For the past two decades, Professor Julia Greer has been at the forefront of creating materials whose structures are designed and controlled at the smallest level, giving them unusual and useful properties. Recently, she was selected as the 2024 recipient of the Society of Engineering Science's (SES) A.C. Eringen Medal for her sustained outstanding contributions in the field of three-dimensional nano- and micro-architected materials as well as the development of innovative in-situ experimental methods and instruments used to study the mechanics of small-scale materials. Additionally, Greer is the Faculty Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) at Caltech, which celebrates it's 20th anniversary this year.
Dear EAS Community, Alumni, and Friends,
This month, as we come together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI), I invite you to join me in reflecting on its profound impact on research and the broader Caltech community. It's also a personal story for me, as my own research trajectory has been profoundly influenced by the KNI. As one example, the nanophotonics research that Jen Dionne (PhD '09 and Clauser Thesis Prize winner; see profile below) did in our lab 15 years ago was crucially enabled by the powerful fabrication capabilities in the KNI, as is the work done downstairs in Steele Laboratory today. More than 25 faculty research groups around the Division and across the Institute are part of the KNI family, with research ranging from advanced nanoscale lasers and nanomechanical devices to biomedical sensors. KNI's capabilities are now also fueling exciting new scientific directions for quantum engineering and deep collaborations between Caltech and AWS Quantum.
Over the past two decades, the KNI has played a pivotal role in furthering knowledge and expertise in the field of nanoscience, pushing the frontiers of nanophotonics and nanobiotechnology. However, I believe that the KNI's biggest impact has been on the training of students and junior researchers. The hands-on lab experiences and collaborative environment cultivated by KNI have established a thriving ecosystem for innovation, a place where students can learn a set of skills that they don't get anywhere else on campus. It has been particularly exciting in recent years to see KNI's ‘SURF-the-WAVE' summer undergraduate researchers from around the world come to work on nanoscience – and then also to return as graduate students.
In this edition of ENGenuity, we will delve into the stories of our alumni and the shared experiences that have firmly established the KNI as an indispensable cornerstone of Caltech.
Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science
The Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) has not only enabled breakthroughs in nanoscience but has also left an indelible mark on Caltech's culture of innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration. To help celebrate this anniversary, ENGenuity spoke with former and present KNI directors, staff, faculty, and alumni to provide both a retrospective view of the KNI and insight into its future. Launch the story.
Tim Chung's growth as a robotics enthusiast and innovator, from his early days working with soccer-playing robots to his revitalization of robotics at Microsoft, is a testament to the power of interdisciplinary learning and curiosity.
Jennifer (Jen) Dionne channels the principles of nanophotonics to engineer new solutions for global health and sustainability. Growing up in Rhode Island, her inspiration to pursue science came from watching the X-Files, where she saw how interdisciplinary teamwork could tackle unsolved mysteries.
Aakash Indurkhya is a trailblazer in the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence (AI), which continues to spark conversations (and heated debate) in the scientific and political realms.
From West Africa to the West Coast, Ottman Tertuliano's journey in materials science has brought him to the intersection of nanoscience, biomechanics, and biology.