Hear from President Rosenbaum about how the campaign is enabling breakthrough discoveries at Caltech. Enjoy fast-paced presentations from Caltech faculty who are reshaping the way we think about our world.

    Dessert reception will follow.

    Featuring

    President Rosenbaum
    President, Caltech
    Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and Professor of Physics


    Making Sci-Fi Robots Real

    Aaron Ames
    Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems

    Science fiction has long imagined a world of robotic possibilities—from humanoid robots that help with our everyday lives to wearable devices that restore and augment human capabilities, from swarms of autonomous robotic systems forming the backbones of futuristic cities to robots enabling the exploration of the cosmos. Progressing from science fiction to scientific reality will require us to imbue machines with the dynamic locomotion behaviors that humans display with deceptive ease—the ability to navigate everything from our daily environments to uneven and uncertain terrains with efficiency and endurance. Aaron Ames is taking the first steps toward achieving this goal. His lab designs, builds, and tests bipedal and humanoid robots that move with the hallmarks of natural human walking. Ames will describe how these ideas can be applied to robotic assistive devices (such as mobility aids for people with physical disabilities), incorporating essential safety systems, with a view toward realizing the robots of science fiction.


    A Better Way to Map the Brain

    Viviana Gradinaru
    Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering
    Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute
    Director, Center for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech

    Over the past decade, scientists have developed a variety of technologies for studying the complex interactions among neurons that underlie locomotion, reward, and sleep. Reprogrammed viruses, for example, known as vectors, are used for delivering genes to treat disease or to label neurons and their connective fibers with fluorescent color, enabling scientists to map out their locations. But present-day neuroscience relies on surgical techniques to deliver these genetically encoded tools—an invasive process that can be fraught with complications. Viviana Gradinaru will describe new vectors that she and her team have developed—viruses that can deliver genes even to hard-to-reach organs across the body, including the brain, following a simple injection into the bloodstream. In addition to helping scientists map neuronal circuits and learn how they change during disease, these vectors ultimately could be incorporated as part of gene therapies to treat neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

  • Speakers

    Aaron Ames
    Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems

    Aaron Ames runs the Advanced Mobility Laboratory (AMBER) at Caltech’s Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST), where he hand-builds and tests bipedal robots and prosthetic limbs and designs the algorithms that govern how they walk. The goal is to achieve human-like robotic walking and translate that capability to robotic assistive devices as well as robots that can explore environments not accessible to humans—including Mars and beyond. Ames earned his undergraduate degrees from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and his MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, he received the National Science Foundation CAREER award for his research on bipedal robotic walking and its applications to prosthetic devices. He also received the 2015 Donald P. Eckman Award, which recognizes an outstanding young engineer in the field of automatic control. For more information about Ames’s research and publications, visit http://www.bipedalrobotics.com/.


    Chiara Daraio
    Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics

    Chiara Daraio received her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Università Politecnica delle Marche, Italy (2001). She received her MS (2003) and PhD (2006) in materials science and engineering from the University of California, San Diego. She first came to Caltech as a member of the aeronautics and applied physics departments in fall 2006. In 2013, she left to join the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zürich, where she held a chair in mechanics and materials until returning to Caltech in 2016. She received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2012, was elected as a Sloan Research Fellow in 2011, and received an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 2010. She is also a winner of the NSF CAREER award (2009), the International Association of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics’ Richard-von-Mises Prize (2008), and the Society for Experimental Mechanics’ M. Hetényi Award (2015). She was selected by Popular Science magazine among the “Brilliant 10” (2010). She serves as a board editor for Science (AAAS) and as an associate editor for Extreme Mechanics Letters (Elsevier). For more information about Daraio’s research and publications, visit http://www.daraio.caltech.edu.


    Azita Emami
    Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering
    Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute
    Executive Officer, Department of Electrical Engineering

    Azita Emami’s research interests include integrated circuits and systems, integrated photonics, high-speed data communication, and wearable and implantable devices for neural recording, neural stimulation, sensing, and drug delivery. Emami joined Caltech in 2007 and served as deputy chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science from 2015 to 2018. She received her MS (1999) and PhD (2004) in electrical engineering from Stanford University and her BS (1996) from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. Before joining Caltech, she worked at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center from 2004 to 2006 and was an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Columbia University from 2006 to 2007. She is currently associate editor for the IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits (JSSC) and a lecturer for the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society Distinguished Lecturer Program. For more information about Emami’s research and publications, visit https://www.mics.caltech.edu/.


