I am currently in San Diego for the Thanksgiving weekend—and feeling good! It’s so great to be home for a few days to see my family, relax and sleep in my own bed before going back to conquer the last week of classes and finals.
The Solana Beach Train Station in San Diego
When I get back this Sunday, our Guatemalan partners will be in Los Angeles! I am so excited to see all of them (it’s been a few months since I saw them when I visited Guatemala this past summer) so we can get started working on the final project and presentation together. Sophy and Chepo have been doing an amazing job putting the final design of the centrifuge together and bringing it to life! It’s so surreal to see pictures of it progressing, when a few weeks ago, it was just a hand sketch drawing on paper.
It looks so cool, doesn’t it?!?
Unfortunately, the centrifuge will not be traveling with Chepo and Sophy to Los Angeles…But they will bring lots of pictures, videos and experiences to share with us to make our final presentation complete.
Until then..I hope everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving holiday as much as I am!
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.