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Institute Announcements «Ñaltech.Edu»

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Sat, 16 Feb 2019 00:02:38 +0000
Caltech News tagged with "president + staff + trustees"
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Thu, 07 Feb 2019 18:32:33 +0000
Teagan Wall (PhD ’15) Turns Her Hand to Directing
Almuna returns to campus to direct the puppet-filled musical Avenue Q
Avenue Q’s Princeton and Rod in conversation.
Avenue Q’s Princeton and Rod in conversation.

Teagan Wall (PhD '15), who has worked as a writer for TV series including Bill Nye Saves the World and Young Sheldon, recently returned to campus in a new role as stage director. 

Wall is joining Theater Arts at Caltech (TACIT) to stage the Broadway musical Avenue Q, which opens February 22. As with the original 2003 Broadway play, the Caltech production uses puppets animated by puppeteers alongside human actors to satirize the challenges of young adulthood. Brian Brophy, Caltech's theater arts director, says the play remains especially relevant, touching on topics of racism, sexuality, and social acceptance with "a built-in sweetness [as well as] the power to shock."

At Caltech, Wall performed her graduate research in the Caltech lab of biology professor Henry Lester, where she studied nicotine addiction. She also participated in Caltech's theater program, and co-founded the Nerd Brigade, a group of L.A.-area science communicators. In a recent interview with Caltechmagazine, Wall discussed her life since Caltech as well as her experiencesdirecting Avenue Q.

Caltech magazine: What have you been up to since we last connected with you? 

Teagan Wall: I wrote for Bill Nye Saves the World for the three seasons that the show ran. Then I started working on Young Sheldon. I was on that for most of the first season. It was very different working on something scripted. I went from doing a show about science to a show that uses science to tell stories, which I really liked.

I've also been expanding my toolbox. I'm in an MBA program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign right now just because I think learning the business side of any industry is very important. And I'm directing Avenue Q here at Caltech, which is something I've been begging to do for five years.

CM: What made you want to direct Avenue Q?

TW: Avenue Q is one of my favorite musicals. I saw it on Broadway back in 2004. In fact, I've seen more productions of Avenue Q than any other show. I just love it every time. I think it's especially good for a college or university setting where you have people who are at that coming-of-age, trying-to-figure-out-what-they're-going-to-do point in their lives, and they're trying to figure out how to take everything they've learned and apply it to the real world. I think the conversations it includes are more salient than ever. 

I've been pushing TACIT to let me do the show for five years. I got Jake Mattinson and Lydia Kivrak interested in doing it with me four years ago when we did Boldly Go[a musical parody based on Star Trek]. They are seniors now, and they were like, "This is our last chance!" And they helped make it happen.

CM: What makes Caltech theater and Caltech actors different from other places? 

TW: I think the big thing is Caltech doesn't have a theater department. Caltech doesn't have a dance department. We have EXPLiCIT [the EXtracurricular PLayers], and we have TACIT. All of it is extracurricular and all of it is voluntary. The people you're working with, they're not just under extraordinary pressure, they're also incredibly intelligent. That can be both a very good thing and a very bad thing, because people get in their own heads. You try and convince them to just take a break from that, and it's very, very hard.

The good news is that you can use words to describe what you're looking for on stage that you can't use with other people. Avenue Q, for example, has puppets. The puppets are much heavier than people think, so it's not uncommon for arms to start to droop over the course of the show as people's arms get tired. I can say things like, "I need your puppet to be orthogonal to the ground at all times." And the actors know exactly what that means. People would not know what that meant at almost any other school.

CM: That's true. Tell me about working with Brian Brophy, Caltech's theater arts director.

TW: The work that he's done with Caltech theater is amazing. He really takes the goal, which is providing that creative outlet to students, faculty, and members of the larger community, to heart and provides that in many different ways. Not only do we have Avenue Q going on right now, but TACIT just closed a show called Hallow in the Hills, which was written by a member of the Caltech community based on a series of, I believe, Nathaniel Hawthorne short stories. That is very different in every possible way from Avenue Q.

