Bruce Churchill Murray, Caltech Professor of Planetary Science, Emeritus, and former head of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), succumbed to complications of Alzheimer's disease on August 29, 2013. He was 81.
Two business leaders, Joshua S. Friedman and Richmond A. Wolf, have been elected to the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Friedman will serve on the board as a trustee and Wolf (MS '94, PhD '97) as a young alumni trustee.
Alumnus David E. Chavez once wondered if he had what it takes to get into Caltech. Now U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has named Chavez one of nine winners of the 2011 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award.
Award-winning film director and Caltech alum Frank Capra (BS '18) once said, "A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something." In October, the MacArthur Foundation clearly had a hunch about another alumnus, organic chemist Melanie Sanford (PhD '01), who received one of their prestigious MacArthur Fellowships, an award that provides unrestricted funds to "talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction."
Caltech alum E. William (Bill) Colglazier, PhD '71, has been appointed Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Colglazier retired last month from his positions as executive officer of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and chief operating officer of the National Research Council.
On June 10, Catherine Beni graduated as the youngest woman to ever receive a PhD from Caltech, theyoungest person to be bestowed her actual diploma—and locked in a virtual dead heat for the "precociousness title" with physicist and Caltech grad Stephen Wolfram, developer of the Mathematica software program. Wolfram says he was a scant five days younger than Beni when he defended his thesis, making him title-holder. Beni's take? Not so fast, Stephen.
Caltech has recognized five of its graduates with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor regularly bestowed by the Institute. The award acknowledges a particular achievement, a series of achievements, or a career of achievements of noteworthy value. Since its inception in 1966, the award has been granted to outstanding alumni in the sciences, engineering, business, and the arts. The 2011 recipients are Leroy E. Hood, Steven E. Koonin, Cleve B. Moler, Carolyn C. Porco, and Albert Y. C. Yu.
An encounter with summer smog in Yosemite National Park led Caltech graduate student and accomplished nature photographer William Chueh to take action through science. His resulting research could help reduce the planet's dependence on fossil fuels, not to mention clean the air over Yosemite.