So one of the really neat things about Caltech is that it is small enough that it’s very easy to get involved in different activities. Obviously if you don’t plan well it can overwhelm you (but that’s true anywhere), but needless to say there are plenty of opportunities. So, when house elections came around, I decided to run for ARC representative for Page House. The ARC (Academics and Research Committee) is a student’s main link to dealing with problems that occur in classes; however, it also runs some really cool programs to encourage student-professor interactions such as student-faculty lunches (where once a month a group of students who sign up get a free lunch catered by the Athenaum (the nicest, members-only facility on campus), and get to talk to a prof). In addition, the ARC publishes a guide to academics for freshmen. In recent years, newer programs have also started through the ARC, including course capturing, so it’s now possible to re-watch certain classes’ lectures if you feel you may have missed something. All in all, it seemed like an opportunity to stretch myself and work to make Caltech an even better place. Unfortunately, I did not win the election :(. However, the next week, I received an email asking people to apply for ARC Rep-at-Large positions and, as I talked about last term, I applied and received one of the openings. However, by the time this happened, it was near the end of term so my first ARC meeting was on ARC Retreat.
At Caltech, at lot of major clubs have retreats. This is typically a weekend or part of a weekend where the entire group goes off campus to avoid distractions and does work for the club. Obviously it also has the benefit of being able to experience some new places around the Southern California area. For ARC Retreat, we went to a house in Corona Del Mar that is used as a research laboratory for the Davidson Lab. The rooms were very basic and about half the people slept on couches or mats on the floor due to size restrictions. However, we also didn’t have to spent too much money for accommodations either, so we were able to use a lot of the budget for food (and what college student doesn’t like food?). When the retreat planning began, I volunteered to organize food; this meant finding a nice place to eat, figuring out breakfast foods, finding somewhere to order delivery from, and of course the always important snacks. And everything I planned worked!! :D
Over the course of the weekend, we discussed how the ARC was currently working, the expectations for the year, and new things that we wanted to accomplish. Each point was well discussed by the group, which we don’t really have time for in normal meetings with everyone’s busy schedules. Overall, it was super productive! To celebrate, we went out to a fancy dinner (using the money we saved on lodging).
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.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.