Exploration: The Globe and Beyond

A New Lecture Series at Caltech

Caltech has long had a reputation for wide-ranging exploration, and now its Division of Humanities and Social Sciences is celebrating this theme in a lecture series titled Exploration: The Globe and Beyond. The series is intended to bring together a diverse community to discuss the broad theme of exploration, from antiquity to the present day, from new lands on Earth to other planets in our solar system.

"Exploration," says Professor of History Nicolas Wey-Gomez, "is an indeterminate process. It is about abandoning oneself to a search that may or may not lead somewhere other than where one began. However uncertain it may be at times, it is the prerequisite for any real discovery."

The first lecture in the series—"Junípero Serra and the Spanish 'Craze'"—was given on January 6 by historian Richard L. Kagan of Johns Hopkins University. Kagan described how Serra came to stand in as the "founding father of California, the Columbus of the West." The wave that Serra rode to this new status—well after his death—was part of what Kagan described as a "craze" for all things Spanish that arose, ironically, in the midst of the Spanish-American War in 1898. It was not only Californians who flirted with the tropes of brave conquistadors and pious bringers of civilization to indigenous peoples. Spanish culture flourished in popular songs, stage shows, architecture, and numerous public exhibitions across a young nation that was flexing its own muscles as a new world power.

Chet Van Duzer of the Library of Congress will be the next lecturer in the series, with a talk titled "Watching a Renaissance Cartographer at Work: The Construction of Waldseemüller's Carta Marina of 1516" on March 24. In 1516, mapping was accomplished by marshaling data from texts and travelers' reports and converting it into two-dimensional representations of lands and seas; today satellites make this task much easier.

Future lecturers in the series will include Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology John Grotzinger, who will speak about the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, and Professor Deborah Coen of Barnard College, who will talk about her recent book The Earthquake Observers: Disaster Science from Lisbon to Richter.  All lectures are open to the public.

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Cynthia Eller
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Aiding and Abetting a Culture of Corruption

Watson Lecture Preview

Jean Ensminger is studying a corruption network linked to aid money, using interviews and quantitative analytical methods to follow the money disbursed by a large World Bank project in Africa. Ensminger, Caltech's Edie and Lew Wasserman Professor of Social Sciences, will explain the magnitude of the corruption problem and share some forensic economic techniques that could allow development donors to combat corruption by tracking potential fraud in real time. The talk will be at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 15, 2014, in Caltech's Beckman Auditorium. Admission is free.

 

Q: What do you do?

A: I'm an economic anthropologist. I have spent my career trying to understand how economic systems work from the grass roots up in developing countries. Right now I'm studying the role of corruption in that process. Most corruption studies look at grand scandals on the national level, but I also want to understand the impacts of corruption when it percolates down to ordinary people at the village level. Once corruption reaches this level, it has usually become the social norm and works like a vortex sucking more and more systems and individuals into its grip.

There is no methods book that teaches one how to conduct a study of this sort. But that has been part of the excitement, as I had to invent the process as I went along. Had I not built up a lot of trusted networks from 30 years of research in Kenya this would not have been possible. Trust is everything in a project of this sort. Another thing this process has taught me is that time is your friend. The data get better and better.

 

Q: How did you get into this line of work?

A: I have worked with the Orma people in a remote part of Kenya for about 30 years. In 2004 a small micro project came to the village in which I stay, and it was part of a large World Bank project. I did a research paper on the corruption in that micro project that caught the attention of the World Bank. Given the reaction to my work by those running the project, I suspected that "where there is smoke there is fire." As I broadened my inquiries, I rapidly deduced that the entire project was ripe for further investigation and important enough for me to redirect my primary research orientation.

Research like this is unusual even for an anthropologist. I was in the right place at the right time to do something that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been done quite like this before. I had a sabbatical coming up; I had research money available to me; and, because I had been working in Kenya so long, I had a network that gave me access to the top of civil society—people who are household names in Kenya helped me get started. I have never regretted this decision.

