David G. Harkrider, professor of geophysics, emeritus, at Caltech and an expert in seismological wave propagation, passed away on February 18, 2016. He was 84.
Born on September 25, 1931, Harkrider received his bachelor of science degree from Rice University in 1953 and his master of arts degree in 1957. He earned a doctorate in geophysics from Caltech in 1963. He joined the Department of Geology at Brown University as an assistant professor in 1965. He returned to Caltech as an associate professor in 1970, becoming a professor in 1979 and a professor emeritus in 1995. From 1977–1979 he was the associate director of Caltech’s Seismological Laboratory. Harkrider was president of the Seismological Society of America in 1988.
Harkrider investigated diverse topics within the field of geophysics. Early in his career he studied the theory of air-wave trains—the oscillations of the atmosphere in regions experiencing strong shocks, such as a meteor or nuclear explosion. At Caltech, he collaborated with Professor of Geophysics Donald Helmberger and then-Professor of Geophysics Charles Archambeau (now a retired professor of physics at the University of Colorado) to analyze and interpret the propagation of seismic waves in the earth. Harkrider’s work was focused on the analysis of the propagation of surface waves—a type of seismic wave that travels through the crust—and their coupling with air waves and tsunami waves. He led the development of a digital computing system to recognize the seismic signals from earthquakes and to rapidly determine their locations.
Harkrider is survived by his wife, Sara Brydges; daughter, Claire; and son, John.
The Honorable Shirley M. Hufstedler —a former federal judge, the nation’s first secretary of education, and a Caltech senior trustee—passed away on March 30, 2016, in Glendale, California. She was 90.
Hufstedler received her bachelor of business administration degree from the University of New Mexico in 1945 at the age of 19, and her law degree from Stanford University in 1949. After a decade in private practice in Los Angeles, she served for a year as special legal consultant to the attorney general of California in regard to Colorado River litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where she served for 11 years. In 1981 Hufstedler left public service and began teaching and practicing law. Hufstedler first served on Caltech’s Board of Trustees from 1975 to 1979. She was reelected to the Board in 1981, following her service as the first United States Secretary of Education.
In total, Hufstedler was a member of the Caltech Board of Trustees for 39 years. As chair of the Board’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Committee, she was an advocate for JPL missions and programs. Additionally, Hufstedler was an adviser to the broader Caltech community on a variety of diverse topics such as women’s issues and student life, the latter of which led to the Moore-Hufstedler Fund being created in her honor.
She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Seth Hufstedler, whom she met while both were law students at Stanford; her son, Steven Hufstedler; and three grandchildren.
James F. Rothenberg, chairman of the Los Angeles–based Capital Group Companies, Inc. and Caltech trustee, died suddenly of a heart attack on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. He was 69.
As chairman of the Capital Group, where he held leadership positions since 1970, Rothberg oversaw the firm’s rise to what would become the largest stock mutual fund in the world. He also served on several corporate boards, including those of Capital Research and Management Company and American Funds Distributors, Inc., and he was a portfolio counselor for the Growth Fund of America and vice chairman of the Growth Fund of America and Fundamental Investors.
Rothenberg was elected to the Caltech Board of Trustees in 2006. He chaired the board’s Business and Finance Committee, served as vice chair of the Development Committee, and was a member of the Investment Committee. He has played a key role in the life of the Institute as campaign co-chair and as a member of the Caltech Associates.
“Jim understood, at a deeply personal level, how important it is to be involved in the life of an institution. He was a trustee, benefactor, and friend to Caltech, and the Institute is better for it,” says David L. Lee (PhD ’74), chair of the Caltech Board of Trustees. “Jim was also a wonderful colleague and mentor to many; we will all miss him very much.”
In March, Rothenberg and his wife, Anne, donated $15 million to Caltech to endow graduate student fellowships and support research innovation through the Caltech Innovation Initiative (CI2).
At the time, Rothenberg described the couple’s gift to Caltech as an effective way to invest in the country’s future. “I think that over time there are two drivers of the U.S. economy other than natural resources: education—an educated labor force, an educated populace—and innovation,” he said. “As a country, we seem to do better at that than most places in the world. From my perspective, anything I can do to help spur that kind of activity at Caltech makes perfect sense.”
“Jim Rothenberg’s wise counsel and generosity of spirit, combined with his and Anne’s devotion to learning, enriched the Caltech community beyond measure,” says Thomas F. Rosenbaum, Caltech’s president. “Jim was so vibrant and full of life and involved in so many important endeavors that it seems inconceivable that he is gone.”
