During the 2018–19 academic year, Caltech recognized three faculty members with the Institute's most distinguished award for individual faculty—a named professorship. This honor provides faculty with additional funds and resources to pursue their best ideas while they continue 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.
Caltech is pleased to present the 2018–19 cohort of named professors.
Bren Professor of Aerospace
Division of Engineering and Applied Science
Soon-Jo Chung is developing autonomous robotic systems at Caltech's Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST). Recently, he and his colleagues pioneered new flight mechanics via a robotic bat; developed a control algorithm that teaches drones to herd birds away from airports; and used a deep neural network to help drones land more smoothly. Chung is also a research scientist at JPL, which is managed by Caltech for NASA, where he is working to demonstrate autonomous swarms of small satellites.
He joined the Caltech faculty in 2016.
William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English
Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Kevin Gilmartin studies social and political developments in British literature and print culture during the Age of Revolution, an era of social and political upheaval in Europe and the Americas from the late 18th century through the first half of the 19th century. He is currently studying shifting representations of poverty, and especially rural poverty, in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between literary and aesthetic representations of the poor as well as the social and political institutions that aimed to relieve poverty. Gilmartin is also the dean of undergraduate students at Caltech.
He joined the Caltech faculty in 1991.
Assistant Professor of Biology and Chen Scholar
Division of Biology and Biological Engineering
Yuki Oka's research focuses on the study of how the brain and body work together to maintain the body's internal environment, a process called homeostasis. Using mice as a model organism, his group identified a candidate water sensor in the oral cavity that contributes to the detection of water. He and his group have recently mapped the neural circuit driving and quenching thirst, and discovered how pathways in the mammalian brain and body work together to maintain hydration.
He joined the Caltech faculty in 2014.