 

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: Although economists have written a great deal about the negative impact of corruption upon economic growth, the level of corruption in aid is not well measured, and I think it's important to know more. People may love foreign aid or hate foreign aid, but one thing most agree upon is that they would like to see it spent effectively, and certainly not to do harm. Corruption has a corrosive effect upon many individuals who are virtually compelled to participate because the system is pervasive. That is part of the human story.

In spite of all this, there is hope. What keeps me particularly fired up is that this project resonates with so many of the wonderful citizens of Kenya, including the scores of people who bravely provided evidence for this project. People have literally pounded the table to encourage me to keep going, to dig deeper, and to get the word out. It is a good feeling to have the passion I hold for my research shared with Kenyans.

 

 

Named for the late Caltech professor Earnest C. Watson, who founded the series in 1922, the Watson Lectures present Caltech and JPL researchers describing their work to the public. Many past Watson Lectures are available online at Caltech's iTunes U site.

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Assessing Others: Evaluating the Expertise of Humans and Computer Algorithms

How do we come to recognize expertise in another person and integrate new information with our prior assessments of that person's ability? The brain mechanisms underlying these sorts of evaluations—which are relevant to how we make decisions ranging from whom to hire, whom to marry, and whom to elect to Congress—are the subject of a new study by a team of neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

In the study, published in the journal Neuron, Antonio Rangel, Bing Professor of Neuroscience, Behavioral Biology, and Economics, and his associates used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor the brain activity of volunteers as they moved through a particular task. Specifically, the subjects were asked to observe the shifting value of a hypothetical financial asset and make predictions about whether it would go up or down. Simultaneously, the subjects interacted with an "expert" who was also making predictions.

Half the time, subjects were shown a photo of a person on their computer screen and told that they were observing that person's predictions. The other half of the time, the subjects were told they were observing predictions from a computer algorithm, and instead of a face, an abstract logo appeared on their screen. However, in every case, the subjects were interacting with a computer algorithm—one programmed to make correct predictions 30, 40, 60, or 70 percent of the time.

Subjects' trust in the expertise of agents, whether "human" or not, was measured by the frequency with which the subjects made bets for the agents' predictions, as well as by the changes in those bets over time as the subjects observed more of the agents' predictions and their consequent accuracy.

This trust, the researchers found, turned out to be strongly linked to the accuracy of the subjects' own predictions of the ups and downs of the asset's value.

"We often speculate on what we would do in a similar situation when we are observing others—what would I do if I were in their shoes?" explains Erie D. Boorman, formerly a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech and now a Sir Henry Wellcome Research Fellow at the Centre for FMRI of the Brain at the University of Oxford, and lead author on the study. "A growing literature suggests that we do this automatically, perhaps even unconsciously."

Indeed, the researchers found that subjects increasingly sided with both "human" agents and computer algorithms when the agents' predictions matched their own. Yet this effect was stronger for "human" agents than for algorithms.

This asymmetry—between the value placed by the subjects on (presumably) human agents and on computer algorithms—was present both when the agents were right and when they were wrong, but it depended on whether or not the agents' predictions matched the subjects'. When the agents were correct, subjects were more inclined to trust the human than algorithm in the future when their predictions matched the subjects' predictions. When they were wrong, human experts were easily and often "forgiven" for their blunders when the subject made the same error. But this "benefit of the doubt" vote, as Boorman calls it, did not extend to computer algorithms. In fact, when computer algorithms made inaccurate predictions, the subjects appeared to dismiss the value of the algorithm's future predictions, regardless of whether or not the subject agreed with its predictions.

Since the sequence of predictions offered by "human" and algorithm agents was perfectly matched across different test subjects, this finding shows that the mere suggestion that we are observing a human or a computer leads to key differences in how and what we learn about them.

A major motivation for this study was to tease out the difference between two types of learning: what Rangel calls "reward learning" and "attribute learning." "Computationally," says Boorman, "these kinds of learning can be described in a very similar way: We have a prediction, and when we observe an outcome, we can update that prediction."

Reward learning, in which test subjects are given money or other valued goods in response to their own successful predictions, has been studied extensively. Social learning—specifically about the attributes of others (or so-called attribute learning)—is a newer topic of interest for neuroscientists. In reward learning, the subject learns how much reward they can obtain, whereas in attribute learning, the subject learns about some characteristic of other people.

