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Minneapolis: Techer Highlights

  • Bar Zia 420 S. 4th Street Minneapolis, MN 55415 (map)

The Caltech Alumni Association invites you to Bar Zia and meet local alumni. We will highlight 2-3 alumni and hear about their journeys to today. Join us for drinks, food, and conversation in a casual environment.

5:30-6:00 PM Mixer
6:00-7:00 PM Talks
7:00-8:00 PM Reception

About Our Speakers


Kaisa Taipale (BS ’03) is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota working primarily with the Minnesota Center for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics (MCFAM). Kaisa is interested in algebraic geometry and combinatorics, the mathematical research that gave rise to Math with Crayons, and recently has been focusing on the topology of temporal dynamics of networks in finance and public health. The tie that binds these interests is visualization of complex structures in our world.

About Math with Crayons

The math you learn in school is mostly about numbers. Math in the wild is really about patterns. In these 28+ images from modern mathematics, you will find patterns in randomness as well as randomness coming from strict rules. Whether you want to explore what mathematicians think about or just relax into soothing shades of color, you’ll do it without solving a single equation in Math with Crayons.

Zhang, Kechun v2.jpeg

Kechun Zhang (PhD '07) did his PhD with David A. Tirrell at Caltech from 2001 to 2007. Then he moved to UCLA to work with James C. Liao as a postdoctoral scholar. He started his independent academic career at the University of Minnesota and got promoted to associate professor in 2016. His major research interest is combining synthetic biology, green chemistry and material synthesis to develop the next generation of consumer products. He has received several awards, including  McKnight Land-Grant Professorship, Inaugural Early Innovator award, 3M Nontenured Faculty award, and  American Heart Association National Scientist Development Grant Award. He is a senior investigator of the center of sustainable polymers, a CCI center funded by NSF with a budget of 40 million dollars over 10 years.

A Biochemical Engineer’s solution to circular economy

Our research program combines principles of chemistry, biology and engineering to achieve biosynthesis beyond nature. Why? Increasing petroleum consumption has caused oil depletion and climate change, thus we have to explore sustainable approaches to energy and chemical feedstocks. While biosynthesis is a promising green technology, biological systems produce only a limited set of natural metabolites. To overcome this barrier, we will expand the metabolic capabilities of bacteria to biosynthesize various nonnatural metabolites that are useful biofuels, bulk chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Earlier Event: May 23
South Bay Monthly Lunch