Then we have the MACH 33 festival every year, which is a series of science-driven plays normally done just as readings, which really gives a great outlet for new authors, for people who want to workshop things, for people who are interested in performing but don't necessarily have the time to commit to something like a musical. In the past, it's given me the opportunity to work with some wonderful directors who I have just loved working with. The number of options for people who are interested in theater is amazing, especially for a school of this size and with this sort of focus.

CM: What are some of the challenges of staging Avenue Q?

TW: There are actually a few things that make Avenue Q easier to stage than a lot of shows. For example, costumes. We have essentially three characters that actually need costumes. Everybody else is a puppet. The puppets themselves are a difficulty, though, because most people don't have experience literally talking with their hands. In fact, one of the things I've learned is that most people's instinct is to talk with the puppets in the opposite way that we actually talk with our mouths. Having to learn to open the puppet's mouth when you feel like you should be closing it, it feels very backwards for a while until you get that into your body and into your muscles.

The other thing is, I'm a dancer, and dancing with puppets is a unique challenge. At one point in the show, we have puppets waltzing. For two of the puppets, it's actually not that different from having the actors waltz, but for two of the other puppets, one of them is maneuvered by two people. We actually have three people waltzing as two puppets. I was like, "Let's see if we can do this." I'm very impressed that we evidently can!

CM: How would you characterize the play? It has humor. It has a lot of bawdiness. And it deals with a lot of very serious issues as well.

TW: It's definitely R rated. That's because of the language. But if you don't have a problem with language, the only other issue is that you have some naked puppets on stage. 

The play deals with a lot of issues of identity. One of the characters is struggling with being gay—especially being gay as a Republican and an investment banker—and trying to navigate the fact that he is a gay man who isn't anything like any of the other gay men he sees in the world.

There's also a song about how everyone's a little bit racist. That song is one of the more interesting ones to me because the conversation surrounding implicit bias and systemic racism was very different in 2004 than it is today—and yet, the song holds up very well. It's basically about putting in the work to fight back against racism while also recognizing that we were all raised in this society and we are all trying to do better. It's not necessarily our fault, but if we can just recognize that this is a problem as a team, we can help fight back against it. 

CM: It's also about relationships and commitment and …

TW: … and trying to balance finding yourself and finding your person. The main character is just out of college and he's really struggling to find out what he wants to do or be, and he falls in love with another character and ends up tanking everything because it's not how he pictured it going. Finding the balance between what is and what you thought it should be is very interesting, especially when you're 18 to 22 and still trying to figure out what you even think it should be, let alone what it's going to be.

I also think one of the big themes of the show is just not taking yourself too seriously. Everyone has dreams. Everyone has goals. Everyone has a desire to feel important and necessary and big, and like they're going to make a difference. Most people make a difference in small ways. Most people don't make a difference in gigantic ways. Most people will never be world famous, but that doesn't mean that the things they're doing aren't important. 

CM: Were the actors familiar with the show before performing in it?

TW: Some of them. There have been a couple of times where actors have heard songs for the first time and been a little scandalized because, I mean, there's a song called "The Internet is for Porn." There's a song called "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want," which is about getting it on. That's one of the reasons I think that a college campus is so great for this show because it takes a lot of things that would be taboo elsewhere, and it allows people to lean in and be weird and be contrarian and get away with it.

CM: What do you think the audience will get from it?

TW: I think the main thing is that it's a lot of fun. The cast is quite small, and they're very close, and they lean on each other so much, and that really comes across on the stage. They are having a great time out there. The more they enjoy it, the more the audience is going to enjoy it. It provides an escape without feeling like you're running away from the problems of the world. It's not cat videos on the Internet, but it also provides a really nice perspective. 

Avenue Q opens on February 22, and closes March 3. Shows are at Ramo Auditorium on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. 

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Tue, 29 Jan 2019 19:21:18 +0000
Caltech Athletics Opens New Weight Room
1,200-square-foot space added to meet strong demand
News Writer: 
Jon Nalick
Closeup of free weights

Caltech Athletics recently opened a new 1,200-square-foot weight room in the south side of Brown Gym to meet strong demand from students and other gym members.