This self/other distinction shows up in the subjects' brain activity, as measured by fMRI during the task. Reward learning, says Boorman, "has been closely correlated with the firing rate of neurons that release dopamine"—a neurotransmitter involved in reward-motivated behavior—and brain regions to which they project, such as the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Boorman and colleagues replicated previous studies in showing that this reward system made and updated predictions about subjects' own financial reward. Yet during attribute learning, another network in the brain—consisting of the medial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate gyrus, and temporal parietal junction, which are thought to be a critical part of the mentalizing network that allows us to understand the state of mind of others—also made and updated predictions, but about the expertise of people and algorithms rather than their own profit.

The differences in fMRIs between assessments of human and nonhuman agents were subtler. "The same brain regions were involved in assessing both human and nonhuman agents," says Boorman, "but they were used differently."

"Specifically, two brain regions in the prefrontal cortex—the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and medial prefrontal cortex—were used to update subjects' beliefs about the expertise of both humans and algorithms," Boorman explains. "These regions show what we call a 'belief update signal.'" This update signal was stronger when subjects agreed with the "human" agents than with the algorithm agents and they were correct. It was also stronger when they disagreed with the computer algorithms than when they disagreed with the "human" agents and they were incorrect. This finding shows that these brain regions are active when assigning credit or blame to others.

"The kind of learning strategies people use to judge others based on their performance has important implications when it comes to electing leaders, assessing students, choosing role models, judging defendents, and so on," Boorman notes. Knowing how this process happens in the brain, says Rangel, "may help us understand to what extent individual differences in our ability to assess the competency of others can be traced back to the functioning of specific brain regions."

The study, "The Behavioral and Neural Mechanisms Underlying the Tracking of Expertise," was also coauthored by John P. O'Doherty, professor of psychology and director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, and Ralph Adolphs, Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and professor of biology. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Betty and Gordon Moore Foundation, the Lipper Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust.

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Focusing on Faces

Researchers find neurons in amygdala of autistic individuals have reduced sensitivity to eye region of others' faces

Difficulties in social interaction are considered to be one of the behavioral hallmarks of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Previous studies have shown these difficulties to be related to differences in how the brains of autistic individuals process sensory information about faces. Now, a group of researchers led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) neuroscientist Ralph Adolphs has made the first recordings of the firings of single neurons in the brains of autistic individuals, and has found specific neurons in a region called the amygdala that show reduced processing of the eye region of faces. Furthermore, the study found that these same neurons responded more to mouths than did the neurons seen in the control-group individuals.

"We found that single brain cells in the amygdala of people with autism respond differently to faces in a way that explains many prior behavioral observations," says Adolphs, Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and professor of biology at Caltech and coauthor of a study in the November 20 issue of Neuron that outlines the team's findings. "We believe this shows that abnormal functioning in the amygdala is a reason that people with autism process faces abnormally."

The amygdala has long been known to be important for the processing of emotional reactions. To make recordings from this part of the brain, Adolphs and lead author Ueli Rutishauser, assistant professor in the departments of neurosurgery and neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and visiting associate in biology at Caltech, teamed up with Adam Mamelak, professor of neurosurgery and director of functional neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai, and neurosurgeon Ian Ross at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California, to recruit patients with epilepsy who had electrodes implanted in their medial temporal lobes—the area of the brain where the amygdala is located—to help identify the origin of their seizures. Epileptic seizures are caused by a burst of abnormal electric activity in the brain, which the electrodes are designed to detect. It turns out that epilepsy and ASD sometimes go together, and so the researchers were able to identify two of the epilepsy patients who also had a diagnosis of ASD.

By using the implanted electrodes to record the firings of individual neurons, the researchers were able to observe activity as participants looked at images of different facial regions, and then correlate the neuronal responses with the pictures. In the control group of epilepsy patients without autism, the neurons responded most strongly to the eye region of the face, whereas in the two ASD patients, the neurons responded most strongly to the mouth region. Moreover, the effect was present in only a specific subset of the neurons. In contrast, a different set of neurons showed the same response in both groups when whole faces were shown.

