• Jane Arnault-Factor
    Jane Arnault-Factor

March Greetings from the Associates President

Among nonprofit organizations the Associates offer something unique. Members' experience can become highly personal—you can attend lectures and dinners, travel to exciting destinations with Caltech professors and fellow Associates, become involved in campus life, invest in projects, faculty, or students, or simply dine with top scholars at the historic Athenaeum.

The Associates is a portal to Caltech—members gain access to the incredible people and discoveries that are expanding the understanding of the world and our well-being. My husband's and my college and graduate schools are on the East Coast. Our membership in the Associates provides us with a very satisfying way to combine our enjoyment of learning from top scholars and researchers with our philanthropic activities.

One of the highlights of our involvement is interacting with Caltech undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs. They are curious and fascinating conversationalists with exciting ideas, who excel in one of the world's most rigorous academic environments.

Students at Caltech are part of the lifeblood of the Institute—they bring fresh, creative perspectives and inspire the next generation of transformative discoveries. The undergraduate population totals 979 students. This freshman class has the highest SAT score by 30 points—1534—of any university in the country.

I recently learned that Caltech undergraduate alumni can be credited with co-invention of the transistor; invention of photocopying, the credit card security code, and designs for better telescopes, racecars, and microscopes; and development of the drug cocktail that has dramatically prolonged the lives of millions of patients with AIDS, and that is just a few of many breakthroughs. Others have led universities, federal agencies, major corporations, and even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (filmmaker Frank Capra).

One current undergraduate is Hana Keller, Class of 2018. She grew up in Seattle surrounded by a family of geologists and wanted a challenging and exceptional academic environment. She came to Caltech. Hana received an Associates Endowed Scholarship and followed her dream of becoming a doctor and/or creating innovative medical robotics. She is now pursuing a joint mechanical engineering/premed major. As she explained in her interview with the Associates, "Very few colleges allow a mechanical engineer to take the core requirements to be able to go on to medical school, but at Caltech there are no boundaries." I encourage you to read the full interview with Hana and learn about some of her Caltech experiences here.

Another highlight for me as President of the Associates is participating in and identifying Associates programming for next year and further out. We get to hear from inspiring faculty who are working on remarkable research. Last month, Andy Thompson, assistant professor of environmental science and engineering, shared some of his lab's fascinating advances in using autonomous underwater vehicles—called sea gliders—and numerical models to study ocean currents and eddies and their impact on Earth's ecology and climate. He also brought a life-sized demo sea glider for us to touch and examine!


Based on feedback from Associates and our board and committee members, upcoming programs are continuing to evolve. After the success of last year's panel events When in Drought, The Future of Driverless Cars, and The Techer Species, we listened to the request for more of these topical discussions and are looking forward to presenting one in each of our three regions in the next few months.

In Northern California, Nobel laureate David Baltimore, along with Northern California committee member David Larwood, will engage in a discussion on the topic of gene editing on March 25. More

On campus, we are bringing together a distinguished panel to discuss the future of driverless vehicles, featuring Richard Murray and Mory Gharib, moderated by entrepreneur and Northern California committee member Evangelos Simoudis, on April 19. More

The East Coast will hear from a panel forecasting the future of the banking and finance industries, moderated by Jean-Laurent Rosenthal (PhD '88), on June 6. The panelists are Janet Campagna (MS '85, a Distinguished Alum of Caltech, and CEO of QS Investors), Mike Lipper (Caltech Trustee and President of Lipper Advisory Services), and James Caron (BS '92 and Managing Director of Investment Management at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney).

On the travel front, the Associates continue to offer magnificent opportunities. You can now sign up for the 2018 family trip to the Galápagos Islands from August 24 to September 2, with Rob Phillips, distinguished Caltech biologist. Darwin described the place as "a little world within itself," where life-altering encounters with animals happen as they do nowhere else on earth. Read more about this once-in-a-lifetime adventure opportunity here

For more information about these programs, please contact Ruby Rico at caltechassociates@caltech.edu or (626) 395-6392.

—Jane Arnault-Factor, PhD, Caltech Associates Board President