culture

Caltech Food Tour

Caltech may be a small campus, but it has a large variety of food options. There are three main dining locations on campus — The Lee F. Browne Dining Hall, the Hameetman Center (which houses our beloved Red Door Cafe), and the Broad Café. All on-campus students also have access to open kitchens in their houses, where a dinner special is served everyday and different breakfast options are available. There were countless times this past week that I ate my meal and then remembered that I forgot to take a picture of my food – here’s a brief diary of just some of the meals I had.

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culture local

Love and Rage: My Experience Organizing for Environmental Justice

As a Caltech student, I obviously have a love for STEM. But for me, that love is incomplete without the bigger picture—the role that STEM can play in helping society. That connection between science and humanity served as the initial motivation for one of my primary passions: organizing for environmental justice.

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local culture

Reminiscing on Dodgers Playoff Games

Now that the 2021 baseball season has come to close, I want to take a little trip down memory lane to the 2019 Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs. To set the scene, after an exciting wild card game win, the Washington Nationals (my team) began a five game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers win the first and third game of the series, and the Nationals win the second and fourth game, making game five a do-or-die situation. The final game took place at Dodgers Stadium, a mere 20 minute drive from Caltech. I pounced on this opportunity, going to the game with my fellow baseball-fanatic and Caltech student, Arya.

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research

My SURF Experience

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.

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culture

Musings on a Small School

Whenever I tell someone that Caltech has an undergraduate population of less than one thousand people, their first reaction is disbelief. “Really?” they exclaim. “You must know everyone! How can you get a real college experience with so few undergrads?”

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local

Exploring the Mountains of SoCal during the Virtual School Year

Hi y’all – this is my first post on the blog, and I’m glad to be here! This is actually a continuation of my friend and fellow blogger Tyler Colenbrander’s previous post about our experience living together over the past three virtual terms at Caltech. You can see his post at this link.

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culture

Greek Life or Lack Thereof at Caltech

One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the freedom that students enjoy when living on their own. When most students think about college life, one of the first things that comes to mind is Greek life, with the many sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country. While Caltech does not have Greek life, per se, we do have a unique housing system, similar to that of Hogwarts. There are eight houses and one residence on campus: Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Ruddock, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Ruddock House!

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academics

How I Chose My Major

Coming into Caltech, I was not like some of my peers who, from the first day of entering campus, knew exactly which field they wanted to pursue. I arrived at Caltech finding everything around me intriguing. From mathematics to mechanical engineering, from biology to computer science, all of the above! As (somewhat of) a joke, I would claim I wanted to do 18 majors at once! Once I reached campus, there came my challenge of trying to definitively determine what major fits best for me.

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academics

Moving Back: FCC at Caltech

You’re squished with all your dorm essentials in the back of the car and your parents in the front trying to find parking. Emotions are high: Will you make friends? Will classes be too hard? What’s your roommate going to be like?

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academics

How to take care of yourself at Caltech

So you’ve done it! You’re going to attend Caltech, one of your dream schools, and you can officially call yourself a Techer. Maybe you grew up in sunny Southern California or, like me, moved thousands of miles from the East Coast (where they actually have seasons.) Regardless of how familiar you are with Pasadena or the Caltech campus before attending, becoming a student is a unique and new experience. Life at Caltech can be fun, but it is also one of the most rigorous schools in the world. It is important that your own health and wellbeing is always a top priority, regardless of whatever commitments you have on your plate.

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culture

Living in the Virtual School Year

This past year was so different than most of us could have ever imagined. Living in “the virtual school year” posed a plethora of challenges, but at the same time, it opened the door to new possibilities. As a society, we learned how to better operate in a virtual world, and as individuals, we had time for new endeavors. For myself, this meant taking the leap of faith to move away from home and live with some fellow Techers. While I had already had the experience of moving away from home and coming to live in the Caltech houses, this was quite different. Instead of living in organized student residences with hundreds of other students, a meal plan, and tons of support resources, I was about to go live with just 5 other people (some of which I did not know super well) and we had to find and manage our own housing, food, and necessities.

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Student Life

Pack With Me!

Thinking about being back as a Junior at Caltech this year was nothing short of terrifying. It felt like it was just yesterday that I was a frosh getting lost in Linde trying to find the recitation for Ma1a: Calculus of One and Several Variables and Linear Algebra. Now, I was responsible for being a source of support to the new frosh and sophomores.

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research

From San Diego to Brooklyn: My Summer 2021 SURF Experience

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.

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academics

T minus X days to Grad School (and some unsolicited life lessons)

Senior year tends to differ widely between different folks. Some have finished nearly all their major requirements, while others will be working through their classes all the way until graduation. My friends and I all fall on different points along this spectrum, but we all have something in common: we’re ready for second and third term.

