One day while casually reading a review article, Caltech chemical engineer Mikhail Shapiro came across a mention of gas vesicles—tiny gas-filled structures used by some photosynthetic microorganisms to control buoyancy. It was a light-bulb moment. Shapiro is always on the lookout for new ways to enhance imaging techniques such as ultrasound or MRI, and the natural nanostructures seemed to be just the ticket to improve ultrasound imaging agents.
In the newly created position, Jergovic will collaborate closely with the president and provost, and with the division chairs, faculty, and senior leadership on campus and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
In the 1970s, Caltech researcher Aron Kuppermann found additional computer resources in an unlikely place: a local religious organization. In the same spirit of creativity, Caltech researchers today have also found ways to practice resourceful computing.
Frances H. Arnold, the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, and director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center at Caltech, is one of five living innovators chosen to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
Using a novel microfluidic technique, researchers at Caltech have shown that blood stem cells might be more actively involved in battles against infection. Rather than simply replenishing immune cells after they become depleted, new research shows that blood stem cells sense danger signals directly and quickly produce new immune cells.
To a large extent, the brain remains a black box. Taking it out of its case inside the skull and examining it—as in an autopsy—reveals some things, but not how the brain works in a living, functioning being. Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Mikhail Shapiro is determined to reveal the mysteries of the brain in situ, in living beings, right down to the cellular level.
Theodor Agapie, assistant professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), is a 2014 recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Agapie will receive the award from President Barack Obama at a ceremony in the nation's capital later this year.
"Traditional research has studied autism as a genetic disorder and a disorder of the brain, but our work shows that gut bacteria may contribute to ASD-like symptoms in ways that were previously unappreciated," says Sarkis Mazmanian.
"Our group is interested in the chemical transformations that are relevant to feeding and fueling the planet. There are two efforts on this campus in artificial photosynthesis, and I participate in both."
In developing nations, rural areas, and even one's own home, limited access to expensive equipment and trained medical professionals can impede the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Many qualitative tests that provide a simple "yes" or "no" answer (like an at-home pregnancy test) have been optimized for use in these resource-limited settings. But few quantitative tests—those able to measure the precise concentration of biomolecules, not just their presence or absence—can be done outside of a laboratory or clinical setting.