• Jane Arnault-Factor
    Jane Arnault-Factor

September Greetings from the Associates President

The Associates kicked off the summer season with a private tour of the iconic Griffith Observatory. Almost 80 Associates members, friends, and their families enjoyed exclusive access and freely roamed the halls to explore the exhibits, including the 1910 Tesla coil, the Foucault pendulum, and the compelling planetary weighing scale that allows visitors to discover their personal mass on each of the planets in our solar system. Professor George Djorgovski shared insights into the leading-edge research of the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy, about which will be expanded upon next month. He engaged in personal conversations with attendees about how he created the Big Picture exhibit, which is the largest astronomical photograph in the world showing a small slice of the universe—the amount of night sky covered by your finger held a foot from your eye. We concluded this wonderful evening with a sunset dinner overlooking the Hollywood sign and hills (view photos here).
 
As the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017, captured the imagination of Americans across the country, a group of 50 Caltech Associates President's Circle members experienced an exclusive adventure with Caltech Professors Mike Brown and Paul Asimow. Read more about this exciting trip here.
 
Summer on Campus
Caltech was bustling with activity over the summer—the Admissions Office welcomed more than 470 prospective freshman and their families to campus for the Summer Preview events. Attendees came from as far away as China, the Philippines, and Turkey, as well as some from a few miles away in Pasadena. Associates and the Caltech community were treated to a special screening and panel discussion about the 40-year journey of NASA's Voyager spacecraft. Caltech's unique Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program was also in full swing. SURF enables undergraduates, for which they can participate in each summer except in their final senior year, to gain firsthand experience in laboratories and lead research projects. Some undergraduates collaborate with graduates and postdocs, others work directly with the faculty members, and others lead their own research projects in consultation with a professor.

The campus honored the past and ushered in the future: July marked the end of an era as the 400-year-old Engelmann oak was cut down; design and planning started on the Chen Neuroscience Research Building; the groundbreaking took place for Caltech's new Hameetman Center for students, supported by Caltech trustee and longtime Associates Fred and Joyce Hameetman; and renovations to the Sloan Laboratory of Mathematics and Physics, were made possible with support from Caltech trustee and longtime Associates members Ron and Maxine Linde.

Research at Caltech never stops! Here are a few exciting summer highlights you might have missed:

  • Caltech chemists have figured out a new, more efficient way to create carbon-based fuels from carbon dioxide (CO2). More.
  • A theoretical physicist is developing a new algorithm, designing the computer software of the future. More.
  • David Baltimore is creating genetically engineered viruses to help the immune system target specific pathogens in unexpected ways. More.
  • Identification of a specific protein in the brain promotes new understanding of how light directly affects sleeping and waking. More.

Upcoming Events & Associates Calendar
The Associates have a fun and full schedule of upcoming programs for you to enjoy. Our September events are as follows:

  • On campus, a celebratory dinner honoring Edward M. Stolper, as he completes more than a decade of service as provost of Caltech, will be an occasion not to be missed on September 13.
  • Our luncheon, in partnership with the Office of Gift Planning, with Professor Pamela Bjorkman will address the body's complex immune system and Caltech's recent advances in attacking HIV on September 27.

View the new schedule of events here and mark your calendars.

Next month we will highlight the division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy (PMA), Caltech's second largest division in terms of faculty and largest in research scientists and administrative staff. PMA has recently celebrated such monumental achievements as LIGO's detection of gravitational waves last year and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope's revelation in August this year of the first known system of seven Earth-sized planets around a single star.

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