"It was surprising to find such clear abnormalities at the level of single cells," explains Rutishauser. "We, like many others, had thought that the neurological abnormalities that contribute to autism were spread throughout the brain, and that it would be difficult to find highly specific correlates. Not only did we find highly specific abnormalities in single-cell responses, but only a certain subset of cells responded that way, while another set showed typical responses to faces. This specificity of these cell populations was surprising and is, in a way, very good news, because it suggests the existence of specific mechanisms for autism that we can potentially trace back to their genetic and environmental causes, and that one could imagine manipulating for targeted treatment."

"We can now ask how these cells change their responses with treatments, how they correspond to similar cell populations in animal models of autism, and what genes this particular population of cells expresses," adds Adolphs.

To validate their results, the researchers hope to identify and test additional subjects, which is a challenge because it is very hard to find people with autism who also have epilepsy and who have been implanted with electrodes in the amygdala for single-cell recordings, says Adolphs.

"At the same time, we should think about how to change the responses of these neurons, and see if those modifications correlate with behavioral changes," he says.

Funding for the research outlined in the Neuron paper, titled "Single-neuron correlates of abnormal face processing in autism," was provided by the Simons Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Autism Speaks, and the National Institute of Mental Health. Additional coauthors were Caltech postdoctoral scholar Oana Tudusciuc and graduate student Shuo Wang.

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Einstein: On the Beach and at Caltech

The weekend of October 11–13 brought a revival of the 1976 opera Einstein on the Beach to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, and along with it an opportunity for the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech to display some of its treasures: prized portraits of Einstein, plus texts and images from Einstein's life.

The principal mission of the Einstein Papers Project is to collect, edit, annotate, and translate all of Einstein's papers—a rich trove of material that includes not only published scientific works, but also his notebooks, lectures, diaries, and correspondence. Einstein bequeathed his papers to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which holds the largest collection of original Einstein manuscripts.

At Caltech, Professor of History Diana Kormos-Buchwald, director and general editor of the Einstein Papers Project, heads an international team of scholars who carry out research for The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, published by Princeton University Press. The series is anticipated to fill 30 volumes and is nearing its halfway point. "It takes us two to three years for each documentary volume and its companion English-language translation, so it won't be us who finish the project," she says.

The latest volume (Volume 13), released on September 25, 2012, takes Einstein through a turbulent 15 months of his life from January 1922 to March 1923, during which he received the Nobel Prize and undertook a lengthy journey to Japan, Palestine, and Spain. Volume 14, slated for release in October 2014, covers the years from 1923 to 1925, documenting Einstein's reactions to the earliest formulations of quantum mechanics. "One of the very interesting things that we discover in every volume is how many projects Einstein was involved in that never led to concrete publications," Kormos-Buchwald says.

Because the Einstein Papers Project is the premier U.S. source for all things Einstein, when the Los Angeles Opera decided to bring Einstein on the Beach to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, it asked Kormos-Buchwald if she could arrange exhibits about the historical Einstein to display in the second- and third-floor lobbies. Caltech trustee Marc Stern, chair of the Los Angeles Opera board of directors, expressed his excitement about the project, and soon Kormos-Buchwald was working with Garrett Collins and the marketing and outreach departments at the Los Angeles Opera to devise an appropriate evocation of Einstein's connections both to California via Caltech and to music.

