In Blacker, it is a tradition for the frosh to lead a prank on Lloyd’s former Christmas tree (now it’s just the Ls). It gives them an opportunity to work together to do a large project while being creative and fun. They are in charge of organizing themselves, asking for permission (as the administration wants to know about any such large-scale and visible pranks) and procuring their supplies and manpower.
This year, their idea was to do a snow globe with a miniature Millikan inside of it. In addition, they added a bow to the top of Millikan to make it into a gift as well. As always, there was a large scramble to get things done the night of the prank. They were still sewing the bow and painting the miniature Millikan a few hours before everything had to be put up. But a lot of people came to help - not only the frosh, but upperclassmen as well.
Upperclassmen always help a lot with the execution of the prank on the night it goes up. They are important to help coordinate and keep frosh safe as they have previous experience about 1: how to actually put things on Millikan roof and 2: how to be safe while doing it. I helped earlier in the night, as they were lacking manpower at first. However, people finished their other work and commitments quickly, so I was able to go back and sleep at a regular time. There were however people working on it until past dawn on the next day. The prank was very well done; when they finished the morning after, it looked really good.
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a 10-week internship at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. For those unfamiliar, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines.
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.