Break Through On the Road 2019

Break Through on the Road

Saturday, February 9, 2019
3:30-9:30 PM

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

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Program

Check-in begins at 3:00 p.m.
Join us for all activities, or any part of the day!

  • Explore

    3:30 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

    Discover how Caltech scientists and engineers work to expand the boundaries of knowledge and invent technologies that benefit society.

    Topics

    Securing Elections

    R. Michael Alvarez
    Professor of Political Science

    How can we be certain that an election has been conducted freely and fairly, and has not been marred by errors or fraud? Michael Alvarez will describe innovative data science methods that provide an evidence-based approach for assuring confidence in an election. He will focus on the 2018 general elections in Orange County, California, where he and his research team partnered with the county’s registrar of voters to conduct a voter registration database integrity study. Beginning with the primaries in June, the partnership began collecting and analyzing massive amounts of election data to look for any sign of untoward activity. The project’s organizers also made available an online election-integrity dashboard that presents users with statistics and analytics related to voter rolls, large-scale changes in voting behavior, and firsthand reports about problems and wait times at polling places. The study is an outgrowth of research conducted by the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project that was formed in the aftermath of the controversial 2000 presidential election with the aim of improving the voting process in the U.S. and abroad.


    Minding the Gaps in the Genome

    Mitchell Guttman
    Assistant Professor of Biology
    Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute

    While still a graduate student at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Mitchell Guttman led the team that first described a special class of genes called large noncoding RNAs, or lncRNAs (pronounced “link RNAs”). These pieces of genetic material fall between the genes that code for proteins and therefore previously had been largely overlooked. Now, researchers have found that lncRNAs are important players in diverse biological processes such as genome regulation and cellular organization. Guttman will discuss how his laboratory at Caltech continues to study lncRNAs, including how they work, why they are needed, and what makes them special. Although it is now clear that lncRNAs are functionally important, the mechanisms by which they carry out their regulatory role is unknown. Guttman and his team aim to elucidate how lncRNAs can regulate gene expression by coordinating regulatory proteins, localizing to genomic DNA targets, and shaping three-dimensional nuclear organization. This type of information would provide an understanding of how lncRNAs regulate gene expression in normal and disease states.


    Beyond Li-ion Batteries: Pushing the Envelope of Energy Storage

    Kimberly A. See
    Assistant Professor of Chemistry

    Kimberly See is originally from the mountains of Colorado and spent much of her youth in nature. Her passion for the outdoors led her to focus on energy research, and more specifically, battery chemistry. Rechargeable batteries are essential to enabling affordable electric vehicles and the adoption of renewable energy. Lithium-ion, or Li-ion, batteries are the status quo, but many alternative chemistries beyond Li-ion could provide better performing and less expensive cells using more abundant resources. See and her students are looking into potential new electrodes and electrolytes and studying the chemistry of magnesium and other abundant, less-expensive resources with the ultimate goal of developing new chemistry. She will discuss the challenges in developing these new chemistries and the fundamental science that she and her lab members are pursuing to address them.


    Understanding the Invisible Microbial Networks that Shape Life and Biogeochemistry of Our Oceans

    Victoria J. Orphan
    James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science and Geobiology

    While invisible to the naked eye, microorganisms and their interactions with each other and their environment play fundamental roles in the cycling of elements critical to life on our planet. In deep seafloor sediments, billions of microorganisms compete and cooperate via a complex network of metabolic interactions that are still poorly understood, but are important in the cycling of methane and sequestration of carbon. Victoria Orphan will describe how she and her research team investigate the activities of marine microorganisms—from the ocean surface to deep in Earth’s crust—while considering the globally important geochemical processes they orchestrate through metabolic collaboration. The questions they are probing could have implications for climate science, the history of life on early Earth, and even the search for life on other planets.

  • 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

    7:15 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, to 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, including powered prostheses and exoskeletons able to restore mobility, with a view toward realizing the robots of science fiction.


    The Hunt for Planet Nine

    Konstantin Batygin (MS ’10, PhD ’12)
    Assistant Professor of Planetary Science
    Van Nuys Page Scholar

    In 2016, Konstantin Batygin and Caltech astronomer Mike Brown made global headlines with the announcement of the existence of an as-yet-unobserved ninth planet, touching off a worldwide race among astronomers to locate the planet. Located at the outskirts of the solar system, beyond the orbit of Neptune, Planet Nine lies an expansive field of icy debris known as the Kuiper belt. Observations of strange clusterings of Kuiper belt orbits first provided evidence of a distant, eccentric, Neptune-like planet that is likely 5-10 times more massive than Earth. Though no one has yet to observe the object directly, mathematical modeling and computer simulations give strong indications that Planet Nine is real. Batygin will discuss the work that he and Brown are doing to continue to refine their simulations and learn more about the planet’s orbit and its influence on the distant solar system, as well as describe their actual searches for the elusive planet using Japan’s 26-foot Subaru Telescope, which sits atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii.