Joe Jordan, assistant director for athletic facilities, says the new space, which features free weights and squat racks, provides users with a third location to work out with weights. The other two existing spaces—a 5,000-square-foot space in Braun Gym and a slightly smaller space in the Barn (located east of the track)—will maintain a different selection of options, including stack and pin weights and circuit machines.

Jordan says that redistributing weights among the new locations means that the older weight rooms can "provide more open space for individual movement and exercise, including floor work."

He notes that users are free to choose whichever location suits them best, but adds that regardless of which location they choose, they will continue to check in at the front desk in Braun before working out.

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Tue, 29 Jan 2019 19:13:11 +0000
Richmond Wolf Elected as New Caltech Trustee
The business leader previously oversaw technology transfer at the Institute
News Writer: 
Jennifer Torres Siders
photo of Richmond Wolf
Richmond Wolf

Richmond Wolf (MS '94, PhD '97), a partner at Capital World Investors, has been elected to the Institute's Board of Trustees, which is meeting this week.

Dr. Wolf completed his bachelor's degree at Princeton University, then pursued graduate studies at Caltech, earning a master's degree in geology and a PhD in geology and geochemistry.

Before joining Capital, Dr. Wolf served as Caltech's assistant vice president for technology transfer, a role in which he managed the Institute's intellectual property portfolio as well as technology licensing agreements involving more than 2,000 patents. He is also a co-founder of two companies: WebEventBroadcasting and Xen Golf.

Dr. Wolf also serves on the boards of the Keck Graduate Institute and is chairman of the UCLA Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Medical Research Organization. He previously served on Caltech's Board as a young alumni trustee and also served on the for-profit boards of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Arxceo, and Micromanipulator.

The Board of Trustees, Caltech's governing body, is led by David L. Lee (PhD '74), chair, and Ronald K. Linde (MS '62, PhD '64), vice chair. The Board is currently composed of 45 trustees, 26 senior trustees, 20 life members, and one honorary life member.

Wolf recently reflected on his personal passions and on Caltech's entrepreneurial spirit.

Describe yourself in three words

Father. Husband. Friend. Caring for my family is my passion in life.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Golf and playing baseball with my son. Something that isn't widely known about me is that Caltech patented a putter that I designed. [The club, patented in 1997, has a pair of runners attached to the bottom of the putter head. The runners help improve the chances that the putter strikes the ball squarely without catching on the ground. They also raise the putter's blade to a level at or near the golf ball's equator, improving the probability that the blade strikes the ball with an upward blow.]

What do you find most interesting or inspiring about Caltech?

The insatiable search for answers to the hardest scientific questions. I wish more people knew how entrepreneurial the Institute has become.

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Tue, 29 Jan 2019 00:05:34 +0000
David Pyott Elected as New Caltech Trustee
The former pharmaceutical executive remains active in investment and philanthropy
News Writer: 
Jennifer Torres Siders
photo of David Pyott
David Pyott

David Pyott, who led the transformation of Allergan from a small eye-care business to an international pharmaceutical and medical device company, has been elected to Caltech's Board of Trustees, which is meeting this week.

Born in the United Kingdom, Pyott spent his early years in India, where his father worked in the sugar industry. The family then returned to Scotland, where Pyott went on to earn a master's degree at University of Edinburgh. Later, after completing an MBA at the London Business School, he emigrated to Switzerland to join Novartis as head of strategic planning in the pharmaceutical company's nutrition division.

Pyott, who also holds a diploma in European and international law from the University of Amsterdam, served in a number of leadership roles at Novartis, including as head of the nutrition division. He was then recruited to Allergan, where he served as CEO for 17 years. He is credited with helping create the medical aesthetics market through products such as Botox and Juvéderm.

Pyott's personal foundation, the David and Molly Pyott Foundation, works to advance education and training in ophthalmology, alleviate youth unemployment, and support those with disabilities. In addition to several corporate boards, Pyott also serves as deputy chairman of the governing board of the London Business School, as president of the International Council of Ophthalmology Foundation, and as a member of the advisory board of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Foundation.