On opposite sides of the second floor lobby, two exhibits were set up by Kormos-Buchwald and a team of professional installers led by Sam Mellon of Curatorial Assistance in Pasadena. One contained the series of images Albert Einstein at Home, created by photographer Herman Landshoff between 1946 and 1950. The series consists of 12 portraits of Einstein in his later years, a humble man with wild hair wearing suspenders, working in his office or simply sitting or standing. There are six prints of this series in existence; one is owned by Caltech. The other exhibit consisted of nine collages, usually on permanent display at the Einstein Papers Project, that document Einstein's three winters at Caltech (1930–1933); also included were three wall-size color facsimiles, one of Einstein's high school diploma and two of his early hand-written manuscripts on relativity, that were created in collaboration with the Williamson Gallery at the Art Center College of Design from originals held at the Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The third-floor exhibit, designed by Kormos-Buchwald specifically for Einstein on the Beach, and printed by James Staub of Caltech Graphic Resources, featured photographs of Einstein playing violin or piano and meeting with musicians. It included quotes by Einstein about music and his favorite composers, and displayed manuscripts documenting Einstein's support of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra and his relationship with German composer Paul Dessau, who wrote a chamber music piece for violin and harpsichord (or piano) for Einstein's 50th birthday, in March 1929, as well as his own opera about the famed physicist, titled simply Einstein and performed in East Berlin in 1974.

Despite the sea of documentation of Einstein's life compiled by the Einstein Papers Project, Einstein remains an enigmatic figure, simultaneously a scientist and a celebrity. The collages created to illustrate Einstein's time at Caltech give a sense of the sideshow atmosphere surrounding Einstein's presence in Southern California: newspapers at the time reported random sightings of the great man, and Einstein recorded his impressions of the media attention in his diaries.

Einstein's mixed legacy is still on abundant display at Caltech. Einstein the scientist remains relevant in physics classrooms, both undergraduate and graduate, and his work resonates in the work of Caltech's researchers and theoreticians. But Einstein the celebrity is present too: his face is printed on posters and T-shirts at the Caltech Bookstore, the guest room at the Athenaeum where he stayed during his visits to Caltech still bears his name; and the Landshoff portraits exhibited for the performance of Einstein on the Beach grace the entryway of the Board of Trustees meeting room in Millikan Library.

It was this mix of science and celebrity surrounding Einstein that appealed to cutting-edge composer Philip Glass and experimental theater director Robert Wilson when they decided in the mid 1970s to collaborate on an opera based on a historical figure. As Glass reflects in his book, Music by Philip Glass, "As a child, Einstein had been one of my heroes. Growing up just after World War II, as I had, it was impossible not to know who he was. The emphatic, if catastrophic, beginnings of the nuclear age had made atomic energy the most widely discussed issue of the day."

The result of the collaboration was a nearly five-hour opera without intermissions. The opus makes no effort to tell a story, much less recount a man's life, but is nevertheless filled to the brim with Einstein. As Kormos-Buchwald explains, "You have a lot of visual symbolism in Einstein on the Beach. There are the portraits of Einstein projected onto the stage, and for half the opera you have a musician dressed as Einstein in suspenders playing the violin. But there are also elevators, illustrating the principle of equivalence, and space-time diagrams and rockets. You have a child playing with a flashlight and a compass, as Einstein himself did, and there are rigid rods and clocks throughout the opera, critical to Einstein's theory of special relativity. Thus many visual and pedagogical tools that Einstein employed to make relativity understandable are being used in the opera."

As documented in volume 13 of The Collected Papers, Einstein often expressed his desire for "a normal life," feeling at odds with his celebrity. And yet, Kormos-Buchwald suspects, Einstein might not have been astounded by the exhibits and operas, or by a 30-volume opus. "I think he was very well aware he was a public figure. He knew that everything he said would be used and scrutinized in the future."

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Cynthia Eller
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Materialities, Texts, and Images: A Collaboration Between Caltech and the Huntington Library

At an institution like Caltech, materiality is inescapable. Science and technology deal with physical things (or, at the least, with terms that stand in for physical things). In the humanities, however, the role of materiality is less clear. As John Brewer, Caltech's Eli and Edye Broad Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, points out, working humanists have "no Mars Rover or sea urchin to manipulate," so their connection to the material is less obvious. Indeed, humanists often concern themselves with ideas, language, memory, and culture—all of which are mental constructs. "For a long time," says Brewer, "everybody in the humanities was interested in what everything symbolized, which was rather abstract and metaphysical and linguistic."

