clubs

Exploring the Other Side of Seoul, or Walking, Walking, Walking

On Monday we rode the subway a lot. It was pretty cheap, about a dollar to go anywhere in the city. I had not used public transport very much before I came to Korea, so it was interesting to me.

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global

Arriving in London

Traveling the world is so important to me that as a high school senior I applied only to colleges with study abroad programs. Four years later, I’m finally taking advantage of Caltech’s awesome study abroad opportunities! I’m spending this term at University College London (UCL), “London’s Global University.” I’ve been in London a week now and both the city and the university are amazing! If you’re at all interested in potentially studying abroad in college, Caltech is a great place to make it happen. The Study Abroad office, https://fasa.caltech.edu/StudyAbroad.shtml, is staffed by people who are very accessible, helpful, and encouraging.

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research

Our Energy, Our Power

A long, long time ago, I blogged about a really cool event the sustainability office sponsored on campus where they a lot of the people who deal with Caltech waste / energy / water speak and answer questions. I still didn’t know too much about Pasadena’s energy, though, and Caltech does use a bunch of it.

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research

Last Week

Suddenly it was our last week at GIST and we had many invitations to many delicious meals. First the dean took all of us Caltech students out to lunch. We ate many different delicious dishes. At the end of dinner we had a very interesting porridge. Rice is traditionally cooked in big wide iron pots (from before rice cookers) but some of the rice would adhere to the sides of the pot. In order to clean the pot and to not waste rice, they would pour water into the pot and scrape off the rice to make a porridge. The rice for our meal was served out of a hot iron pot, so they made us a little porridge at the end of the meal. It didn’t have a lot of flavor, but I liked it anyway. It was nice to have something plain and simple after all that spicy food.

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culture

Rotation! (or figuring out where you're going to live at Caltech)

Your first room at Caltech is randomly assigned to you. If you have a roommate, the only consideration taken into that choice is gender. Gulp.

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culture

Temple Stay

I noticed this post had a lot of text so I decided to add in pictures of the temple area to break up the text sometimes.

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clubs

Pre-Frosh, Fighter Jets, the Navy Patrol, and Stingrays

The Caltech Y organizes a bunch of events, and I’ve led a few. When I signed up to take a bunch of pre-frosh on a kayaking / beach orientation trip with Ted (another smore), I didn’t expect it to be eventful. You know, we’ll go kayaking for two hours, eat lunch, head to the beach, and drive back. That’s similar to my orientation trip - I did the community service trip, so we headed to a gibbon center, helped them make a fire barrier, and then got a tour of the center and drove back. The Dean’s office was taking care of lunches and transportation, so what would I have to do? That’s kind of, but not quite, how it turned out! Organizing the trip was easy. When we got there, the place we rented kayaks from was very chill and everyone got on the boats fast. It was a beautiful place to kayak!!!

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research

Scary Etiquettes and Icky Food

I’m slightly obsessed with what I put in my body. For me, humans, life, and basically everything just boils down to a bunch of chemistry (yup, philosophy and all that stuff is just electrochem and … more reactions! in our brain / nervous system / somewhere in our body. I saw a paper today that was talking about discovering these proteins with strong absorbance at 450 nm (yups, that’s my protein - read on) and it just goes to reinforce that just because we don’t understand something or even possibly know it exists, there is some explination for it in the chemical world). Humans are just particularily interesting and super-well partitioned chemical systems, but in the end, that’s really all I think we are. So, I care about what I’m putting into my reaction - ME! - a lot. Small impurities (like rattle snake venom, or just some icky chemicals in our food) might not make a lot of difference, or they might make all the difference in the world, so I try to keep them out. [Of course, it all depends on what you are trying to do - tiny amounts of oxygen aren’t so great in my flash-quench experiments where it acts as a quencher I don’t know the concentration of, but the protein I use in these flash-quench experiments needs molecular oxygen in our body to catalyze the great C-H bond activation rxn. It’s a really cool protein!] But since I’d like to keep all my proteins functioning until I get really old (indeed, my particular protein, cytochrome P450, is associated with aging) I try not to put in anything in my beaker that is going to do facinating chemistry - and then make it really hard for me to spend a good old life think about it:) [as to P450 - I prefer not bombarding my mitochondrial DNA with ROS, reactive oxygen species. And as a matter of fact, though I don’t know of a connection between food and ROS, P450 IS very sensitive to what we eat - it catalyzes three fourths of the reactions in our liver!!! It can get induced and inhibited by certain chemicals (from our food, obviously, or pills or anything else that makes it down there). FYI, “my protein” isn’t just encoded in 57 genes in my body (and yours!), but it is in all superkingdoms of life and has been studied a ton, in part because it is a superfamily of many different proteins that do similar things and have a heme active site and absorb strongly at 460 nm.]

