I have a handful of pictures I had been meaning to post just for fun, but they didn’t really seem to fit in with anything… so now they fit in together as a post of irrelevant, unrelated pictures.
First up - a collection of photos taken with a wildlife cam in the woods at my house. We have 25 acres of woods, and since we moved there less than a year ago my parents thought it would be useful to find out what kinds of things were roaming around. The camera clicks a picture every 30 seconds. My dad said that you’d only get one shot of most animals because the camera shutter would scare them off before the next picture was taken. Clearly deer don’t really care…
Here’s a picture that’s not all that important, but kind of pretty! Rainbow wells from an assay I did that measures the amount of hydroxyproline in the sample. Hydroxyproline is an amino acid variant (not one of the common 20 amino acids) that is frequently found in collagen. We can hydrolyze our scaffold samples and determine the amount of collagen present, which could indicate that we were able to create a construct that shows similarities to the extracellular matrix of native cartilage. The rainbow rows are the standard curve that increases in hydroxyproline concentration from 0ug/mL to 20ug/mL.
So many tubes….. and this is only half of them! I labeled lots of tubes on the day we harvested scaffolds. It took the entire day to cut the 28-day-old, 8mm diameter samples into smaller pieces and aliquot them for characterization.
This is my grandmother’s “ferocious” little doggie, Lucy. She looks less-than-formidible next to the sign…
Getting milkshakes at Smashburger with Amy and Nadia :)
…….aaaaand a teaser from next blog post!
Only a week left of my SURF in Houston - then I’m headed back to Pasadena for soccer preseason!
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.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.