Among other honors, he has been designated a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and has been awarded an honorary degree in medicine from the University of Edinburgh, the UC Irvine Medal, the Semper Fidelis Award from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, and the Moacyr Álvaro Gold Medal for services to Brazilian ophthalmology.

The Board of Trustees, Caltech's governing body, is led by David L. Lee (PhD '74), chair, and Ronald K. Linde (MS '62, PhD '64), vice chair. The Board is currently composed of 45 trustees, 26 senior trustees, 20 life members, and one honorary life member.

Pyott recently reflected on lessons learned over a career that has spanned continents.

Describe yourself in three words

Multicultural. Loyal. Determined. (Pyott has lived in 10 countries and worked in seven. He is fluent in four languages: German, French, Spanish, and English).

What have you learned during your career that you think others should know?

It is essential to learn the business from the ground up and to establish a thorough understanding of customers' needs. Inspire others by your own leadership example, and if you choose to be involved in an endeavor, give it the very best.

What is your passion in life?

Working to eliminate blindness in developing nations. If I had not been a businessman, I would have been a doctor, and the most fun I've had in my career has been translating knowledge gained from physicians into new products for the benefit of patients. I continue to be interested in learning more about new developments in the health sciences.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 19:42:07 +0000
Caltech Elects Two New Trustees
Richmond Wolf (MS ’94, PhD ’97) and David Pyott have joined Caltech’s governing board in recent months
photo of Parsons-Gates Hall of Administration
Parsons-Gates Hall of Administration

Caltech's Board of Trustees, which is gathering for a meeting this week, has welcomed two new members, both with experience in medical technology and business.

Richmond Wolf, a partner at Capital World Investors, and David Pyott, the former CEO of Allergan, were elected to the board in recent months. In total, the board comprises 45 trustees, 26 senior trustees, 20 life members, and one honorary life member.

We recently asked each of Caltech's newest board members to reflect on their careers and connection to the Institute. Read more about Wolf and Pyott.

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Sun, 06 Jan 2019 01:06:44 +0000
Caltech's New CARE Team Provides Coordinated Support for Students
Focus is on early intervention to mitigate personal crises and promote student success
News Writer: 
Jon Nalick
Black and white silhouette of a female counselor interacting with a female patient

Caltech has recently created a multidisciplinary team of professional staff to identify and assist students with academic, social, and mental health needs. 

Jennifer Howes, executive director of Student Wellness Services, says the CARE Team was launched last fall to take "a unified approach to identifying students who are struggling and helping to connect them with appropriate early intervention strategies."

Howes, who chairs the CARE Team, adds, "We wanted to create an easy way for people to bring forward concerns and refer students to resources."

Formed through a partnership among offices within student affairs, campus security, and the Staff and Faculty Consultation Center, the CARE Team grew out of the Caltech Safety Net and Caltech Cares campaigns, which highlighted support resources around campus with a particular focus on suicide prevention. The team continues this work by offering mental health education and training, and also through though Caltech Connect, an interactive learning experience to help participants recognize the risk factors and warning signs of suicide so that they can intervene.

Additionally, Howes notes, the CARE Team is responsible for the initial assessment of threatening behaviors or concerns about student safety that come from the community. 

The CARE Team has an online referral form, which may be used by faculty, staff, and students to make the team aware of a student who may benefit from assistance.  A team member will reach out to the student and invite them in for a one-on-one conversation to learn more about their needs and to begin developing a support plan. For example, a student who is struggling academically might benefit from tutoring support or a connection to the registrar to discuss course planning.

"This team allows us to be responsive to community concerns around safety in a way that's designed to be helpful and supportive to students," she says. "We use tools that look at the actual behavior or data to reduce emotion-driven or fear-based responses. This is for the protection of both the community and of the individual's rights."

Community members can learn more about the team, make a referral, and sign up for training at


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Thu, 15 Nov 2018 16:33:50 +0000
Caltech Mourns the Passing of Harold Brown
photo of Harold Brown
Harold Brown

Harold Brown, who was Caltech president, emeritus; life member of the Caltech Board of Trustees; and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), passed away on January 4, 2019. He was 91 years old.