“It gives you a different feeling when the rover lands on Mars,” Rothenberg recently said of his generous support to the Institute and its mission. “Listening to someone who is going to spend the next six, eight years working on the next mission—it’s fascinating to think about. I want to be a part of keeping Caltech a vibrant and vital place.”
Rothenberg was born on July 16, 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A two-time Harvard alumnus (he received a BA in English in 1968 and an MBA, with distinction, in 1970), he played a prominent role at his alma mater. He served as a member of the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body; as an adviser to Harvard presidents; and as the University’s treasurer from 2004 to 2014. He was the chair of the Harvard Management Company, the subsidiary that manages Harvard’s endowment, from 2004 until his death. Rothenberg was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences earlier this year.
Beyond Caltech and Harvard, Rothenberg served with a wide variety of nonprofits, including as director of the Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena and on the boards of KCET, the J. Paul Getty Trust, and the RAND Corporation. He was a governor of the National Association of Securities Dealers from 1996 to 2002 and a member of the board of directors of NASDAQ from 1996 to 1999.
Rothenberg is survived by his wife, Anne F. Rothenberg; their three children, Catherine Rothenberg Wei, Erin Rothenberg Baker, and Daniel H. Rothenberg; and six grandchildren.
John H. (“Jack”) Richards, a professor of organic chemistry and biochemistry at Caltech whose research was focused on gaining a molecular understanding of the mechanisms of protein function, passed away on Thursday, April 23, 2015. He was 85 years old.
Richards used altered proteins obtained from the deliberate mutation of DNA—a process called site-directed mutagenesis—in combination with recombinant and cloning techniques, as well as chemically synthesized polypeptides (chains of amino acids) and their derivatives, to study the mechanisms by which proteins act as catalysts to perform the chemical reactions necessary to life. Among the proteins of particular interest to Richards were proteolytic enzymes that break apart other proteins; enzymes called lactamases that endow some microorganisms with antibiotic resistance; and DNA polymerases, the enzymes that build DNA molecules by assembling nucleotides.
Richards also worked in collaboration with Harry Gray, the Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry, and Jay Winkler, member of the Beckman Institute and faculty associate in chemistry, examining how proteins transport the electrons that are the cell’s energy currency, including a class of copper-containing proteins called azurins that power certain types of bacteria. As Gray recalls, “Jack, Jay Winkler, and I worked closely together for over 25 years. He was the perfect collaborator, generous with his time. He taught Jay and me and our students the biology we needed to attack problems in biological inorganic chemistry. His work on engineering blue copper proteins opened the way for experiments in the Beckman Institute Laser Resource Center that shed light on the factors that control electron flow in respiration and photosynthesis.”
According to colleague Douglas Rees, the Roscoe Gilkey Dickinson Professor of Chemistry at Caltech and an investigator with Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Richards was a “visionary” who helped drive the integration of chemistry and biology at the heart of contemporary biochemistry.
“What most struck me about Jack is he had this real style,” Rees recalls. “He wasn’t the sort of guy who was just going to crank through and try to wear some problem down. He liked coming up with a really clever, elegant solution to a problem. And early on, at a time when I think a lot of chemists were typically not very interested in biological problems, Jack had this fascination with biology and chemical mechanisms. He appreciated how the future of biology was rooted in chemistry, and he was the leader of the modern era of biochemistry in the chemistry division here.”
Richards was born on March 13, 1930, in Berkeley, California, and earned a BA from UC Berkeley in 1951. As a Rhodes Scholar, he traveled to England to attend the University of Oxford, from which he obtained a BSc in 1953. He then returned to UC Berkeley for his graduate studies, earning a PhD in 1955.
After two years as an instructor at Harvard University, Richards came to Caltech in 1957 as an assistant professor. He spent the rest of his career at the Institute, with promotions to associate professor in 1961 and to professor in 1970. He was named a professor of organic chemistry and biochemistry in 1999. Richards was the chair of the faculty from 1991 to 1993.
“Jack Richards was part of the fabric of Caltech and interdisciplinary science for more than 50 years,” says Jacqueline K. Barton, the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor and chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
Over his career, Richards also served in a number of corporate and governmental advisory roles, including as a member of the board of the Huntington Medical Research Institute since 1999 and as a member of the Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Science Advisory Committee (2001–13).
From 1985 to 2007, Richards was a corporate scientific adviser to the biotechnology company Applied Biosystems, now a part of Life Technologies. Applied Biosystems was the first company to commercially produce an automated DNA sequencing instrument—technology that was pioneered at Caltech by Leroy Hood (BS ’60, PhD ’68).
