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Caltech Celebrates Newest Cohort of Named Professors

During the 2017-18 academic year, Caltech recognized six faculty members with their first named professorship—the Institute's most distinguished award for individual faculty. This honor provides faculty with additional funds and resources to pursue their best ideas while continuing to mentor future generations of leaders.

Each named professorship brings its own distinct legacy. Many professorships, for instance, have long-standing histories, and pass on through each appointment a tradition of discovery and exploration from one academic generation to the next, from one colleague to another. A professorship may also provide a faculty member with an opportunity to forge meaningful connections with the philanthropists who provided the donation that made it possible.

It is an honor to present the 2017-18 cohort of named professors.

Animashree (Anima) Anandkumar

Bren Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
Division of Engineering and Applied Science

Animashree (Anima) Anandkumar

Anima Anandkumar is a computer scientist researching ways to make machine learning fast and practical for real-world use. She develops efficient techniques to speed up optimization algorithms that underpin machine-learning systems. In addition to her appointment at Caltech, she is a principal scientist at Amazon Web Services, where she works on the practical aspects of deploying machine learning at scale using the cloud infrastructure.

She joined the Caltech faculty in 2017.

Diana Kormos-Buchwald

Robert M. Abbey Professor of History
Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Diana Kormos-Buchwald

Diana Kormos-Buchwald is a historian whose research lies at the intersection of science, politics, and culture. She also studies controversies stemming from the interactions of religion, authority, and science from the dawn of the 20th Century up to the end of the Second World War. Since being named general editor of the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech in 2000, Kormos-Buchwald has overseen the publication of nine volumes of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. She is now serving her third term as editor.

She joined the Caltech faculty in 1990.

Steven H. Low

Frank J. Gilloon Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
Division of Engineering and Applied Science

Steven H. Low

Steven Low's research focuses on cyber-physical systems, networking, and the development of smart grid systems. In 2016, he led a project that installed adaptive charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) in the Cahill Parking Structure. The Caltech Adaptive Charging Network uses a smart algorithm to coordinate the charging schedule with the Institute's existing electrical infrastructure, which helps minimize energy usage while charging EVs and allows users to track the progress of their vehicle's charging online.

He joined the Caltech faculty in 2000.

Harvey Newman

Marvin L. Goldberger Professor of Physics
Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy

Harvey Newman

Physicist Harvey Newman leads a team of Caltech researchers who work with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland—the world's most powerful particle accelerator that led to the discovery of the Higgs boson. Newman did much of the design and development work on the crystal detectors that are now used in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), one of seven particle detectors at the collider, and conceived and developed the worldwide grid of networks and data centers that stores and processes LHC data. The CMS is currently searching for additional Higgs and exotic new particles, as well as extra spatial dimensions. Newman also co-led the teams that discovered the fourth quark flavor known as "charm" in 1973-74, and the gluon, the carrier of the strong force, in 1978-82.

He joined the Caltech faculty in 1982.

Palghat P. Vaidyanathan

Kiyo and Eiko Tomiyasu Professor of Electrical Engineering
Division of Engineering and Applied Science

Palghat P. Vaidyanathan

P. P. Vaidyanathan studies digital signal processing—which is foundational to signal representations, digital image and speech processing, signal compression, and digital communications. He has authored more than 500 peer-reviewed papers as well as four books on signal processing. Currently, Vaidyanathan is working on the mathematical theories that underpin efficient smart sensors, such as sparse arrays and sparse samplers, which are used to detect the direction of incoming signals and have applications in radar technology and astronomy.

He joined the Caltech faculty in 1983.

Kai G. Zinn

Howard and Gwen Laurie Smits Professor of Biology
Division of Biology and Biological Engineering

Kai Zinn

Kai Zinn's research seeks to understand how genes control the patterns and functions of synaptic connections in the brain, using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. Many of the fly's neural circuits are hardwired by genetics, making it straightforward to study the contributions made by individual genes to brain wiring patterns during the fly's development from embryo to adult. The lab's major focus is characterizing certain proteins that mediate interactions among neurons and between neurons and other cell types.

He joined the Caltech faculty in 1989.