Brown was president of Caltech from 1969 until 1977. During his presidency, he made significant changes to the undergraduate curriculum, establishing programs in independent studies and in applied physics, and turning the environmental engineering program into a degree option. He also developed a campus master plan, purchasing surrounding lots to make space for new buildings and creating an identifiable character for the Institute. Most significant, perhaps, were his efforts to open Caltech to female undergraduates. In 1970, the Board of Trustees voted to admit women. However, the board made the admission of women conditional upon the building of new student houses, which they knew would take at least two years. Not wanting to wait, Brown pressed for an arrangement that would set aside corridors for women in existing houses. Because of his persistence, Caltech began admitting women in the fall of that year.

"Harold Brown's accomplishments in any one arena were significant enough for a gratifying life's work," says David L. Lee (PhD '74), chair of the Caltech Board of Trustees. "Taken together, the different chapters of Harold's life reflect an individual with absolutely selfless dedication to others—whether students, colleagues across various industries, or citizens of our nation. We are grateful for Harold's service at critical times to our Institute and in our nation's history."

In an interview with Engineering & Science magazine during his tenure, Brown noted that he was surprised by how quickly he became "extremely proud" of Caltech: "It's a very infectious spirit, and as you get to see what's going on, you see the quality of the research in science and technology, its variety, and the really outstanding nature of the people. You inevitably become very proud of the place, very protective of it, very loyal to it."

"Harold's life was a brilliant example of service to colleagues and country, informed by a restless intellect and a broad-minded commitment to talent," says Caltech president Thomas Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. "He memorably shaped the Caltech of today."

On January 20, 1977, Brown was named secretary of defense by President Jimmy Carter and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate the same day. He took the oath of office on January 21, becoming the first scientist to hold the position, in which he remained until January 1981.

As secretary, Brown helped to develop and presided over America's nuclear arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles, bombers, and nuclear submarines, and negotiated the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

After his tenure in the DOD, Brown became chairman of the Foreign Policy Institute of The Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and was a distinguished visiting professor at the Nitze School until 1992. He was a retired partner in Warburg Pincus LLC, a director of Chemical Engineering Partners and of Philip Morris International, and a trustee emeritus of RAND and of the Trilateral Commission (North America). Brown served as counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies from 1992 until his passing.

Harold Brown was born on September 19, 1927, in New York, New York. He graduated from Columbia University with an AB degree in 1945, an AM in 1946, and a PhD in physics in 1949, at the age of 21. After working as a teacher and doing postdoctoral research for a short time, Brown joined the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley in 1950. When the lab's offshoot, the E.O. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Livermore, California, was founded in 1952, Brown became a staff member. He became the lab's director in 1960.

He served as the director of defense research and engineering in the DOD from 1961–65 and as secretary of the Air Force from 1965–69.

Among other advisory positions, Brown was a consultant to the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board from 1956–57 and a member of the board from 1958–61; a member of the Polaris Steering Committee from 1956–58; Senior Scientific Advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the Conference on Discontinuance of Nuclear Weapons Tests from November 1958 to February 1959; and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Ballistic Missiles to the secretary of defense from 1958–61. Brown also was a consultant to several panels of the President's Science Advisory Committee from 1958 to 1960 and was appointed a member of the Committee in 1961.

Brown was reelected to the Caltech Board of Trustees in 1985 and was made a life member in 2010. During his tenure on the board, Brown served as a member of the Executive Committee, the Audit and Compliance Committee, the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the Business and Finance Committee, the Investment Committee, and the Nominating Committee. At the time of his death, he was a consulting participant of the Technology Transfer Committee and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Committee.

Among his many honors, Brown was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1981) and the Fermi Award (1993), and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the National Academy of Engineering.

Colene Brown, his wife of more than six decades, passed away last year. He is survived by daughters Deborah and Ellen and other family.