Richards also embraced his role as an educator and acted as a mentor to generations of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to faculty, during his nearly six decades at Caltech. “He really liked being with students and was stimulated by that interaction,” Rees recalls. “He was able to teach up to the very end. I think that meant a lot to him.”
“Jack was a co-advisor for my thesis work and an incredible mentor. He joyously encouraged and supported risk taking and strongly influenced my entry into the protein engineering field,” says Stephen Mayo (PhD ’88), Caltech’s William K. Bowes Jr. Leadership Chair of the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering and Bren Professor of Biology and Chemistry. “Jack’s advice and mentorship didn’t stop after I completed my degree. He was a great sounding board for discussing research directions, and he provided incredibly clear career advice that was often delivered with humorous anecdotes that made our sometimes intense discussions easier. I owe Jack a great deal and will miss him as a mentor and colleague but, most importantly, as a friend.”
“It’s hard to imagine the sort of changes that you would see in this, in any place, over 58 years,” Rees adds. “It’s a long baseline. But he liked brainstorming about new ideas and technologies. He was a key part of the biochemistry subgroup. If we were grappling with some issue and trying to figure out what the most prudent course of action was, he would often look at it from his unique perspective, and we would say, you know, that’s right. He could really unite us. He leaves a hole.”
Richards is survived by his second wife, Minnie McMillan, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and professor of neurology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. Richards also leaves behind four daughters from his first marriage (to Marian King), Kathleen Fraga of Grass Valley, California; Jennifer Welton of Belgrade, Montana; Julia Hart of Clayton, California; and Cynthia Clapp of Corvallis, Oregon; and four grandchildren.
He will be buried in Nevada City, California, where his grandfather and favorite uncle lived.
Don L. Anderson, the Eleanor and John R. McMillan Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, passed away on December 2, 2014. He was 81 years old.
Anderson’s work helped advance our understanding of the composition, structure, and dynamics of Earth and Earth-like planets. He was a pioneer in the use of seismic anisotropy—variations in the velocities of seismic waves as they move at different angles through materials—to study Earth’s interior, which allowed him to help discover and explain the boundaries of the planet’s mantle.
In 1981, Anderson codeveloped, with geophysicist Adam Dziewonski, the preliminary reference Earth model (PREM), a one-dimensional model representing the average properties of Earth, including seismic velocities, attenuation, and density, as a function of planetary radius. PREM continues to be the most widely used standard model of Earth. Anderson, a former president (1988-1990) of the American Geophysical Union, is the author of the textbook, Theory of the Earth, a 1989 reference on the origin, composition, and evolution of Earth’s interior. A completely updated version, New Theory of the Earth, was published in 2007.
Born in Frederick, Maryland, on March 5, 1933, the son of a schoolteacher and an electrician, Anderson received his BS in geology and geophysics from Rensselaer Polytechnic University in 1955. He worked for Chevron Oil Company from 1955 to 1956, the Air Force Cambridge Research Center from 1956 to 1958, and the Arctic Institute of North America from 1958 to 1960.
His service with the Air Force took him to Greenland, where his job was to determine how thick the ice had to be to support aircraft that were in trouble. “The Air Force wanted their pilots to land disabled planes on the sea ice, but the conventional wisdom at the time was that they would break through the ice and the crew would freeze to death,” Anderson recalled in a 2001 oral history. Anderson and his colleagues found that, in fact, aircraft can land very easily on ice that is not very thick: “Even if the ice won’t support the plane while it’s sitting there, it will allow a plane to taxi long enough for the pilots to get out and then the plane can sink through the ice, or the wheels can poke through the ice. Our job was to study ice strength, and whether you could determine how strong it was before you landed so you would know where to land.” The project continued after Anderson entered graduate school at Caltech (MS ’59, PhD ’62), where he studied geophysics and mathematics.
Upon his graduation from Caltech, Anderson was hired as a research fellow; he became an assistant professor in 1963, associate professor in 1964, and professor in 1968. Anderson was the Eleanor and John R. McMillan Professor from 1989 until his retirement in 2002.
From 1967 to 1989, Anderson was director of Caltech’s Seismological Laboratory.
A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, Anderson was also the recipient of the Emil Wiechert Medal of the German Geophysical Society, the Arthur L. Day Medal of the Geological Society of America, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the William Bowie Medal of the American Geophysical Union, and the Crafoord Prize at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
In 1998, Anderson was awarded the National Medal of Science and was cited for his “immeasurable influence on the advancement of earth sciences over the past three decades nationally and internationally.”
