I always thought New Hampshire, my home state, was really cool for having mountains, beaches, and Canada within day-trip distance. There’s only one problem: CA does too. In fact, I’m pretty sure the mountains and ocean are closer to each othere here than in NH. I made it a weekend trip: on Saturday, I hiked Mount Wilson with a bunch of other Techers and summer students (here for SURF or Caltech’s JPL programs) and on Sunday, my roommate and I took the metro to Santa Monica.
The hike began at Eaton Canyon, headed up to the Henniger Flats for three miles, and then continued on for six miles to the peak. The trial is an old dirt road, but it definitely isn’t all too car-safe anymore – at some point over Henniger Flats [I think there are some people who drive up to there – it is a campground], there were a bunch of boulders covering the road. My favorite part of the hike was right after the Henniger Flats – we were actually walking through a forest!! Like lots of trees! There were tons of wildflowers, including, I think, some forget-me-nots, those little pink frily ones [I’m sorry, this probably describes a plethora of flowers, but try to think mountain :)], and tons of yellow ones.
At some point past the rockslide, it got really buggy. Like swarms of bugs around you. And these were the nasty kind that bite and leave marks the size of bee-stings. Not fun. We met some locals who had been turned around by the bugs, and that began a train of ideas in our group. In the end, only a few people who would be able to come back in August decided to escape the bugs and hike to a lower waterfall instead; the rest of us continued. It was really buggy though, so another hiker and I got way ahead of the group. Mysteriously, we didn’t find them on our way down either – there was one intersection where two paths led to the top, and this is probably where we lost them :( It was still awesome though, because I had to be back on campus at 5:30.
I’ve written about the Caltech Y a bunch, but in short, the Y does everything from outdoors to community service to exploring the area. On the third Saturday of each month, we take a group of Techers to Union Station, a homeless shelter in Pasadena, to cook for the residents. That’s why I had to be on campus by 5:30 :) This month, we made mashed potatoes with string beans, lemon-marinated chicken and gravy. We had ice cream for dessert. It was soooo good and all the residents kept telling us [I’ve been there before, and they’ll thank you every time, but they won’t tell you the food is great if it isn’t]. I attribute it to the cooking skills of this group: one of the grad students on the trip made those beans into something amazing, and a postdoc had a really good mashed potato recipie. We also had a lot of ideas for future meals; we were thinking about lasagne, Indian food (American-style mild :)) and a Mexican Night. The trips are always really fun - after cooking for a few hours, we eat with the residents. Many of them have a pretty interesting (by that, I mean not very represented / noticeable at Caltech :)) outlook on their situation. We’re looking into working with them not just by cooking but also in helping them return to supporting themselves. For those of you coming to Caltech this fall, I really suggust looking at what the Y does and finding something you’re interested in! Or finding something at the clubfair – there really are a ton of awesome groups on Caltech, and many of them are a great complement to the classes / offer a good chance to follow your non-academic interests :)
On Sunday, Garms and I took the metro to Santa Monica.
We had fun looking at the waves under the pier: they break really cool-y (I don’t think that’s a real word :)) when they hit all the different posts. They also start going different speeds depending on whether they are under the concrete, doubled-up posts (holding up the rollar coaster) or under the wood (holding up people). The ocean is so awesome! Too bad that there was a plastic bag = pollution swimming in it :( We need to take better care of our land!
It was a pretty awesome weekend, and on Monday, I’ll get to spend the entire day playing with colors again! [Inorganic chemistry changes from red to orange or purple or blue very fast :)].
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.