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Fri, 05 Oct 2018 20:57:45 +0000
A Conversation with April Castañeda
The leader of Caltech’s equity office talks about her new role and why putting everything under one roof will benefit the Institute.
News Writer: 
Judy Hill
photo of April Castañeda
April Castañeda, who recently stepped into the newly created position of assistant vice president for equity and equity investigations and Title IX coordinator at Caltech.
Credit: Caltech

April Castañeda—who recently stepped into the newly created position of assistant vice president for equity and equity investigations and Title IX coordinator at Caltech—is charged with designing and implementing a comprehensive approach to all issues pertaining to discrimination, unlawful harassment, and sexual misconduct. Though the role is new for both the Institute and Castañeda, she is no stranger to 1200 East California Boulevard, having served in a variety of roles at Caltech (in the provost's and president's offices, as well as Human Resources) for more than 20 years before a recent two-year stint as the assistant director for human resources at JPL.

What is the scope of the job? How is it different from the Title IX office that used to exist?

The office now includes not just Title IX [a law that covers discrimination on the basis of sex] but also Title VII and Title VI. Title VII covers discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Title VI is the same thing but applies to federal contractors. And because we take federal money, that applies to us as well. We also have state regulations, and California has about 40 different protected classes. So anything that involves a protected class comes into this office.

And this office used to be part of Student Affairs but is now part of Human Resources …?

Although the office is now part of HR, we maintain very close connections with Student Affairs, working closely with the vice president, the deans and the many other offices that serve our students. We're also in the process of hiring an education and deputy Title IX coordinator for Student Affairs to ensure that the needs of the student community are met. The office deals with all constituents, so that's staff, faculty, postdocs, and students—both grad and undergrad.

How do these changes benefit the Caltech community?

For us, especially with the size of Caltech, it makes a lot of sense to create one equity office. There were times in the past where people had to figure out, "Where do I go? OK, I feel like it's discrimination. Is it sex discrimination? Is it race? If it's sex discrimination, I have to go to this office; if it's race, I go to that office." Whereas here, all you have to know is, "OK, that's the office that I go to if any discrimination or harassment or sexual misconduct happens."

I also think the combination of HR and Student Affairs is really powerful. We get to see all the different constituents, so we learn how they're all experiencing it—from the faculty side to the student side to the staff side to postdocs—making our investigations, outcomes, and solutions stronger.

We also have a lead investigator [a new position], Brian Quillen, who is focused on the equity office model and dedicated to it and has that expertise. That's a real strength because one of the things that we find is that with Title IX, the laws change, the regulations change. ... It's a burgeoning field. Having a lead investigator who is keeping up on those changes makes for a really strong program.

And as I said, we're also hiring a full-time community educator who will do preventative outreach. That person will be in the residences, working with grads and undergrads, getting to know the students, really understanding the culture.

How do you encourage people to come forward, and how do you make that process as comfortable as possible?

My whole career has been spent talking to people about difficult things. My approach is always that it is a privilege to be there in a person's life at a moment when they really need help, so I try to handle it with care and respect.

We also want to make this process as easy and as approachable as possible, as well as being impartial and fair. Having good investigations brings closure for people. When something happens in a community, the only way that you can become resilient is to feel like you had a fair process, it got closed, and now you are able to move on.

Some people come in and say, "I need an investigation. I want to get down to what happened, I want the fact-finding part." And we provide that. But it doesn't always reach the level of an investigation. And then there are lots of people who just come in for consultation. I tell people before we start, if you want to just tell me what happened, I'm happy to do that, too. And then they might come back later and be ready to share names.

The nice thing about Title IX is that the person who's reporting the incident has a lot of ability to dictate what happens. They often can come in and file a report without us taking action. I follow where they lead. That said, there are things we have to move on if we feel like there's a danger to a community or to themselves.

How has your career prepared you for this role?