The pendulum has swung, however, and now humanists are reevaluating the role of materiality in their disciplines. The emphasis today is more on the "stuffness" of the humanities—the way in which all cultural artifacts, from books to blueprints to bus tickets, are relations between and manipulations of physical things. Paintings, after all, are made of oils and canvas and pigments; books are made of paper and ink, cardboard and cloth (and perhaps today, computer chips). How are they created? How are they used? How have they been preserved and why? Their tangible existence as objects is a critical part of the insight they can offer us about human beings and culture, about the present and the past. Even things of great interest in the humanities that cannot be classified as objects are inevitably material; spoken language, for example, involves air, tongues, teeth, and larynxes.

The humanities' interest in the material has given rise to a new collaboration between Caltech and the Huntington Library, a premier research institution in the humanities less than a mile from Caltech in San Marino, California. "Materialities, Texts, and Images" (MTI), a two-year pilot program funded jointly by Caltech and the Huntington, explores texts and images through the lens of the material.

Rather than following the usual model for research in the humanities—choose a discipline; choose a part of the world; choose a time period; choose a subject—MTI is a decidedly methodological project. It asks the most general question in its purview: how materiality, the embeddedness of culture within tangible things, can be most effectively studied and theorized. As Steve Hindle, W. M. Keck Director of Research at the Huntington, explains, the scope of MTI "is not restricted to any particular time period, so it's not medieval or early modern or modern; it's not confined to any particular discipline, so it's not designed specifically, much less exclusively for historians or literary scholars or art historians." Instead, MTI breaks down disciplinary boundaries, embracing the humanities in all their diversity, without asking anyone to water down their specific research interests.

Over-specialization can be a pitfall in the humanities, according to Brewer. The interesting work goes deep, searching out meaningful details and engaging in exhaustive research. But the most interesting work goes deep and then comes up broad, articulating the significance of very specific research topics for theories and methods in the humanities generally. MTI is designed to be a platform where humanists from disparate fields can create the kind of synergy that pushes the humanities as a whole forward.

Two visiting postdoctoral fellows who, according to Hindle, were selected because they were "as different as possible," have been brought on board this year to get the MTI program under way.

The first, Stefanie Sobelle, is a professor of English at Gettysburg College who studies the interrelationship of architecture and literature in late 19th- and 20th-century America. Sobelle's work, she says, investigates how both architecture and literature engage in a "conceptual process of imagining a world and then creating it, in the use of architectural language to talk about a text, and in the book as a three-dimensional space that you move through and inhabit, which often very intentionally manipulates your experience of that space."

Sobelle's MTI counterpart, science historian Alexander Wragge-Morley, most recently at the University of Oxford, works with texts produced by British medical doctors in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to examine how British medics dealt with "the interconnections between knowledge production and matters concerning sensation, emotions, and aesthetics," he says. In his work, Wragge-Morley has found that although the early 18th century was when "these key separations between science and the arts are supposed to have been coming into play, the archives show that the sciences and humanities are much more vested in each other than it's sometimes convenient to realize."

Under the provisions of the MTI program, Sobelle has an office at the Huntington this fall while Wragge-Morley has an office at Caltech. Midway through the year, they will swap, so that each has an opportunity to participate fully in the lives of the institutions that are sponsoring their work. In the spring and summer, each will organize a workshop with speakers from diverse fields who share their interest in pushing the boundaries between academic disciplines while focusing on the role of materiality.

Both Sobelle and Wragge-Morley are excited about the potential of developing more extensive intellectual ties between Caltech and the Huntington, involving Caltech faculty in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), as well as faculty and researchers in other fields at Caltech.

Wragge-Morley, for example, is eager to contact neuroscientists at Caltech who are pioneering "the science of beauty" (a scientific undertaking, he notes, that was announced by British painter William Hogarth in 1753). "I think there are very interesting connections that can be drawn between the types of work being done at Caltech—which we could rename 'Materiality Central,' after all—and contemporary work in the humanities." Meanwhile, Sobelle hopes to talk to Caltech scientists about the models they create, because a model, she says, is "a form of representation and also a thing in and of itself. What kind of models are engineers creating? What about biologists? What about chemists? What does a model mean differently in those different fields? Do they think of the model as an aesthetic object in itself, or not?"

