Hello peoples,SURF is almost at it’s halfway point. It’s crazy that I’ve already been working for this long. Wooo. Okay, now to the stuff that happened.Something really sad happened last week. I’m not sure if you all remember, but a little while ago, I told you about a construct that I was making that had a Deformed promoter. Basically, I have been trying to clone in this promoter, but have been having a lot of trouble. Earlier this week I found out that the reason why it wasn’t working was because I was messing up on a crucial step. -__- . Oh well. Basically, in my notebook I read that we had to incubate the ligation, so the first thought that came into my head was in the 37 degree water bath. Well, it turns out that I was supposed to incubate at room temperature and that the ligase is inactivated in the water bath. So yeah, this is why my promoter wasn’t being ligated! I mean, it’s a pretty fail thing on my part, but at least I found this out now. I would hate losing more time.
Besides that, last week in lab went okay. I did some pretty basic stuff. Tuesday was kind of boring because I spent the entire day at the fly station. I started the morning off by seeing if the crosses I had set the week before had produced any transformants. For one fly line, this produced red-eyed flies, while transformants in the other fly line had orange eyes. I was able to find tons of red-eyed flies, but failed to find any orange eyed flies. Oh well. After looking for these transformants, I set up new crosses. It can be soooo boring sometimes! All you have to do is place either 3 mutant males or females with 3 wild-type males or females. After about 30 vials, it gets a little sickening. :) But, it had to be done and in a few days I’ll go check to see if we got any more transformants.
Like many students at Caltech, I suffer from a slight boba addiction, where side effects may include over caffeination, minor sugar highs, and of course, a large toll on one’s wallet. This addiction is not helped by the fact that there are at least three boba shops within walking distance of campus. So, after an entire term’s worth of boba runs, I came back from winter break with a new year’s epiphany: it was time to get a job. Rather than try to curb my addiction, I decided to find a way to subsidize it.
Research at Caltech looks different for every student, and can often vary term by term. As a chemistry major, my course requirements are on the lighter side for a Caltech major, and many chemistry majors take advantage of the lighter course load to join research groups. This can be whenever the student wants, but many people join labs during their freshman or sophomore years. Some may work in one lab only, and some may switch between labs during the course of their undergraduate studies, depending on if their interests change.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.