I have done so many things in my life that really mesh well with this role, so I feel like I'm bringing all those different pieces of me into this job. When I was in grad school at USC [where Castañeda earned a master's degree in social work], I did my internship here in Caltech's Staff and Faculty Consultation Center. They asked me to stay on, and I worked full-time, but they let me work four 10-hour days, so that left me a day a week and the weekends to do trauma consulting. I then became a diversity liaison under David Baltimore, when he was president. From there, I came into HR as the head of staff education and development, and ultimately became executive director of Human Resources. About two and a half years ago, JPL asked me to come over there as assistant director of Human Resources to work on building communication and getting the different branches of HR to all grow in the same direction.

What does success look like for the equity office?

I'll know it's successful if the number of our cases goes down and the number of our office visits goes up. I want people to come in before things escalate. Absolutely there are times where we need to do an investigation, but there are also lots of things that we can do to build inclusive communities. We want people to worry about school, work, their research, winning Nobel Prizes. ... We don't want them to worry about, "Am I safe? Am I OK?"

What are some of your short-term goals for the program?

We've heard lots of feedback from people that they find our policy really daunting. It's a 25-page policy with lots and lots of process. It's a solid policy, with everything you could ever want in a policy. But when you're in a crisis, you don't want to have to sit down and read a 25-page legal policy. So, making guidelines that are easier to read and updating the language so that it's clear, concise, and relatable is really important.

Another goal is setting clear communication standards for what the equity office and Title IX is, so people really understand who we are. That involves changing everything from the look and feel of the Title IX website to how we engage the community.

We're also using data to inform our work and our practices. We're looking at the numbers of visits, the kinds of things people are coming in for. It's so important to have data so that you can really look and see what's happening without being prejudiced by your emotion.

What motivates you to do this work?

I've spent most of my career doing things that are engaged around social justice. It's important to me that people have the rights and the ability to do good work.

When I first came to Caltech, I was reluctant to be an intern here because before then I had always worked with underserved populations, and here I saw a lot of privilege. My adviser at the time said to me, "April, pain is pain, no matter if it's in a suit or on the street." And she said, "You have to decide. If you're trying to alleviate pain and help good things happen, there's a place for you here."

But I also do this kind of work for my 10-year-old daughter. Because what we do here sets precedent, and it changes how other people will experience college and education and work.

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Sat, 22 Sep 2018 17:39:43 +0000
Caltech Mentor’s Legacy Lives on through a New Graduate Fellowship
Anneila Sargent (MS ’67, PhD ’78) and the late Wallace Sargent
Anneila Sargent (MS ’67, PhD ’78) and the late Wallace Sargent

Anneila Sargent (MS '67, PhD '78), Caltech's Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus, has made a gift to establish the Wallace L. W. Sargent Fellowship. With this fellowship, she is supporting tomorrow's scientists and engineers while also honoring her late husband. Wallace "Wal" Sargent, former Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy, served on the Caltech faculty from 1966 until his death in 2012.

Read more on the Break Through campaign website.

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President Rosenbaum Highlights Postdocs as "Unsung Heroes"
In a letter to the Caltech community during Postdoc Appreciation Week, the President emphasizes the role this key group plays at the Institute.
National Postdoc Association Logo

Postdoctoral Scholars contribute mightily to research on campus and to Caltech's standing in the world. More than 600 postdocs are on campus this year, spread across all six divisions. They make their influence felt across the academic enterprise, carrying out experiments, devising theories, mentoring students, setting intellectual directions, and conveying the power of science to the general public. Caltech postdocs have made scientific and technological contributions at the highest levels, garnering, for example, 14 Nobel Prizes and 14 National Medals of Science over the years. 

The start of National Postdoc Appreciation Week is a most appropriate time to recognize the unsung heroes in our midst. To that end, the Institute recently created a central postdoctoral office to supplement the support provided in the divisions. We are also buttressing career placement services in order to make sure that our postdocs are well-positioned to maximize their impact on society as they move on to the next stages of their careers.

Caltech's mission of world-leading research and education depends crucially on our postdoctoral scholars. Although their time at Caltech may be short, they quickly become vital parts of the Institute's intellectual fabric. In the words of Herman Hesse:  "Where paths that have an affinity for each other intersect, the whole world looks like home for a time." A heartfelt thank you to the Caltech Postdoc Association for your partnership and to all our postdoctoral scholars for making Caltech home.

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