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research

Blisters, Hamstrings, and Oranges

This is my last post about sports, I promise. (I really promise, because it is my second to last post!)

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research

Stupid Dinosaurs!

Welcome.

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culture

Temples, Houseboats, and Kalaripayattu [ITB 6]

When you’re designing products for a different place, you have to understand that place - socially, economically, culturally. We got some sense of the society in getting to know the students, and we spent a bunch of time talking about the economy in the area and visiting industries. So, of course, we also got to see some of Kerala’s culture. We saw that at the wedding, in visiting family’s homes, and in talking to students, but on a less sophisticated level, we also got the “tourist culture”: the temples, houseboats, and kalaripayattu.

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culture

Making Friends [ITB 5]

One of my favorite parts of this trip has been getting to know the SAINTGITS students.

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global

2011 Gyeongju World Culture Expo

After we caught the train to Gyeongju, we took a bus to the fair ground. While we rode the bus, some Korean high school students were laughing at me being a foreigner. This is the only time I was treated less than well for being a foreigner. I think they maybe wanted to practice their English with me because when I stumbled one of them asked if I was okay, so maybe they were just excited to see a foreigner.

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research

Educated Unemployment and Labor Shorages [India Trip Blog 4]

In An 22, the intro to socio-cultural anthropology class I took last term, we talked about emic and etic perspectives. The emic perspective is the native point of view, and the etic perspective is the outsider’s point of view and the conclusion about what is going on. This almost seems to apply to the labor shortage we kept hearing about in Kerala through many of our other industry visits. (A really good paper about this is here, though it is a bit outdated.)

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research

Three Principles [India Trip Blog 3]

The Art Center students do market research before every project, so they gave us a few tips before we got to our first field site.

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research

Many Firsts [India Trip Blog 2]

I was so tired last night after landing that I can’t even remember getting to the hotel / falling asleep. I woke up at 7, thinking much more clearly than the evening before, and went to eat breakfast. My first Indian food in India!

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clubs

Yay for International Caltech Alums!

On Sunday August 14, Kelly and I took a bus to Daegu, a city several hours east of Gwangju, to visit a Caltech alum. Kyung Ha Lee graduated just last year and taught a year-long Korean class which Kelly had taken. For a snack on our long bus ride, we bought some triangle kimbap from one of the many convenience stores in the bus station. Traditional kimbap is rolled like a sushi roll, but with spam or other cooked meat and vegetables rather than raw fish. The triangle kimbap is cheap, only 800 won (US$0.75) and is actually really tasty even though it is convenience store food. I’ll miss it when I get back to the USA.

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research

Flashback

The latter half of the Amgen symposium was comprised of a lot of fun activities including late night Jenga at the student game lounge with an espresso station, where one can get as much coffee as one wants. Normally this would be good, but I don’t drink coffee. However, it was still really fun relaxing after a long weekend with friends.

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research

19 Hours [India Trip Blog 1]

Greetings from SINGAPORE!! I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board my next flight to Kochi, and totally pumped / exhausted from our 19 hour stopover in Singapore.

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research

Flashback

AMGEN

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global

Doing the tourist thing

A few weeks ago some of the girls and I managed to wake up early on a Saturday. Crazy, right? The city was hosting Melbourne Open House, a chance to unlock the city for a weekend and explore dozens of buildings for free. Our tour guide for the day was Mia, who spared us having to think much about the day since she had already planned a route that took us through all the coolest buildings.

