Hello! My name is Huey-Ru, but I go by Debbie. :) I am a rising Junior, majoring in Computation and Neural Systems. It’s a fancy title for Neurobiology with some electrical enginneering, computer science, and applied math mixed in. This is my first time blogging for Caltech and my second Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at Caltech.
I am also a co-Director (with my friend Monisha) of a student club called Caltech InnoWorks. We aim to increase opportunties in science, math, and technology for local middle school students on the free or reduced lunch program. To this end, we run a free, completely hands-on, yearly summer camp. It’s a lot of prep work throughout the year, but also very rewarding. :) There’s a news article on us on the Caltech website: here.
The picture on the left was taken during last year’s camp. We had an activity where the campers constructed egg protecting capsules and dropped eggs at increasing heights. I think the max height (without cracking) was either 3 or 4 stories!
Throughout the summer, I will be covering food and desserts in the Pasadena area, our Caltech InnoWorks camp, and SURF - as well as anything I find exciting or fun. :P
Last year, I did a SURF on the Caltech iGEM team (International Genetically Engineered Machine).iGEM is a team-based competition (both regional and national levels) where
undergraduate students work together to design and construct their own
synthetic biosystem. iGEM teams get to pick their own projects every year. For our 2012 project, we worked on increasing ethanol yields from bacteria. It you are interested, you can take a look at our project details here: https://2012.igem.org/Team:Caltech.While green energy sources are cool, they aren’t exactly connected to my major and chief research interests.
So this year, I decided to do a SURF that is actually associated with my declared major. I am SURFing at the Meister lab, which focuses on various functions of neural circuits in the retina and olfactory bulb. Even though I’ve only been in lab for one week so far, I really love it! Professor Meister, my mentor Meliz, and just everyone is so friendly and nice. :) I feel that I have the support to ask questions and work on my project, even though I have the least background knowledge in the lab.
The Meister lab is a newish, modern styled facility. It’s super fancy looking inside. The following GIF was made from several snapshots (with my phone camera) of the entrance to the lab.
From outside, you can only see lights coming from a window, so it looks like someone’s having a disco party or something. For the longest time, (since it is Caltech) I thought that there were some optics-related-crazy project going on. Turns out just pretty lights. :P
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.