I hope you had a great Fourth of July! Most of my friends hit the beach and went to watch fireworks. I ended up checking out Grand Park's block party, exploring Little Tokyo then having a BBQ.
Grand Park hosts a giant Fourth of July celebration every year. There are performances, food trucks, games, fireworks and lots of people. We took the Metro there since parking Downtown is an absolute pain in the butt. Even though we went right went the party began, we had to wait 20 minutes to get in.
I was slightly underwhelmed by the food options there since I don't exactly crave curry or loaded fries in 85 degree weather. Due to security, we weren't allowed to bring any liquids into Grand Park, so I got thirsty really quickly. I didn't feel like spending $9 on a bottle of homemade kombucha but I wanted to cool off, so we decided to walk over to Little Tokyo (7 minutes away by walk) and enjoy delicious ice cream.
My friend, a summer student, had soft serve at Honeymee. While I had a black sesame mochi ice cream from Mikawaya, the inventor of the mochi ice cream. The store front we visited was the original! It's slightly ironic, but there were more happy people in Little Tokyo's Village Plaza than at Grand Park (well fed people = happy people).
After we fueled up, we went back to campus for a BBQ collaboration between Lloyd and Venerable. We grilled burgers and hot dogs and chilled out with music all evening. The turnout was way greater than expected, and we ran out of food TWICE. Then people went their separate ways to watch fireworks.
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.