I hope everyone is having an amazing holiday break. This time of year is always a great break from all of the hullabaloo of Caltech. As engaging as classes and extracurriculars are, being able to lounge around at home (and see snow!) is always great.Specifically, celebrating holidays with my family is always fun. My mom is Jewish and my dad is Catholic, so we celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas.
This year, Chanukah came first and started on my birthday. Instead of the traditional latkes (potato pancakes) and homemade applesauce on the first night, we went to one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Though I missed having latkes (couldn’t complain about my artichoke ravioli, though), we didn’t miss out on the celebrations–we just pushed everything back a few days! My mom and I grated what seemed like a ton of potatoes and onions, poured nearly a bottle of oil into a pan, and fried up stacks of potato pancakes. The menorah twinkled as we celebrated the festival of lights with a few gifts and great company.
We spent Christmas at home. Though everything was pretty low key, my favorite part was giving my dog his present; a toy pickle with a Christmas hat on it! He loved it!! My cat loved the stuffed fish I got her, but unfortunately, so did my dog. When she wasn’t looking, he took it, hid away, and tore all of its feathers off!! I will have to get her a replacement, but maybe only give it to her when I get back to California. For dinner, I baked a limoncello cheesecake (inspired in part by the limoncello I learned to cook with in the Caltech Cooking Class!), made butternut squash soup, and boiled some ravioli.
I am looking forward to ringing in the new year with friends and family next week and then getting back to the Caltech grind (we start only two days after the first!) Please enjoy some of these pictures from the holidays!
My kitty, Clementine, celebrating her first (White!!) Christmas.
Chanukah/ birthday flowers!
My dog enjoying his two new toys: the pickle I got him, and a reindeer my parents got him.
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.