Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that invents the technologies of the future, with research interests from quantum science and engineering, to bioinformatics and the nature of life itself and from human behavior and economics, to energy and sustainability. Founded as Throop University in 1891, the institute was renamed the California Institute of Technology in 1920.

Located in Pasadena, CA, Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA, sending probes to explore the planets of our solar system and quantify changes on our home planet; owns and operates large-scale research facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and a global network of astronomical observatories including the Palomar and W. M. Keck Observatories; and co-founded and co-manages LIGO, which in 2016 observed gravitational waves for the first time.

Founded by Caltech faculty, NASA’s JPL is the leading US center for the robotic exploration of the solar system. With leaders drawn from the institute’s faculty and more than 200 funded collaborations and joint academic appointments, JPL’s history of world-leading innovation has been shaped by its role as a division of Caltech. Researchers and technicians on the Caltech campus and at JPL lead missions in planetary exploration, Earth science, and space-based astronomy.

Research Centers & Institutes

Robots were developed that are capable of self-propulsion without using any motors, servos, or power supply. Instead, they paddle through water as the material they are constructed from deforms with temperature changes. (Credit: Tian Chen and Osama R. Bilal)

Caltech is home to more than 50 research centers and institutes including the following:

Jet Propulsion Laboratory – Founded by Caltech in the 1930s and managed for NASA since 1958, there are more than 100 research and mission collaborations with Caltech faculty.

Caltech Seismological Laboratory – Provides research centers for seismic studies, high-performance computing, and mineral physics. It is the preeminent source for earthquake information in Southern California and around the world.

International Observatory Network – Includes W. M. Keck Observatory, Palomar Observatory, Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, Owens Valley Radio Observatory, Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), and Chajnantor Observatory, Chile.

Beckman Institute – Invents methods, instrumentation, and materials for fundamental research in the chemical and biological sciences including research thrusts too innovative or too high-risk for the regular sources of research support in government and industry.

RoAM (Robotic Assisted Mobility) unites robotic assistive devices, including exoskeletons and prostheses, with artificial intelligence (AI)-infused neurocontrol to restore natural and stable locomotion to individuals with walking deficiencies that result from spinal cord injuries and strokes.

Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) – Conducts nanoscale research at the frontiers of electronics, photonics, quantum matter and technology, medical and bio-engineering, and sustainability. It is the home of an advanced nanofabrication facility that helps support this research. The KNI has been critical to realizing breakthroughs in nanoscale photonics, materials science, and biotechnology.

Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards (GMG) – Helps design strategies and technical solutions for safe and economic operations for carbon dioxide storage, oil and gas extraction and production, and geothermal heat production. It leverages modeling, computing, geophysical, and remote-sensing research to understand how geomaterials fail when subjected to hydromechanical effects.

Caltech designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects’ surfaces. The work is a step toward developing a spacecraft that could reach the nearest planet outside of our solar system in 20 years, powered and accelerated only by light. (Credit: Courtesy of the Atwater laboratory)

Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) - Develops new planetary, Earth, and astrophysics space mission concepts and technology. The Institute is centered on the intellectual, instrumentation, and research strengths of the Caltech Campus and JPL.

Climate Modeling Alliance – CliMA provides scientific information needed to face climate change. A coalition of scientists, engineers, and applied mathematicians from Caltech, MIT, the Naval Postgraduate School, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CliMA is building a new Earth system model that leverages recent advances in the computational and data sciences to learn directly from Earth observations from space and the ground. It will provide predictions of droughts, heat waves, and rainfall extremes.

Resnick Sustainability Institute – Fosters advances in sustainability by focusing on the innovative science and engineering research required to develop technologies and solutions to global energy, water, climate, and associated ecology challenges. From new classes of materials for photovoltaics and photoelectrochemistry, to new bio-chemical processes for catalysis and wastewater treatment, to new ways to reduce the carbon footprint of industry, researchers have made progress in the generation, storage, conversion, and distribution of energy, water, and other natural resources.