So sorry for not posting in a while—I literally have been dealing with a packed schedule of homework sets, study groups, field trips, classes and crossing off my lengthy to-do list…This week especially, I have been off campus almost as much as I was on campus..hooray for field trips!
I took a trip with my Energy class to the eSolar test facility in Palmdale (1.5 hours away). We got to see a huge field of sun-tracking heliostats that reflect heat from the sun to a receiving tower. The mirrors move throughout the day along with the sun’s movement. The heat then boils water within the thermal receiver and produces steam. The steam then powers a turbine and ta-da!…solar electricity!
I also went to visit JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) last Wednesday morning to meet with my thesis advisor Dr. Mike Pauken to get my badge squared away and see the facilities I will be working at this year. I am doing my thesis on thermal testing of insulation for the VENUS LANDER!—and I am SOOO excited…It has been my dream since I considered applying for Caltech (waaay back in high school) to work at JPL. So it was so surreal to be there and be considered as an official affiliate and finally have my own badge!!
The third field trip of the week was my impromptu trip to the DMV in Pasadena to retrieve a copy of my driving record. I went super early to avoid the infamous wait in line, and got back to campus to fax it over to Houston. I needed the driving record for my second interview with Schlumberger next week. I actually just got my itinerary–will be leaving November 19 and returning the 21—it is not an ordinary interview…as you will read when I blog about it next week…in one word, it’s going to be: INTENSE
Last but not least…Andrew and I put together our first fake ditch day of the year for the underclassmen! WOOHOO! I am so excited to stack this upcoming year with Andrew. Our fake was “Candyland” the stack. So we woke up early along with the other seniors to set up clues around the house to lead to yummy donuts! The best part of our fake stack was leaving a trail of lollipops from the courtyard and through an alley of the house. It was great practice….esp cause the real ditch day is TOMORROW!!!! SO GO TO BED FROSH!!!
All right everyone, until my next post…have a great weekend!
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.