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research

Getting the Drift

One of the things I’ve been looking forward to the most at The University of Melbourne is working on a brand new research project. The past few years I worked in the Agapie Group at Caltech in inorganic chemistry. I absolutely loved my project and learned more than I could have imagined. My hope was that while I am here I can jump into an entirely different kind of chemistry. And once again, I got exactly what I wished for. After reading 26 pages worth of project descriptions for the Research Project class I’m enrolled in, I picked my top four labs and submitted all my paperwork. I was assigned to work under Evan Bieske, whose research mainly focuses on using laser spectroscopy to investigate the properties of charged molecules, complexes, clusters, and nanoparticles in the gas phase. That means there’s lots of lasers in his lab, and no bubbling reactions or beakers or Erlenmeyer flasks full of the colorful and dangerous chemicals people usually associate with chemistry. Coming straight out that kind of lab, this was a really big and definitely exciting change. Here I am in my new lab next to the laser I’ll be working with.

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clubs

I ate it while it was still alive!

To continue… After lunch, Jaeeun bought some orange chocolates here that Jeju is famed for. I think they are really delicious and you can find variations sold all over the island. They also have a lot of tangerine trees here. The administrators bought some tangerines for us. They were very sweet and delicious.

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research

Chipping away on CHIP

Meet Chip:

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Beach Trip

I went to the beach again! SURFSAC, a student group that organizes lots of social / fun events over the summer, organized the trip. We had a (coach!) bus from Caltech right to the beach. In Santa Monica, we were able to do / go wherever we wanted so long as we would all be back at the bus at 4:50, but most people formed a pretty big group around the food! It was pretty cold / cloudy when we got there, so we wrapped up in our towels, but then – SUN! Garms (her blog is at https://www.caltech.typepad.com/ - Summer at NASA!) and I went into the waves for a while (during which I, of course, managed to get really sunburnt!). THEY WERE HUGE! Waves are so cool. The undertow was really strong, so we kept getting pulled closer to shore / farther from shore.

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research

The Golden Ticket (or rather

I never did a lot of stuff before coming to Caltech - research, eating mangos, and seeing a rattlesnake [don’t worry, it was a three hour drive from campus] - and that now includes going to a fancy schmancy movie theater (to be honest, I didn’t even know there was one in Pasadena!). I already blogged about my summer jobs, but as a quick refresher, in addition to SURFing this summer [I’ll be posting about that again soon!], I’m working eight hours a week as a House Assistant.Housing super-kindly agreed to fund an HA (House Assistants) “team-bonding” event! We decided to go to the Gold Class Theater. Only one of us had been there before (there’s this other really good $2 movie theater with, apparently, $1 hotdogs that are really good even closer to campus) and we were quite impressed as we rushed in, slighly late [luckily these things have a ton of advertisements at the beginning].

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research

To Infinity & Beyond! (but don't forget about Earth!)

So I’ve mentioned before how JPL lets us tour some of its really cool facilities. I’ve gotten to see the Lunar Surface Operations Testbed (LSOT) and the clean room where MSL was being packed. Well, last Friday, I got to see some more cool things! I actually got to go on two lab tours. The first was the Planetary Robotics Lab (PRL), which is where I saw that funny Godzilla sign that I showed you in my last post.

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research

Back Again!

Hey everyone! I am finally back again after my unintended 2 week hiatus from blogging. Anyway, there’s a lot to blog about, but first, let’s talk about the weekend. Have you had a good weekend? I hope so! I had a great one as well and I learned two things as well.

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research

The Rest of the Trip (Part 2)

So, to continue… Even though it was very late, we went to a street famous for its many Ddeokbokki (a type of spicy rice cake dish) shops and had another meal. It was yummy, but I had to drink a lot of water because it was so spicy.

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culture

Birthday Celebrations!

