Seminar Day

Alumni Virtual Experience

Saturday · May 15, 2021
9 AM – 3 PM PT

Caltech’s 84th annual Seminar Day tradition continues, live via Zoom!

Join President Thomas F. Rosenbaum and award-winning journalist Patt Morrison to hear about cutting-edge investigations from alumni and researchers across campus and JPL.

This is your once-a-year opportunity to connect with Caltech scientists and engineers who are transforming science and society.

Session I

The Supermassive Black Hole Story

9:00 AM · PT

Andrea Ghez, PhD

Caltech degrees: 
MS
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89
PhD
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92
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Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Professor of Astrophysics, UCLA
Director, UCLA Galactic Center Group
Read Bio

Hear 2020 Nobel Prize recipient Andrea Ghez (MS ’89, PhD ’92) discuss her groundbreaking research, including the discovery of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Ghez’s investigations of more than 3,000 stars that orbit the supermassive black hole, led to her renowned study, published in July 2019 by Science magazine, questioning Einstein’s theory of relativity. Even after this incredible accomplishment, Ghez is set on further breakthroughs. “Our understanding of how the universe works is still so incomplete,” she says. “The Nobel Prize is fabulous, but we still have a lot to learn.”

Session II

Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Meet Your Best Friend: AI

10:25 AM · PT

Imagine a world where your smartwatch diagnoses disease symptoms, or a text alerts you about an oncoming stroke. What if your home 3-D printer could create a skin patch to dispense your medication, or AI could read, analyze, and submit biodata to your healthcare provider 24/7? In this panel, leading faculty researchers and alumni experts will describe breakthroughs occurring at Caltech and with healthcare and pharmaceutical industry partners. Hear about the advances that lie ahead and the challenges that remain, such as data security. Find out how close we are to a new, tech-driven healthcare future.

Animashree (Anima) Anandkumar, PhD

Caltech degrees: 
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 ’
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Bren Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
Co-director, DOLCIT (Decision, Optimization, and Learning at the California Institute of Technology)
Director of Machine Learning Research, NVIDIA
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Christie Canaria, PhD

Caltech degrees: 
PhD
 ’
08
 ’
 ’
Program Director, National Cancer Institute Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Development Center
Vice Chair, Governance, Caltech Alumni Association Board of Directors
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David Van Valen, PhD, MD

Caltech degrees: 
PhD
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11
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Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering
Read Bio
MODERATOR

Satoshi Ohtake, PhD

Caltech degrees: 
BS
 ’
00
 ’
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Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Pfizer
Chair, Caltech Alumni Association Board of Directors
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Session III

Photoacoustic Imaging: From Organelles to Cancer Patients

12:30 PM · PT

Lihong Wang, PhD

Caltech Degrees: 
 ’
 ’
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Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering
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Using a combination of light and sound, Lihong Wang is noninvasively peering deeper inside biological tissues than previously possible. Three-dimensional photoacoustic microscopy and functional photoacoustic computed tomography, technologies first reported by Wang, generate detailed color images of tumors and other structures inside the body. His novel imaging techniques have applications for medical screening, diagnosis, disease monitoring, surgical guidance, and more.

Session IV

Is There Life Beyond Earth?

1:55 PM · PT

Using clues from the ancient history of our planet and present-day environments on Earth’s ocean floors, panelists will lead an engaging discussion of the prospects for life throughout the Milky Way galaxy and how to carry out the search. Rove ancient lakebeds on Mars, explore the ocean under the icy crust of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and learn about the giant telescopes needed to search for life beyond our solar system.

Heather A. Knutson, PhD

Caltech Degrees: 
 ’
 ’
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Professor of Planetary Science
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Kevin Peter Hand, PhD

Caltech Degrees: 
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Principal Investigator and Director, JPL Ocean Worlds Laboratory
Project Scientist, Europa Lander Mission Concept
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Woodward (Woody) Fischer, PhD

Caltech Degrees: 
 ’
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Professor of Geobiology
Associate Director, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies
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MODERATOR

Michael E. (Mike) Brown, PhD

Caltech Degrees: 
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Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy
Terence D. Barr Leadership Chair, Center for Comparative Planetary Evolution
Director, Caltech Center for Comparative Planetary Evolution
Read Bio

This event has concluded. Thank you to all attendees!

Scroll down for more information about session recordings.

David Ho (BS ’74)

Session I

SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic

This presentation provided an overview of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus now termed SARS-CoV-2. Prospect for science to deliver therapeutic and prophylactic solutions was discussed as well.

David Ho (BS ’74)

Distinguished Alumnus and Caltech Trustee; Director, Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center; Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Medicine, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Azita Emami (left) and Katherine Bouman

Session II

Sensing to Intelligence: From the Human Body to Black Holes in Space

In this session, Caltech professors Azita Emami and Katherine Bouman discussed a holistic approach that brings together the two distinct fields of sensor technology and artificial intelligence through the co-design of sensors and algorithms. The aim is to create sensor networks that intelligently and autonomously process their own data and adapt their activity in real time based on what they detect, enabling transformative discoveries in areas ranging from neural signals in the human body to black holes in space.

Katherine Bouman

Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Electrical Engineering; Rosenberg Scholar

Azita Emami

Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; Executive Officer for Electrical Engineering

Michael Watkins

Session III

The Mars 2020 Mission and Robotic Exploration at JPL

Over the last 50 years, JPL spacecraft have visited every planet in our solar system and we have had continuous robotic presence on the surface of Mars for over 20 years. This presentation discussed the new Mars rover, Perseverance, and highlighted its science goals and current assembly in preparation for the upcoming July 2020 launch.

Michael Watkins

Vice President and Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Professor of Aerospace and Geophysics

Jean-Laurent Rosenthal (PhD ’88)

Session IV

Pandemics and the Economy; Lessons from History

Putting the COVID-19 pandemic in historical context helps underscore an unprecedented willingness to reduce economic activity to save lives. What are the consequences of this approach for the long term? Can history help us envision our post-COVID future?

Jean-Laurent Rosenthal (PhD ’88)

Rea A. and Lela G. Axline Professor of Business Economics; Ronald and Maxine Linde Leadership Chair, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Also Featured

Thomas F. Rosenbaum

President, Caltech; Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and Professor of Physics

Patt Morrison

Los Angeles Times Columnist and Television and Radio Host with six Emmys and a share of two Pulitzer Prizes; Best-Selling Author

Chris Bryant (BS ’95)

President, Caltech Alumni Association

Ralph Amos

Assistant Vice President, Alumni Relations; Executive Director, Caltech Alumni Association