    Michael Ewens
    Associate Professor of Finance and Entrepreneurship

    A specialist in entrepreneurial finance, Michael Ewens is interested in the financial intermediation, innovation, and management of high-growth startups such as new biotech companies and clean-energy firms. He studies how money and investors get matched to startups and the value that is created after they are financed, revisiting fundamental issues in finance and economics and creating new large-sample data where earlier research examined only a few industries or short time periods. Ewens joined Caltech after serving on the faculty of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University from 2010 to 2014. He completed his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis in 2004 and received his PhD in economics from the University of California, San Diego, in 2010. Since 2006, Ewens also has worked as a quantitative advisor for Correlation Ventures, a quantitative-focused venture capital firm based in San Diego, CA. For more information about Ewens’s research and publications, visit https://ewens.caltech.edu/.


    Kevin Gilmartin
    Professor of English
    Dean of Undergraduate Students

    Kevin Gilmartin studies social and political developments in British literature and print culture during the Age of Revolution. Since joining the Caltech faculty in 1991, he has twice received ASCIT (Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology) teaching awards, and in 2015 he was honored with the Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Gilmartin also served as a professor of Romantic literature in the Department of English and Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York, where he has been an occasional visiting professor since 2009. He is currently dean of undergraduate students at Caltech. For more information about Dean Gilmartin, visit http://www.hss.caltech.edu/content/kevin-m-gilmartin.


    Viviana Gradinaru
    Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering
    Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute
    Director, Center for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech

    Viviana Gradinaru (BS ’05) leads a research group that has developed a variety of novel tools for neuroscience, such as Optogenetics (a technology for using light to control genetically modified cells, enabling researchers to view the brain’s circuitry in action), CLARITY (a technique that renders soft tissues transparent), and viral vectors (viruses that have been reprogrammed to deliver genes to cells). Gradinaru completed her BS at Caltech and her PhD at Stanford University. She has received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and has been named both a World Economic Forum Young Scientist and one of Cell’s 40 under 40. Gradinaru is also a Sloan Fellow, Pew Scholar, Human Frontier Science Program Young Investigator, Kimmel Scholar, Moore Inventor Fellow and Vallee Scholar. She received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2016 and was the 2017 Early-Career Scientist winner in the inaugural Innovators in Science Award program sponsored by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and the New York Academy of Sciences. For more information about Gradinaru’s research and publications, visit http://glab.caltech.edu/.


    Thomas F. Rosenbaum
    President, Caltech
    Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and Professor of Physics

    Thomas F. Rosenbaum is the ninth president of the California Institute of Technology, holder of the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair, and Professor of Physics. He is an expert on the quantum mechanical nature of materials, conducting research at Bell Laboratories, IBM Watson Research Center, and the University of Chicago, where he served as provost before moving to Caltech in 2014. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics with honors from Harvard University and a PhD in physics from Princeton University. Rosenbaum is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For more information about President Rosenbaum, visit http://www.caltech.edu/president.


    Andrew Thompson
    Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering

    Andrew Thompson is an oceanographer who focuses on the role of ocean circulation in Earth’s climate system. In particular, his research group uses autonomous ocean robots and satellite data to study the polar oceans and their influence on the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Thompson has participated in multiple field programs in the Southern Ocean, the ring of ocean that circles Antarctica. Thompson received his BA from Dartmouth College and two master’s degrees from the University of Cambridge. After earning his PhD from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the United Kingdom, where he spent time at the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey. He was honored with the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Early Career Award in 2013 and a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering in 2014. For more information about Thompson’s research and publications, visit http://web.gps.caltech.edu/~andrewt.

Event Details

Children ages 15 years and older are welcome to attend. Business casual.

Reservations are closed.

Location

Fairmont San Jose
170 South Market Street
San Jose, California, 95113

Complimentary valet parking.

Contact

Campaigns Office
(626) 395-1466
campaign@caltech.edu