I had the pleasure of celebrating my 21st birthday in Australia a couple of weeks ago. It coincided with the “Under the Sea” party that was part of O-Week in the Village. The girls and I had agreed to meet up in Sarah and Mia’s room to get ready at 6:15. I received a couple of text messages that kept pushing the time back, since apparently Sarah and Mia were still cooking dinner. Forty five minutes later I had reached the conclusion that they had either burned their kitchen down or else were making a really splendid meal.

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research

An Egg, A Crater & A Launch

Last Friday (August 5th) was a very busy day for me. Let me tell you all about it! :)

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research

Rural Korea, or More Strange Things That I Have Eaten

We drove down a dirt road to Wonil’s family’s house. It was way out in the countryside, and surrounded by fields of green Korean onions.

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research

We've got spirit, yes we do! We've got spirit, how about you?

So last time, I talked about Opportunity, the Mars Rover launched in 2004 that was supposed to last only 90 Martian Days (called sols). Well, it’s still on Mars; it’s still functional; and it’s still returning lots of cool data. Unfortunately, Opportunity’s twin (Spirit, which had the same purpose/intended lifetime) recently passed away. It’s still on Mars, but NASA is unable to communicate with it…JPL had its last contact with Spirit just last year. :(

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research

Acronyms Galore & A Little Bit of "Opportunity"

On the first day of my time here at JPL, during the orientation talks, I was introduced to an alternative full-form of the acronym “NASA”: National Acronym Slingers Association. :) And well, this expression is pretty accurate! I’ve heard so many acronyms while at JPL that it’s hard to keep track of them all! In my last post I mentioned “ATHLETE.” That stands for “All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer.” How did they come up with that one?!

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SURF Party!

Each Friday, the SURFs in my group (aka Professor Gray’s group) and his Solar Army team meet for an hour and present on what we’ve been up to!

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More Interesting Food

After we finished the hike, we went to the beach for an hour. There was a typhoon on its way in, so the beach was roped off, literally. There was yellow caution tape strung along the shoreline. We stood behind the tape, but we could still get our feet wet as the bigger waves came in. One wave was much bigger than we expected, so we got splashed up to our waists!

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research

Giant Martian Rovers, Oh My!

As I mentioned briefly at the end of my last post, I got to tour the Lunar Surface Operation Testbed (LSOT), which is the facility that JPL uses to simulate low gravity and test the large ATHLETE Rover.

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research

Grüezi from Switzerland!

Hello again!!If you’ve been keeping up with the Caltech blogs over some period of time, you might remember me from the Caltech Y Science Policy trip to Washington D.C. about two years ago. Has it really been that long?? Time flies! I can’t believe I just graduated a month ago - yes, four years went by fast.

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research

Welcome to Australia!

On my first day in Australia, I stepped off the plane, got my passport stamped, and headed outside where an airport pickup service from the University of Melbourne was waiting for me. I made my first American mistake by beginning to walk towards the right side of the car before I realized it was the driver’s side. It was also a car of a make I didn’t know with a lion as its logo. The man who drove me to my new home was named Michael. We talked about driving in Australia, sports, and, most importantly, Aussie rules football. This is a game unique to Australia that to me sounded like rugby, although I can’t say I know much about rugby anyways. I’ll be sure to check out a few games while I’m here.

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research

Just a Little Bit Closer to Space

Hello! :)

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global

Orienteering

What in the world is orienteering?!? I vaguely remember my HS gym teacher being really into it, but beyond that, I didn’t really know what I was getting into when one of my friends and I (she had gone before :)) signed up to go orienteering this weekend.

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research

Revisited

**Note: These opportunities are available to all Caltech students! **

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Spotlight


academics

My Trip to the Galapagos!

It’s been over three months since my trip to the Galapagos, and I am still thinking about it. For seven days, we all woke up at 5:30 am on the boat, ate breakfast together, and went out as the sun was rising on our morning hike to catch frigatebirds mating or iguanas spewing salt from their nostrils. Our days were spent snorkeling with turtles, sea lions, and schools of fish, and our nights were spent sitting on the bow of the ship, talking all together under the stars. It was truly a spring break I will never forget.

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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.

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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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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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