Fredric (“Fred”) Raichlen, professor emeritus of civil and mechanical engineering in Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science, passed away on December 13, 2014. He was 82 years old. Raichlen was an expert in coastal engineering whose pioneering studies of tsunami mechanics have led to standards for designing tsunami-resistant structures that have saved lives around the world.
Ordinary waves are wind-driven and propagate at and just below the ocean’s surface. A tsunami, however, is driven by a displacement in the earth’s crust, such as an underwater earthquake or a volcanic eruption. The entire depth of the water column is set in motion from seafloor to surface. In the open ocean, the waves are hardly noticeable—the peaks are a few feet high at most, and the interval between successive waves can be several hours. But as the tsunami approaches land, the transition to shallow water concentrates the wave’s energy. This rising wall of water, focused by local topography, can flood many miles inland.
That much was known when Raichlen entered the field, says his graduate student Costas Synolakis (BS ’78, MS ’79, PhD ’86), now a professor of civil and environmental engineering at USC and the director of USC’s Tsunami Research Center. But, as Synolakis says, “There were several theories and hypotheses, but there was no laboratory validation of any of them. Further, there were very few field observations. Scientists did not even know what a tsunami looked like.”
This was at least partly because funding for tsunami research was hard to come by. Tsunamis were seen as a threat to other shorelines, not American ones. “Tsunamis were not trendy,” Synolakis says, “and their study was considered humdrum. For almost a decade, Fred was the only professor in the U.S. working on tsunami hydrodynamics. But the students he trained, trained others. And by the time it was realized how important tsunamis are, there were knowledgeable scientists who could rise to the challenge.”
Upon arriving at Caltech in 1962, Raichlen built a set of wave tanks to analyze how tsunamis originate, how they propagate through the open ocean, and what happens when they run up on shore. The data from these experiments enabled him to develop a comprehensive, three-dimensional computer model of tsunami behavior. The first part of the model described the waves’ motions through the deep sea, while the second part of the model described the waves’ behavior within the harbor. The two models were fused at the harbor’s entrance, with the connecting region modifying the incoming tsunami’s waves as they entered the harbor.
“The work he supervised remains the world standard,” Synolakis says. “Nobody else before or since has done laboratory experiments of such precision and quality. Fred believed that answers could only be mined in the laboratory and that the only numerical models that could be trusted were the ones that had been benchmarked with laboratory experiments.”
Previous models had represented harbors as simple geometric shapes. This model, however, re-created the harbor’s interior in great detail, rendering its basins, jetties, islands, and channels as collections of line segments. The waves’ reflections off of each line segment were easy to calculate when each segment was handled individually, and the tsunami’s actual behavior was derived by superimposing all the reflected waves on the incoming ones to map out where they would reinforce one another and where they would damp each other out. This approach reduced the computation to a straightforward exercise in matrix algebra that could be solved on Caltech’s IBM 360/75 mainframe computer—the fastest, most sophisticated machine of its day.
In 1965, Raichlen built a 31-by-15-foot wave tank instrumented to measure wave heights and water velocities anywhere within its walls. Graduate student Jiin-Jen Lee (PhD ’70), also now a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Southern California and the director of USC’s Foundation for Cross-Connection Control and Hydraulic Research, used the tank to verify the model’s predictions of wave behavior in idealized circular and rectangular harbors. He then built a scale model of the east and west basins of the port of Long Beach, California, out of 15 sheets of quarter-inch-thick Lucite. The waves created by Lee’s physical model in the wave tank were well described by the mathematical model in the computer. Says Lee, “Fred wanted a theory and the numerical analysis to go with it, but he also wanted them verified against a physical model. A lot of people would just say, ‘OK, I did this, and now I’ll move on.’ Fred was very careful to make sure that the theory could actually be checked out.”
Raichlen continued to refine and expand the model. A third section was added to reproduce the different types of seabed motions that could give a wave its initial impetus. Other experiments considered a tsunami’s interactions with objects floating in the harbor, such as ships and mooring platforms, or measured how fast different regions within a wave moved as the wave broke, which allowed the force of the wave’s impact to be calculated.
Raichlen was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 1993, and in 1994 he received the John G. Moffatt–Frank E. Nichol Harbor and Coastal Engineering Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In 2003, he was given the ASCE’s International Coastal Engineering Award, the most prestigious honor in the international coastal engineering community.
In his retirement, Raichlen devoted his time to writing a book, Waves (MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, 2012). He also became an avid and prolific watercolor painter.
Raichlen is survived by his wife, Judy; his sons, Robert and David; their wives, Amy and Sarah (respectively); his sister, Linda Millison; his brother, Sonny; and two grandchildren.
