I have already posted about cooking off-campus and mentioned that I feel it is superior to cooking on campus. However, this does mean that cooking on campus is impossible. Occasionally something really awesome happens in an on-campus kitchen. If we’re lucky, it happens regularly. We are very, very lucky this year.
There is a frosh who apparently has extensive experience with baking bread and other flour-based tasties. After he started baking bread and sharing it with the other people in the house, demand grew to the point that he is now volunteering his time to bake massive batches of bread for the house once a week. And when I say massive, I mean he used around 25 lbs of flour for this week’s bread night. He also generously teaches anyone who wants to learn, which seems to be a good system, since it means there are more capable pairs of hands who can help.
This year, our fancy frosh decided to experiment with an extra-special treat: cinnamon rolls. I was around to receive a tutorial in making these delicacies, a process that started in the middle of the afternoon with a bowl of wet, battery-looking stuff, which is in the messy-looking metal bowl on the left.
Work on the cinnamon rolls re-commenced after dinner, when we rolled out the dough so we could spread the cinnamon filling on it. (The filling, by the way, consists of sugar, butter, and cinnamon.) Then we rolled up the dough and cut the roll into smaller pieces, each of which would become a cinnamon roll.
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.
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.