Tucked behind the Caltech Theatre House and past the Alumni House is a unassuming, two-story stark white garage. But inside this barren building is an explosion of color, stencils, silk, and paint. The first floor of this garage houses Caltech’s silk screening and shirt decorating room, while the second floor is home to our aclyric paint and charcoal collection.
Every Tuesday, from 7-10 pm, our art instructor teaches an art class in this gem of a garage. Students are free to come and go, though most people choose to stay for the 1.5 hours of painting and 1.5 hours of live model sketching. While I attended class often freshman year (painting is an incredible stress-reliever), the Caltech workload caught up with me during my sophomore and junior years. Now, as a senior, I have ample free time and a desire to occupy my time with productive hobbies.
While I was brainstorming ways to satisfy my art bug, my graduate student mentor Hidehiko (who I’ve worked with for 3+ years and am quite close to) was busy packing up his life in California to move to Janelia Farm in D.C. for a post doc position. A nice tie or a bottle of wine seemed too impersonal a gift for his good-bye present, and so I decided to .. paint him something!
Hidehiko and I work on neural pathways regulating hunger in Drosophila (fruit flies), so I knew I wanted to paint something related to our research. Eventually, I settled on a somewhat odd design: a luminescent fruit fly with neural designs on both its wings and in the background.
I spent three weeks to draft the design, choose the paint colors, and draw & paint the gift. Below’s the finished product!
Here’s what the neurons on the wings looked like:
Hidehiko left for Washington D.C. last week, so lab is a bit more empty and less enjoyable now. But now that I’ve finished his painting, I’m searching for a new project for Tuesday night.
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.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.