(Yi Er means One Two, and sounds similar to Year. Heh, something I should’ve mentioned in my intro is that I love puns! :P Bear with me, please, I’ll try to keep the cheesiness to a minimum.)
Happy New Year, everyone! Caltech released a video featuring some of the highlights of 2012, most notably the landing of Curiousity. As for me, I’ve had a great 2012 and, of course, am armed with a heady list of resolutions for 2013. In 2012, I was able to SURF at Stanford at a genetics lab, shadow at Huntington Hospital, get certified as a Red Cross First Responder, overcome my fear of rollercoasters and watch a live comedy show by Demetri Martin.
One highlight from last term was visiting Six Flags. This was actually my first time to Six Flags as well as first time on any roller coaster other than the kiddy rides at Disneyland. Another confession I should make is that I am absurdly acrophobic–ski lifts and glass bottom elevators are enough to make my toes curl. My boyfriend, however, chivalrously took me to four of the most intense rides at Six Flags, including Goliath, X2, Batman, and Tatsu.
Term has had its ups and downs, but we’ve finally coasted through 2012.
Avery also held a gingerbread house contest. My alley made a “Golden Graham Bridge”, also known as the “Road to Diabetes”. This inedible but indelible piece of architecture took us 2 hours to make, and many, many tries before we got it to stand.
How many physics majors does it take to build a suspension bridge? 5 apparently!
Finally, I celebrated Christmas at the beach with family. It was pretty funny to see Sand Christmas Trees and snowmen, and many people also dressed pretty festively.
There’s only half a week of break left, which is always a bittersweet feeling. I’m terrible with good byes, but I’m also really excited to go back to Tech especially since several good friends who were studying abroad last term are back.
Hope you all had a great break! Congrats to seniors for finishing your apps, and hope to see you at PFW!
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.