Laser pioneer Charles H. “Charlie” Townes (PhD ’39), a life member of the Caltech Board of Trustees and a recipient of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics, died on Tuesday, January 27. He was 99 years old.
Townes, a professor of physics, emeritus, at UC Berkeley, won one-half of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his role in inventing the maser (for “microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”) and its cousin, the laser, in which light is emitted instead of microwaves. He shared the award with Aleksandr M. Prokhorov and Nicolai G. Basov, who independently developed the idea for a maser.
A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Townes graduated from Furman University in 1935 with a BS in physics and a BA in modern languages. He completed a master’s degree in physics at Duke University in 1936 and in 1939 received his PhD in physics from Caltech. A member of the technical staff at Bell Labs through World War II, he joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1948. There, he built the first working maser. From 1959 to 1961, Townes served as vice president and director of research at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, D.C.; he then served for six years as provost and professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 1967, Townes moved to UC Berkeley, where he was named University Professor. At Berkeley, Townes transitioned into the field of infrared astronomy. Along with his colleagues, he carried out the first detection of three-atom molecules (water and ammonia) in interstellar space, and the first measurement of the mass of the black hole in the center of our galaxy. He also served as principal investigator for a pioneering program in radio and infrared astronomy, the Infrared Spatial Interferometer Array.
Townes served on many governmental panels, including the President’s Science Advisory Committee from 1965 to 1969. He was the chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee for the Apollo Program until shortly after the first successful lunar landing.
Townes was named a Caltech trustee in 1979 and became a life member of the board in 1987.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Townes was the recipient of the National Medal of Science; the National Academy of Sciences Comstock Prize and John T. Carty Medal; the Stuart Ballantine Medal of the Franklin Institute (twice); the Vannevar Bush Medal; the Lomonosov Medal of the Russian Academy of Sciences; the Niels Bohr International Gold Medal; NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal; the Karl Schwarzschild Medal of the Astronomische Gesellschaft; and honorary degrees from 25 colleges and universities. In recognition of his lifelong interest in the intersection of science and religion, Townes was awarded the 2005 Templeton Prize. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of London, the Max Planck Society, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame.
Marvin L. “Murph” Goldberger, Caltech president and professor of theoretical physics, emeritus, passed away on November 26, 2014. He was 92.
A Chicago native, Goldberger received his BS from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1943 and, in 1948, his PhD in physics from the University of Chicago, where he later served as a professor of physics. In 1957, he was named Higgins Professor of Mathematical Physics at Princeton where he remained until 1978, when he was named Caltech’s fifth president and a professor of theoretical physics.
During his tenure as president, Goldberger helped to spearhead the development of the first 10-meter telescope at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii—that telescope and its twin are the largest optical telescopes in the world—and he worked to secure the support of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to build the Beckman Institute. While Goldberger was in office, Caltech’s endowment more than doubled. In addition, the Institute’s teaching standards were revised and the curriculum was restructured, and the undergraduate houses were renovated.
The recipient of numerous awards and academic honors, including the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, the Presidential Award of the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Leonard I. Beerman Peace and Justice Award, Goldberger was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society; served as cochairman of the National Research Council; and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation International Advisory Board, and the President’s Science Advisory Committee.
Goldberger was predeceased by his wife, Mildred Goldberger, in 2006. He is survived by his sons, Joel and Sam, and three granddaughters, Nicole, Natalie, and Natasha.
To learn more about Goldberger’s life and work, visit caltech.edu/news/ marvin-l-murph-goldberger-44963.
Gerry Neugebauer, Caltech’s Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Physics, Emeritus, and one of the founders of the field of infrared astronomy, passed away on September 26, 2014. He was 82.
Neugebauer earned an AB in physics from Cornell University in 1954 and a PhD in physics from Caltech in 1960. He then served two years in the United States Army, stationed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, before returning to Caltech in 1962 as an assistant professor of physics. He was named an associate professor in 1965, professor in 1970, Howard Hughes Professor in 1985, and Millikan Professor in 1996. He retired in 1998.
He served as the director of the Palomar Observatory from 1980 to 1994 and as the chair of the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy from 1988 to 1993.
In addition to his leadership of the Two-Micron Sky Survey—the first infrared survey of the sky—Neugebauer led the science team for the first orbiting infrared observatory, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, which conducted the first far-infrared sky survey and detected hundreds of thousands of objects. He and his colleagues also obtained the first infrared view of the galactic center, and he was the co-discoverer of the Becklin-Neugebauer Object, a massive but compact and intensely bright newly forming star in the Orion Nebula, previously undetected at other wavelengths of light.
