I can’t remember the last time I had such a relaxing weekend at Caltech. One of the perks of completing a SURF rather than going to class is that work ends Friday afternoon, and the weekend is completely free. This weekend, I managed to cram in quite a few fun things to do.
On Friday evening, I went to watch Wonder Woman with my friend Jessica at the Edwards Alhambra theatre. So many of my friends have raved about the movie that I had no choice but to see it. Also, I won some movie tickets during an Easter egg hunt during Spring term, I was determined to use them before they expired. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, I definitely recommend that you go check it out. Otherwise, if you are patient (unlike me), you can probably wait for it to become available on Netflix.
I was pleasantly surprised by the plot twists and the plot line in general. The character development was also fantastic. It is nearly impossible to dislike such a badass female hero and an attractive male side kick – talk about role reversal! I’m no movie critic but I would argue that it is one of the best DC movies.
On Saturday, most people went to the beach on a trip organized by SFP (Student-Faculty Programs). I could not go because I had promised some friends that I would help photograph an event that afternoon. However, I managed to make the most of my morning. Feeling pretty inspired by the movie, I decided to draw a portrait of Wonder Woman. I was debating whether to polish up her hair and her face, but I was feeling a bit tired by that point. Afterwards, I did some chores like laundry and grocery shopping. I also managed to practice some piano in the Music House before heading over to my friend’s event.
On Sunday, there was a crab boil at Tom Mannion’s house which I volunteered to help at. We prepared tons of crab, hot dogs, pasta, and brownies for all the hungry SURF students. Funny story, we found a pair of car keys while boiling the pasta. It turns out that they fell into the pot from a hook overhead while we were filling it with water. Oops, sorry Tom.
Guess how many pounds of pasta we boiled?
EAT ALL THE FOOD!!!
I stuffed my face because I LOVE seafood. I apologize if I am making you hungry right now. I am just getting hungry thinking about all the food and writing this. Well, I’m going to make myself some avocado toast now (yes, call me basic), so until next time…
With 45 Nobel Laureates on its Faculty Roster, it’s not surprising that research is an integral part of the Caltech undergraduate experience. One of the programs that promotes such research is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). There is no minimum knowledge or experience required to participate in a Caltech SURF. In fact, students can participate in a SURF as soon as the summer after their freshman year. It is not difficult to get a SURF. All you need to do is find a mentor who is working in an area of research that interests you and willing to mentor you through a research project. The mentor can work in a Caltech lab, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), or at another participating institution. Once you find a mentor, you work together to write a project proposal that you later send to the SURF office for review and approval. About 98% of the SURF proposals get approved. This fellowship is a great way to explore various fields of research and obtain real, hands-on experience where you get to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned in class. Not only do you get to work and learn alongside your mentor, but you also get compensated for your time. The length of the SURF is ten weeks, and it starts at the beginning of the summer. However, it is not uncommon for many students at Caltech to continue their research project throughout the academic school year.
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.