    From Sensing to Intelligence: Building a Healthier World

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

    Azita Emami will discuss how sensing, imaging, and data acquisition, together with artificial intelligence (AI), will transform the field of medicine in the near future. In particular, she will focus on microscale implantable and wearable devices for continuous monitoring and closed-loop therapeutic systems. Students and researchers in her group have successfully developed wireless sensors that can be tracked inside the body—for use in microscale medical devices such as “smart pills” that could ultimately diagnose and treat diseases—and neural interfaces that employ efficient machine-learning algorithms. The goal of her work is to go from “sensing” to intelligently making sense of what’s going on in individual’s bodies.

  • Speakers

    R. Michael Alvarez
    Professor of Political Science

    R. Michael Alvarez has taught at the California Institute of Technology his entire career, focusing on elections, voting behavior, election technology, and research methodologies. He received his BA from Carleton College and his PhD from Duke University, both in political science. Alvarez has studied elections throughout the world, working closely with public officials in many locations to improve their elections. His current research projects include using machine learning to detect election fraud, developing social media tools to assess election problems in real time, and statistical auditing of voter registration databases. He is currently collaborating with the Orange County Registrar of Voters on developing these tools for use in Orange County, California. Alvarez is also co-director of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project and a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Society for Political Methodology. For more information about Alvarez’ work, visit http://www.its.caltech.edu/~rma/Alvarez/Welcome.html.


    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/.


    Konstantin Batygin (MS ’10, PhD ’12)
    Assistant Professor of Planetary Science
    Van Nuys Page Scholar

    Konstantin Batygin (MS ’10, PhD ’12) is a theoretical astrophysicist whose research focuses primarily on planetary astrophysics—in particular, the formation and evolution of solar systems throughout their lifespans. He also studies exoplanets and physical processes that occur in planetary interiors and atmospheres. A prolific writer, Batygin has authored more than 70 referred publications and was named the “next physics rock star” by Forbes in its 2015 list of “30 Under 30: Young Scientists Who Are Changing the World.” He received his bachelor’s in physics from UC Santa Cruz in 2008 before pursuing graduate studies at Caltech and joining the faculty in 2014. Batygin has been a visiting scientist at the Observatoire de la Cote D’Azure in Nice, France, and a prize postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. In 2017, he was named a Packard Fellow in Science and Engineering. For more information about Batygin’s research and publications, visit https://www.konstantinbatygin.com.


    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/.


    Mitchell Guttman
    Assistant Professor of Biology
    Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute

    Mitchell Guttman’s research has identified a new class of players in the human genome and shed light on how they work. His previous work explored unknown regions of the genome and identified genes
    that don’t produce proteins but do function in other important ways. Guttman received his PhD from the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and holds two degrees from the University of Pennsylvania: a BA in molecular biology and computational biology and an MS in computational biology and bioinformatics. He established his lab as an independent fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard prior to joining the faculty at Caltech in June 2013. Guttman is a Robertson Investigator of the New York Stem Cell Foundation and a recipient of numerous honors and awards including the 2012 NIH Director’s Early Independence Award and the 2014 Wilson S. Stone Memorial Award from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to biomedical research.” He was also named one of Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30” in science and medicine two years in a row. For more information about Guttman’s research and publications,, visit http://guttmanlab.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.


    Victoria J. Orphan
    James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science and Geobiology

    Victoria Orphan studies the molecular microbial ecology of anaerobic communities—microbes that exist without free oxygen in their environment—with a particular focus on microorganisms that live in deep ocean sediments and consume large quantities of methane released from the ocean floor. She received her PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2001 and joined the Caltech faculty in 2004. Orphan was the recipient of an Early Career Award from the Department of Energy in 2010, a Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering in 2011, and a Young Investigator award from the International Society of Microbial Ecology in 2012. She has been a Gordon and Betty Moore Marine Microbiology Investigator since 2013, and she became a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2015. In 2016, Orphan was named a MacArthur Fellow. For more information about Orphan’s work, visit http://orphanlab.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.


    Kimberly A. See
    Assistant Professor of Chemistry

    Kimberly See’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach to tackle fundamental questions related to electrochemical devices, such as batteries. She and her group combine expertise in materials chemistry, analytical chemistry, and electrochemistry to elucidate the structure of active materials during and as a result of charge-transfer processes in batteries and other materials—work that will further the fundamental knowledge of redox processes and enable better materials design and ultimately more efficient devices. She earned her BS in chemistry from the Colorado School of Mines in 2009 and her PhD in chemistry from UC Santa Barbara in 2014. For her postdoctoral work, she was selected as the Saint Elmo Brady Future Faculty Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Since joining the Caltech faculty, she was elected as a Research Corporation Scialog Fellow in 2017 and was awarded the Electrochemical Society Toyota Young Investigator Award in 2018. For more information about See’s work, visit https://www.seegroup.caltech.edu/.

Event Details

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

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Location

JW Marriott
900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Complimentary Valet Parking
1015 S. Georgia Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(Labeled: West Road)

Contact

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