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Academics

My Favorite Study Spots

As the first week of fall term whizzes past, many of us are beginning to feel the schoolwork kick into high gear. While Rotation, the process through which freshmen choose their houses, wraps up, we can begin to discuss some relaxing study spots on campus. Studying is not everyone’s favorite activity but it can be synonymous with learning — and having fun! Here are a few of my favorite places. I’ve also rated each area out of three stars on various factors to give a better picture of each space.

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study abroad global

Abroad with the Scots

After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.

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local culture

Pasadena, City of Roses

Even if you’ve heard of Caltech before, you might never have heard of Pasadena, the quaint Los Angeles suburb it’s tucked into.

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Chandrew’s Recs #2: categories: [local] In Search of Hot Chicks (Specifically, the Best Nashville Hot Chicken)

About a month later it is finally time for the second part of our three (maybe 4??) part series where I take you through my favorite food in the Pasadena area. Today’s episode, Nashville hot chicken.

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research

Chandrew's Recs #1: Bubble Tea!

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.

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Academics

Due Tomorrow, Do Tomorrow

It’s Thursday night and you’re trying to finish one of the two sets you have due tomorrow. You’ve been grinding at the set for a few hours and things have actually been going pretty well, but then you get stuck.

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Student Life

It's Rant Night!!!!!

Vital Information: The seniors now have fewer weeks left at Caltech than the frosh have terms.

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research

An Interview with a JPL Mentor!

Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:

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research

Forging Ahead with Research while Sheltering in Place

The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.

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culture

Rotation Rotation Rotation - The Caltech Houses

My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like:

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The Indian Festival of Lights

Hey everyone, and happy holidays! Personally, one of my favorite holidays during the season is Diwali. The description you’ll find all over the internet is “Diwali is the Indian Festival of Lights.” This is pretty much what every Diwali-celebrating, South-Asian child in America wrote in their elementary school reports about family traditions during the holidays, but it holds true! Diwali usually does involve lighting candles and sparklers, and generally celebrates the triumph of good over evil in various mythologies. I like to think of it as a time of general goodwill and festivity. In non-pandemic times, Diwali celebrations might include with boisterous parties with tons of people and desserts and music. Last year, a couple of my friends and I organized an event in Ruddock House for people to come celebrate, complete with sweets and sparklers! However, the 2020 version, like for most things, has had to be toned down. We got together over Zoom instead, and although it couldn’t fully match the vibe of being in person, the spirit was definitely there. And, it’s nice to think that we’ve started a yearly tradition.

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academics

Reflecting on College Admissions

What do you remember feeling when you found out you had been accepted to Caltech?

In short: I was completely shocked. Caltech had been my first-choice school for years (warm weather, great science, what’s not to love?). However, I didn’t ever think I’d get in: nobody had gotten in from my high school in the living memory of any teacher and my guidance counselor had told me point blank that it was a longshot.

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academics culture

My Best Advice for the Class of 2025

It’s crazy to think that it has been four years now since I was applying to college. I remember it vividly. This week we’re spending some time reflecting on our personal admissions processes, and how we ended up at Caltech. There’s one question though that I wanted to spin out into a separate post: “what advice would you give to the admitted class of 2025?” And I think the best way to do this is to tell a more detailed story than I did in my other post.

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academics

Admissions Reflections

What do you remember feeling when you found out you had been accepted to Caltech?

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global academics

Online School.. on Mars

When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!

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research

AnnABEL's Theorem

Have you ever gotten lost trying to find an address? Have you ever been annoyed by the voice on your phone telling you to “Turn left in 100 ft.” when in reality there is no street to turn into? When you find an address using your phone, have you ever wondered where that information comes from? I think we all have. GPS (Global Positioning System) is a system composed of a fleet of about 24 satellites put into orbit and maintained by the U.S. Department of defense. This technology is used to find a position on Earth by using a mathematical technique, called trilateration. Trilateration uses about 3 satellites, at any given time, to determine an object’s speed, elevation, and position. Most electronic devices come with a built-in GPS chip and use Wi-Fi networks and cellphone towers to enhance location accuracy and calculate its position. Even though GPS is a highly sophisticated system, it is far from perfect! It is not uncommon for it to malfunction when a navigator cannot receive sufficient satellite data or when signals move too slowly due to atmospheric irregularities in the troposphere and ionosphere. This, in turn, can output inaccuracies in location calculations which can cause serious problems in navigation and aviation in addition to unnecessary stress and frustration.

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clubs

How do you manage sports and Caltech?

Usually, while writing this post, I would be at Caltech playing volleyball. I begin school eith preseason, which for those unfamiliar (or are planning on joining women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, men’s waterpolo, or cross country) is a 5 week long period before school begins where the sports teams I listed before practice and compete. My life during preseason is basically volleyball 24/7. Two practices a day (during school only one) and game days three days a week. No school work to worry about, spending time with my teammates all day, a nice refresher before school begins.