Neugebauer also played a key role in the design and construction of the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.
He is survived by his wife, Marcia Neugebauer, a geophysicist at JPL; daughters Carol Kaplan and Lee Neugebauer; and two granddaughters.
To learn more about Gerry Neugebauer’s life and work, visit caltech.edu/content/ remembering-gerry-neugebauer.
Immunology pioneer Ray D. Owen, professor of biology, emeritus, at Caltech, passed away on September 21, 2014. He was 98.
Owen’s major scientific contribution was his discovery, in 1945, of immunological tolerance in twin cattle. Using blood typing, he recognized that one of a set of fraternal twin cattle had no immune response to the foreign antigens (substances that provoke an immune response) introduced from their twins. The finding paved the way for the experimental induction of tolerance through immune suppression and for early tissue grafting—which initiated the era of organ transplantation. His later work included studies on human antibodies, the evolution of immune systems, and the genetic analysis of the major histocompatibility complex of the mouse.
In 1937, he received a BS from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and in 1941, earned a PhD in genetics from the University of Wisconsin. Owen became an associate professor at Caltech in 1947, was promoted to full professor in 1953, and became professor emeritus in 1983.
He served as chairman of the Division of Biology from 1961 to 1968 and as vice president for student affairs and dean of students from 1975 to 1980.
He chaired the ad hoc “Committee on the Freshman Year” that spearheaded the effort to admit female undergraduates to Caltech; in 1970, the first female students enrolled.
At Caltech, Owen was honored for teaching excellence by the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology. He received the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal from the Genetics Society of America in 1993, and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, among others.
As a scientist-member of the three-person President’s Cancer Panel, he served as an advisor to Presidents Nixon and Ford.
Owen was predeceased by his wife, June, in 2013, and by a son, Griffith Hugh. He is survived by his son David.
To learn more about Ray Owen’s life and work, visit caltech.edu/content/ remembering-ray-d-owen-1915-2014.
Thomas A. Tombrello, Caltech’s Robert H. Goddard Professor of Physics, passed away on September 23, 2014. He was 78.
Tombrello was an expert in the application of theoretical and experimental physics to problems in materials science, surface physics, and planetary science. His research studies included understanding the damage processes caused by megavolt ions in solids, characterizing the sputtering of materials by low-energy ions as well as growing and studying novel light- emitting materials.
A native of Texas, he received his bachelor of arts degree in physics in 1958, his master’s degree in physics in 1960, and his doctoral degree in physics in 1961, all from Rice University. He was a research fellow at Caltech from 1961–1963, then an assistant professor at Yale University from 1963–1964 before returning to
Caltech, again as a research fellow. He was named assistant professor of physics in 1965; associate professor in 1967; professor in 1971; William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics in 1997; and Robert H. Goddard Professor of Physics in 2012.
He served as the chair of the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy from 1998 to 2008.
Tombrello was a fellow of the American Physical Society and the recipient of an honorary doctor of philosophy from Uppsala University. At Caltech, he was noted for his commitment to student education, receiving awards for teaching excellence from the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology for 1982–1983 and 1986–1987, and, in 1994, the inaugural Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, given annually to a teacher who exhibits “unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in teaching.”
Tombrello is survived by his second wife, Stephanie; his first wife, Ann, and their children, Christopher Tombrello, Susan Tombrello, and Karen Burgess; and seven grand- children. He was predeceased by his stepdaughter, Kerstin.
To learn more about Tom Tombrello’s life and work, visit caltech.edu/content/ remembering-tom-tombrello.
Written by Philip M. Neches BS73ES, PhD83CS, additional material from Peter Szolovits BS70Ph, PhD75ES
Fred Thompson was my undergraduate advisor when I switched my major to Engineering as a junior, and was, with Carver Mead, my PhD thesis advisor. He passed away May 27, 2014, in his 92nd year.
Fred was unusual, even for a Caltech professor. Short and thin, he could resemble a greying Puck when clean-shaven or the Arthurian wizard Merlin in full beard. The Merlin effect worked particularly well when he donned academic regalia for Commencement.
To Fred, the unknown variable was not “x”. Rather, it was “bunny rabbit”. “Why?” his students would ask. Because it was as good as any other name for a variable.
