Facebook holds two big parties for its employees and their families, one during the summer and one during the holiday season. This summer, the party was held at Levi’s Stadium, home to the 49ers.
It was basically a huge carnival, with face painting, carnival games, flash tattoos, magic shows, dance performances, and more. Many of the lounges were also open to serve food and provide shade for everyone. The usual stadium fare of pizza, hot dogs, and fries were also available.
I didn’t arrive early enough to get the cute prizes at the carnival games, but I did get a flash tattoo and an airbrushed tattoo. After the party, my friends and I played badminton, and then went to Redwood City to get pizza and watch a movie. It was their last week at Facebook (since they’re on the semester system), which was a bit sad. But, I’m really glad I made new friends this summer, and maybe we’ll run into each other again!
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.