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research

Applying for a Caltech SURF!

The research opportunities, offered to all students at Caltech, are second to none! There are many labs on campus, and I am constantly amazed by the ground-breaking research being conducted by professors, graduates, and undergraduates in each of these labs on a daily basis. The best part is that Caltech undergraduates have the opportunity to apply for and obtain internships in many of these labs. They get to participate and be an integral part of ingenious research. From what I’ve heard, this is not the case in other undergraduate programs. Students elsewhere are usually not given such tremendous opportunities and respect, especially so early in their college career. Instead, they are usually tasked with cleaning beakers or secretarial work; not getting the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in class to study a discipline they’re passionate about, firsthand.

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academics culture

Zooming Through the Year

These past six months have been a whirlwind- from having to move out of Caltech housing in March within a week’s notice due to COVID-19, to starting the first term of my junior year, I’ve definitely experienced a lot of change. When I went home in March, it was to a completely new state-my family moved from Chino, CA to New Jersey in January (great timing, huh?). While I missed seeing my friends from home, it was fun to have the chance to explore a completely new place. The pandemic obviously limited what I could see and do, but I got to experience walks through nature and along rivers normally foreign to a SoCal native and had some time to focus on bioinformatics research for the lab I work with on campus.

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culture

Photos From the Time of Covid

It’s month 6 of quarantine and I’m writing to you from Colorful Colorado (also known as the state where it snowed last week and was 95 out today). Climate change? Maybe. International conspiracy by the Greek God Zeus to make me miss Pasadena and Caltech more than I already do? Most definitely.

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local

Hello World

It is currently 1:21 in the morning and I am thrilled to be writing the first post of our new admissions blog, Caltech Fission. For those of you who didn’t follow the old blog, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Andrew and I’m a senior at Caltech studying geophysics and English literature.

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research

Sparky, Stand Back! It’s SCIENCE Time!

Happy Friday y’all! In all my abundant free time (which obviously exists) I’ve started volunteering with the Pasadena Unified School District. I’ve been working assisting their after-school program LEARNS, specifically helping with the Chemistry Olympiad and also running experiments for the kids to keep them engaged in science.

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local

Reflections

After a week being back, I think it’s about time for some reflections on what it meant to be abroad, and what I’ve taken away from it. I’m really happy to be back, but it’s just been almost a culture shock of sorts being back in California, and back at my true home (for now, at least).

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research

CaltechY Winter Quarter Friends Dinner

The CaltechY hosts a Friends Dinner once every quarter to thank its supporters and provide them with an opportunity to network with the Y’s student leaders. Each event features one special speaker. In the past, there have been artists, professors, film makers and more. This time, it was one of Caltech’s chemistry professors, Peter Jonas, who spoke about the vision surrounding the new Resnick gift.

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culture

String food = new String(“Too Much Food”);

Hello, Java monsters! If you couldn’t tell from my EXCELLENT punning, I’m taking CS 2 this term, a computer science course about the wonderful world of Java. That’s one of my new classes for this term. Also included: plate tectonics, seismology, field geophysics, physics lab, and a design-your-own English class about American minimalism as a prep-course for my thesis (which I’m hoping to start next term).

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local

LA Zoo Lights

There’s nothing more festive than beautiful holiday decor. Something that has gotten quite popular in recent years is light displays. Around Pasadena, the LA Zoo, LA Arboretum are a few venues that have elaborate holiday light displays. This past weekend, I went to check out the LA Zoo Lights. The general admission is $15 on weekdays and $20 on weekends, which is certainly not cheap, so if you do go, be sure to take a ton of photos.

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global

New Years in Amsterdam

I visited Amsterdam for a brief two and a half days during my vacation. There were a few landmarks and neighborhoods I wanted to checkout, but did not plan the visit in detail. As such, when it came down to destinations with ticketed entries, I had to skip most of them, since they did not have day-of tickets left for sale. Fortunately, I was able to walk around most of the city and it was generally a good time.

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Spotlight


local culture

Pasadena, City of Roses

Even if you’ve heard of Caltech before, you might never have heard of Pasadena, the quaint Los Angeles suburb it’s tucked into.

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academics

Some Late-Night Stress-Saving Food Runs

Midterms kept up its unrelenting attack on my sanity this week – at least a little bit. And how did I solve this? Two words.

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culture

Caltech Art Gala

Every year, Caltech’s literary and arts magazine Totem hosts the Art of Science competition.

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global local culture

Quick Trip to the Beach

Although there are a lot of smaller things, such as midterm smoothies and milkshakes (Blacker does something similar to this) and some larger things like Faculty Dessert Night, the soc team usually agrees that beach trip is the most work.

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