Born Frederick Burtis Thompson on July 26, 1922, Fred served in the Army and worked at Douglas Aircraft during World War II. He earned his bachelors (1946) and masters (1947) degrees at UCLA and his PhD (1951) at Berkeley, all in mathematics. He joined RAND Corporation after finishing his studies under logician Alfred Tarski. At RAND, Fred is credited with inventing discrete event simulation.
While at RAND, Fred worked on a study of what would happen to American cities in the aftermath of a thermonuclear attack. The study sought to provide recommendations on how to prepare emergency services for such an eventuality. When the team developed their answer, Fred was in tears: the destruction would be so devastating that no services would survive, even if a few people did. Fred confronted the unthinkable, and came away a changed person. But this kind of hard-headed analysis eventually led policy makers to a simple conclusion: the only way to win a nuclear war is to never have one.
Mathematical models derived from the bomb models Fred helped develop have been used in recent years to help optimize placement of medical specialists to maximize care delivery and to optimize delivery of emergency medical supplies in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. The models treat the doctors and supplies as the bombs and calculate the number of people affected. Life has its ironies, and Fred would be the first to appreciate them.
Fred moved to GE Research in 1957. While at GE, he began what would become his long-term interest in natural language as the ideal way for people to interact with computers. Fred’s first effort to teach English to a computer was a system called DEACON, developed in the early 1960s.
Fred joined the Caltech faculty in 1965. He advised the computer club as a canny way to recruit a small but dedicated cadre of students to work with him.
He began a collaboration with Bozena Henisz-Dostert, an accomplished linguist and wife of machine translation researcher Leon Dostert. Leon Dostert died in 1971, aged 67. Bozena was a widow at 36. In 1969, Fred and Bozena began a lifelong collaboration which was personal as well as professional; their wedding was the second marriage for each. Together, they pioneered the application of deep linguistic theory to the problem of natural language processing by computer. Working with a generation of Caltech’s best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students, they created REL (Rapidly Extensible Language) in the 1970s and POL (Problem Oriented Language) in the 1980s. The data representation in REL (object – attribute – value – with time spans and open/closed interval markets) foreshadowed today’s semantic web representations.
Bozena was a tall, aristocratic Polish blonde. Fred and Bozena never had children. They raised and showed Borzois: immense Russian wolfhounds. Each dog probably weighed as much as Fred. Bozena walking a pair of them on the streets of Pasadena around the Huntington hotel was a striking sight indeed. Caltech never granted Bozena tenure, despite her accomplishments and reputation as a linguist. Caltech’s treatment of tenure cases for female faculty members in the 1970s was not the Institute’s finest hour. Bozena passed away in 2002.
Fred taught both the most theoretical and the most practical computer science courses at the Institute, long before Caltech had a formal computer science department. In his theory class, students proved the equivalence of a computable function to a recursive language to a Turing machine. In his data analysis class, students got their first appreciation of the growing power of the computer to handle volumes of data in novel and interesting ways. Careers were launched simply by taking Fred’s IS 142 course.
One demonstration of REL went so well that the sponsor thought the whole thing was canned. Fred found out only when he inquired as to why his funding was not renewed. From then on, each demo started with a part that was rehearsed, so it would work, and then an open-ended session, practically guaranteed to run into a bug or an unimplemented feature. That way, the reviewer of the research software knew it was the real thing. Characteristic of Fred, he shared the lesson openly with his students.
As a linguist, mathematician, and philosopher, Fred believed that humans have an internal model of their world. He believed that his model was recursive, therefore computable. People use their internal model to classify and make sense of the data they receive from what they see, hear, and feel. This includes what they read or hear from other people. Without a framework, there is no way to make sense of the input. This theory underpinned his work on computer understanding of human language.
Fred postulated that deep learning, like understanding a new theory of science or a new perspective on life, constituted a change in the internal model, going from one recursive system to another. Further, he postulated that the process of that change was not recursive, that is to say, not computable. Put another way, Fred believed that deep human learning and creativity could never be simulated by a computer. Fred worked in the background for decades to prove this assertion, one that would stand with Gődel’s incompleteness theorem in importance. I’m not sure that he ever did prove his grand theorem.
Fred was one of the three founding professors of the Computer Science department at Caltech in 1976. While Carver Mead and Ivan Sutherland thought about how VLSI would impact how information systems are built, Fred kept the original cadre of seven graduate students focused on what computers were for.
Today, we talk about how computation has so changed how science and engineering are done. We rank computation as the third leg of the stool of the scientific method, along with theory and experiment. The popular term for the field has evolved from Management Information Systems to Decision Support Systems to Business Intelligence Systems to Data Mining to simply Big Data. Fred and his students pioneered the arena starting more than 50 years ahead of the pack.
