Short Takes

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“We can abstract away all of the astrophysics of the problem and really just think of it as a purely computational imaging problem. We have these sparse, noisy data, and our challenge is to find the image that actually caused it.”

—Katie Bouman, who will join Caltech’s faculty as an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science in June. Bouman is a member of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team and worked on the computational imaging that recently helped capture the first-ever image of a black hole.


Underground Operation

For DARPA’s latest Grand Challenge robotic competition, the SubT Challenge, teams of autonomous robots are tasked with rapidly mapping, navigating, and searching underground environments under the supervision of a single remote operator. CoSTAR, the JPL/Caltech team, led by JPL’s Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi and Caltech’s Joel Burdick, has passed the qualifying rounds. This summer, CoSTAR will compete in the tunnel section of the competition at a yet-to-be-disclosed location. 

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Campus 360°

A new online interactive tour lets those off campus make a virtual visit to Caltech through a series of 360-degree photographs. Shown here is the Ames Lab, where engineering professor Aaron Ames and his team tackle some of the most challenging problems in robotics, such as the design of bipedal walking robots. Students in the lab are also developing designs for robots that hop. Before assembling the robots, students tweak code, design chassis and gears, and machine the parts in the metal shop. To see the tour, go to


“Most students are willing to work very hard and dedicate substantial time and energy to learning if they know that what they are doing is worthwhile. That is why it is so important for them to know why a certain seemingly obscure mathematical concept or a physical phenomenon matters and where it fits in the grand scheme of things.” 

Ali Hajimiri Winner of Caltech’s 2019 Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science 



Back on Campus 

Astrophysicist and Caltech alumna France Córdova (PhD ’79) stepped onto the Beckman Mall stage on June 14 as the speaker for Caltech's 125th commencement ceremony. 

Since former President Obama appointed her director of the National Science Foundation in 2014, Córdova has developed initiatives that cut across fields of scientific discovery, technological innovation, and STEM education. 

Formerly president of Purdue University, Córdova also served as NASA’s chief scientist in the 1990s. At the time, she was the youngest person and the first woman to hold that position. 


Prefrosh Visit? Solved! 


The almost 300 students who visited Caltech in April for the Institute’s Prefrosh Experience, a welcome event for newly admitted first-year students, were greeted by two oversized Rubik’s cubes balanced on the lawn of the admissions office. Attendees at the three-day event formely known as Prefrosh Weekend got to stay overnight in student residences, meet current students, and interact with members of the Caltech community. 

Jon Nalick