MTI's broad vision promises to bring fresh life to the pursuit of the humanistic disciplines at Caltech, Brewer says. "One of the nice things about this project is that it's one of those capacious things into which you can stick almost anything. It's like Mary Poppins's handbag, actually." Many Caltech faculty in the humanities already pursue scholarship that explores the concept of materiality, and they will be active participants in the MTI program as it gathers momentum. For example, Jennifer Jahner, Assistant Professor of English, studies medieval manuscripts not only for their manifest content, but also for the manner in which they have been copied and bound by hand. Professor of History Nicolas Wey-Gómez specializes in the rise of imperialism and the global south during the Age of Exploration, research that has drawn him into extensive study of the physical maps created and used by explorers in the Atlantic region.

The MTI program also strengthens ties between two world-class institutions that grew up together in the San Gabriel Valley. Astronomer George Ellery Hale, one of the scientific "troika" (including physical chemist Arthur A. Noyes and physicist Robert A. Millikan) that built Caltech into a world-renowned science and engineering institute, also served on the board of trustees of the Huntington Library in the 1920s. Hale's dream was to use the resources of the Huntington to create a humanities division for Caltech, which at that time was restricted to the physical sciences. Instead, Caltech created its own humanities division in 1927, and Hale helped mold the Huntington into an independent institution available to scholars and the general public alike. Today, the Huntington hosts 1,700 scholars annually—170 are funded by the Huntington itself, making it the largest and most competitive fellowship program in the United States.

Caltech's HSS division and the Huntington have other existing collaborations. The Eleanor Searle Visiting Professorship in the History of Science and Technology brings leading scholars in the field to Caltech to teach for HSS and pursue their own research through the Huntington collections, while a joint postdoctoral instructor program draws junior scholars for research and teaching. For HSS division chair Jonathan Katz, the real excitement of MTI is that it will expand Caltech's relationship with the Huntington, "which has always enriched our humanities program and provided access to unparalleled archival sources for our scholars." The MTI program, Katz says, will "bring Caltech and the Huntington together as an intellectual hub for this kind of inquiry."

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Noyes 153 (J. Holmes Sturdivant Lecture Hall)

Advice for Future New Faculty: Caltech Postdoc Association Event

Friday, January 10, 2014
Center for Student Services 360 (Workshop Space)

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Orientation

Caltech Names Thomas F. Rosenbaum as New President

To: The Caltech Community

From: Fiona Harrison, Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Chair, Faculty Search Committee; and David Lee, Chair, Board of Trustees, and Chair, Trustee Selection Committee

Today it is our great privilege to announce the appointment of Thomas F. Rosenbaum as the ninth president of the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Rosenbaum, 58, is currently the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago, where he has served as the university's provost for the past seven years. As a distinguished physicist and expert on condensed matter physics, Dr. Rosenbaum has explored the quantum mechanical nature of materials, making major contributions to the understanding of matter near absolute zero, where such quantum mechanical effects dominate. His experiments in quantum phase transitions in matter are recognized as having played a key role in placing these transitions on a theoretical level equivalent to that which has been developed for classical systems.

But Dr. Rosenbaum's scientific achievements were not solely what captured and held the attention of those involved in the presidential search. We on the search committee were impressed by Dr. Rosenbaum's deep dedication, as Chicago's provost, to both undergraduate and graduate education—both critical parts of Caltech's mission. He has had responsibility for an unusually broad range of institutions and intellectual endeavors. Among his achievements as provost was the establishment of the Institute for Molecular Engineering in 2011, the University of Chicago's very first engineering program, in collaboration with Argonne National Lab.

We also believe that Dr. Rosenbaum's focus on strengthening the intellectual ties between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Lab will serve him well in furthering the Caltech-JPL relationship.

As provost, Dr. Rosenbaum was also instrumental in establishing collaborative educational programs serving communities around Chicago's Hyde Park campus, including the university's founding of a four-campus charter school that was originally designed to further fundamental research in education but which has also achieved extraordinary college placement results for disadvantaged Chicago youths.