Fred is survived by his third wife, Carmen Edmond-Thompson of Altadena, CA. They married in 2002, enjoying travel and dancing. They discussed moving to England, where Carmen, a native of Jamaica, grew up. Fred is also survived by two children from his first marriage, Dr. Mary Ann Thompson, Director of Hematology at Vanderbuilt, and Scott Thompson of Chicago. He is also survived by four grandchildren.
Fred was a gentle soul and a gentleman, with an abiding passion for his work and for people he cared about. His warmth and humility complemented a wide-ranging and towering intellect.
Fred viewed his students as his intellectual children. He sought to equip us with a keen sense of inquiry, a taste for large and important problems, and a deep understanding of human realities. Nothing made him happier or prouder than to learn of our success.
Allen E. Puckett (PhD ’49), the engineer who helped father the delta- winged airplane, the guided missile, and the communications satellite, passed away at his home in Pacific Palisades, California, on March 31, 2014.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering at Harvard (in 1939 and 1941, respectively) before coming to Caltech to pursue his doctorate in aeronautics under Theodore von Kármán, the leading aerodynamicist of the era. Puckett’s PhD thesis, “Supersonic Wave Drag on Thin Airfoils,” laid the foundation for designing the triangular-shaped delta wings found on such diverse aircraft as supersonic fighter jets, the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, and the Space Shuttle orbiter.
Among other honors, Puckett won the Lawrence Sperry Award of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (now the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) in 1948. He was named a Caltech Distinguished Alumnus in 1970, the California Manufacturer of the Year in 1980, a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 1984, and was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Reagan in 1985. At Caltech, Puckett endowed a chair in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. Robert McEliece is the Allen E. Puckett Professor and Professor of Electrical Engineering, Emeritus; Pietro Perona is the Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering. Caltech’s Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory, the building where Puckett spent his time on campus as a grad student, was extensively renovated in 2008. The west end of the third floor now houses the Allen Puckett Laboratory of Computational Fluid Mechanics. Puckett is survived by Marilyn Puckett, his wife of 50 years, five children, six grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.
Paul H. Patterson, the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences, Emeritus, at Caltech, and a neuroscientist and developmental biologist who created novel behavioral models of schizophrenia and autism in mice, died on June 25, 2014.
Born in Chicago in 1943, Patterson stayed in the Midwest for college, graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Iowa in 1965. From there, he moved east for graduate school at Johns Hopkins University, earning his doctorate under advisor William Lennarz in 1970. In 1983, after more than a decade as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, Patterson joined the faculty at Caltech.
His research focused on inter- actions between the nervous and immune systems—a connection that was not universally acknowledged in the early days of neuroscience. “Professor Patterson was a pioneer and iconoclast who was not afraid to work outside the scientific mainstream, and who consequently made a number of important and seminal contributions that opened up entire fields of research,” says David Anderson, Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology at Caltech and Patterson’s longtime colleague.
A mouse model he developed has been used to study the environmental factors that influence the symptoms of human neurodevelopmental disorders and has increased awareness of the importance of those influences. Recently, the model informed a possible new therapy to treat schizophrenia- associated hallucinations. In another recent study, Patterson and colleagues demonstrated that the gut microbiome, the diverse collection of bacteria that reside in the intestine, regulates behaviors in a mouse model of autism.
Patterson also contributed to the understanding and treatment of Huntington’s disease, a devastating hereditary neurological disorder, and he was instrumental in developing the Institute’s MD/PhD joint degree program—a collaboration that allows graduate students to combine their Caltech research experience with medical education at UCLA or USC. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and his son, Paul.
Frank E. Marble, the Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Jet Propulsion, Emeritus, at Caltech, passed away on August 11, 2014.
Marble received his bachelor of science degree in 1940 and his master’s degree in 1942, both from the Case Institute of Technology. He then came to Caltech and earned an engineer’s degree in 1947 and a PhD in 1948, with Professor Theodore von Kármán as his advisor. He was hired at Caltech in 1948 as an instructor in aeronautics, became assistant professor of jet propulsion and mechanical engineering in 1949, associate professor in 1953, professor in 1957, and was named Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Jet Propulsion in 1980. He retired in 1989.
Marble made major contributions to aerodynamics, combustion, and propulsion, specifically the research and development of gas turbines and rockets. He also was responsible for the training of several generations of scientists in the field of aeronautics.
A member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, Marble received many honors, including the 1999 Daniel Guggenheim Medal, awarded by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the AIAA Combustion Award. Marble was predeceased by Ora Lee, his wife of seven decades.