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2011

Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, has been awarded the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of Information and Communication Technologies. He was recognized for being "the most influential thinker and pioneer" of the silicon age and for enabling "the development of the billion-transistor processors that drive the electronic devices—for example, in laptops, tablets, smartphones, DVD players—ubiquitous in our daily lives." [BBVA Release]

Eric WinfreeUndergraduate students Zibo Chen, Shayan Doroudi, Yae Lim Lee, Gregory Izatt, and Sarah Wittman have won a gold award at the 2011 International Bio-Molecular Design Competition (BIOMOD). BIOMOD is a competition for undergraduate teams who design research to address the control of biomolecules on the nanometer scale. The Caltech team's challenge was to make a synthetic DNA robot that has the ability to take a random walk —instead of walking on set path or track—on a two-dimensional origami surface that was also made out of DNA. The team is mentored by Professor Eric Winfree and sponsored by the Molecular Programming Project. [Caltech Feature] [Video of Project] 11.21.11

Thanos SiapasThanos Siapas, Professor of Computation and Neural Systems, has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pioneer Award. He plans to use the award to develop neural probes for large-scale recordings of brain activity. "Brain functions such as perception, learning, and memory arise from the coordinated activation of billions of neurons distributed throughout the brain," Siapas says. "While we know a lot about the properties of individual neurons, much less is known about how assemblies of neurons interact to perform computations. Our goal is to develop large-scale, multielectrode arrays that will enable the monitoring of many neurons simultaneously across different brain areas. We hope that such arrays will expose new fundamental insights into brain activity, and will find application in the study of animal models of brain disorders." [Caltech Press Release] 09.22.11

Lulu Qian, Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Bioengineering, and colleagues including Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering, have built the most complex biochemical circuit ever created from scratch, made with DNA-based devices in a test tube that are analogous to the electronic transistors on a computer chip."We're trying to borrow the ideas that have had huge success in the electronic world, such as abstract representations of computing operations, programming languages, and compilers, and apply them to the biomolecular world," says Dr. Qian. [Caltech Press Release] 06.03.11

Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues including Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, have used a stimulating electrode array to assist a paralyzed man to stand, step on a treadmill with assistance, and, over time, to regain voluntary movements of his limbs. Using a combination of experimentation, computational models of the array and spinal cord, and machine-learning algorithms, Professor Burdick and his colleagues are now trying to optimize the stimulation pattern to achieve the best effects, and to improve the design of the electrode array. Further advances in the technology should lead to better control of the stepping and standing processes. [Caltech Press Release] 05.20.11

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