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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. 😛
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. 😛

Debbie Tseng