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.
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.