This successful conclusion to our eight-month presidential search was result of the hard work of the nine-member Faculty Search Committee, chaired by Fiona Harrison, and the 10-member Trustee Selection Committee, chaired by David Lee. We are grateful both to the trustees and faculty on our two committees who made our job so very easy as well as to those faculty, students, staff, and alumni who provided us with input and wisdom as we scoured the country for just the right person for our Caltech.

"Tom embodies all the qualities the faculty committee hoped to find in our next president," Harrison says. "He is a first-rate scholar and someone who understands at a deep level the commitment to fundamental inquiry that characterizes Caltech. He is also the kind of ambitious leader who will develop the faculty's ideas into the sorts of innovative ventures that will maintain Caltech's position of prominence in the next generation of science and technology."

"The combination of deep management experience and visionary leadership Tom brings will serve Caltech extremely well in the coming years," Lee adds. "The Board is excited about collaborating closely with Tom to propel the Institute to new levels of scientific leadership."

"The Caltech community's palpable and deep commitment to the Institute came through in all my conversations, and it forms the basis for Caltech's and JPL's lasting impact," Dr. Rosenbaum says. "It will be a privilege to work closely with faculty, students, staff, and trustees to explore new opportunities, building on Caltech's storied accomplishments."

Dr. Rosenbaum received his bachelor's degree in physics with honors from Harvard University in 1977, and both an MA and PhD in physics from Princeton University in 1979 and 1982, respectively. He did research at Bell Laboratories and at IBM Watson Research Center before joining the University of Chicago's faculty in 1983. Dr. Rosenbaum directed the university's Materials Research Laboratory from 1991 to 1994 and its interdisciplinary James Franck Institute from 1995 to 2001 before serving as vice president for research and for Argonne National Laboratory from 2002 to 2006. He was named the university's provost in 2007. His honors include an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a Presidential Young Investigator Award, and the William McMillan Award for "outstanding contributions to condensed matter physics." Dr. Rosenbaum is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Joining the Caltech faculty will be Dr. Rosenbaum's spouse, Katherine T. Faber, the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. Dr. Faber's research focuses on understanding stress fractures in ceramics, as well as on the fabrication of ceramic materials with controlled porosity, which are important as thermal and environmental barrier coatings for engine components. Dr. Faber is also the codirector of the Northwestern University-Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS), which employs advanced materials science techniques for art history and restoration. Dr. Rosenbaum and Dr. Faber have two sons, Daniel, who graduated from the University of Chicago in 2012, and Michael, who is currently a junior there.

Dr. Rosenbaum will succeed Jean-Lou Chameau, who served the Institute from 2006 to 2013, and will take over the helm from interim president and provost Ed Stolper on July 1, 2014. The board, the search committee, and, indeed, the entire Institute owes Dr. Stolper a debt of gratitude for his unwavering commitment to Caltech, and for seamlessly continuing the Institute's forward momentum through his interim presidency.

As you meet Dr. Rosenbaum today and over the coming months, and learn more about his vision for Caltech's future, we believe that you will quickly come to see why he is so well suited to guide Caltech as we continue to pursue bold investigations in science and engineering, to ready the next generation of scientific and thought leaders, and to benefit humankind through research that is integrated with education.

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Caltech Named World's Top University in Times Higher Education Global Ranking

For the third year in a row, the California Institute of Technology has been rated the world's number one university in the Times Higher Education global ranking of the top 200 universities.

Harvard University, Oxford University, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology round out the top five schools in the 2013–2014 rankings.

Times Higher Education compiled the listing using the same methodology as in the 2011–2012 and 2012–2013 surveys. Thirteen performance indicators representing research (worth 30 percent of a school's overall ranking score), teaching (30 percent), citations (30 percent), international outlook (which includes the total numbers of international students and faculty and the ratio of scholarly papers with international collaborators, 7.5 percent), and industry income (a measure of innovation, 2.5 percent) make up the data. The data were collected, analyzed, and verified by Thomson Reuters.

The Times Higher Education site has the full list of the world's top 400 schools and all of the performance indicators.

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Kathy Svitil
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