In addition to his individual research interests in photovoltaic cell development, Atwater is also part of a collaborative effort to advance solar energy research at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP).
André Hoelz, Caltech's newest assistant professor of chemistry, endeavors to fully characterize the nuclear pore complex, a cellular component made up of many copies of about 30 different proteins—perhaps 1,000 proteins in all and 10 million atoms—which forms a transport channel in the membrane of the nuclear envelope. Hoelz calls the complex "the gatekeeper of the nucleus."
Katrina Ligett, a new assistant professor of computer science and economics, is fascinated by problems that involve a conflict or tension between individual incentives and more global objectives. She uses ideas from computer science and mathematics to approach problems of algorithmic game theory.
Two new faculty members have joined the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. Ryan Patterson, assistant professor of physics, studies the elusive neutrino, a mysterious particle that could hold the clues to some of the universe's biggest questions. Vladimir Markovic, professor of mathematics, is trying to understand the shapes and structures of mathematical spaces called manifolds. In particular, he's worked with a mathematical object that resembles a pair of pants.
The latest faculty to join the ranks as assistant professors in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences spend a lot of time gazing toward the heavens. Bethany Ehlmann has been working on understanding environmental conditions early in Mars's history, while Heather Knutson focuses on characterizing the properties of the planets that orbit stars other than our sun.
The sky is gray, but you're not sure if the clouds will clear or rain will pour. Do you grab an umbrella when you go outside? Such decisions are filled with ambiguity, and we're faced with them daily. "Almost every decision has some ambiguity," says Kota Saito, an economist who develops empirical and mathematical models on how people make decisions—insight that can inform socioeconomic policy. This fall, he joins Caltech as an assistant professor and the newest faculty member of the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
For Andrew Thompson, assistant professor of environmental science and engineering who joined GPS in August, growing up in Rhode Island gave him a natural affinity for the ocean. Now, he studies physical ocean science, focusing on eddies. While Thompson studies the way sea storms move things around, new faculty member and alum Victor Tsai, assistant professor of geophysics, is busy measuring the seismic noise produced by the movements of the ocean—partly from the crashing of waves onto the shore.
David Reitze has been named executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), designed and operated by Caltech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Reitze has also been named a senior research associate at Caltech.
Lea Goentoro remembers the precise moment that biology made an impression on her. It was 2002 and she was a PhD candidate in chemical engineering at Princeton. During a presentation, developmental biologist and Nobel laureate Eric Wieschaus showed a movie of a live fly embryo under a microscope that was undergoing gastrulation, a process she found fascinating. Now, nine years after that fateful day in New Jersey, Goentoro is Caltech's newest faculty member in the Division of Biology.