The weekend is now winding its way down in France. The weather has been pretty interesting here. By interesting I mean that it has been raining which is quite an experience for someone like myself who grew up in Arizona and San Diego. Saturday I woke up at 8 am to rain and it didn’t really stop until around 6 pm. It’s quite peaceful and gave me an excuse to just sit inside and work on looking at graduate programs and fellowships. Yes, I’ve reached that point during my college experience where I have to fill out applications again to continue my education. This weekend I made the progress of creating a list of graduate schools and fellowships to apply to. Since the programs depend on the field that one is interested in there is no great and easy way of determining which schools to apply to so I’ve basically been asking a bunch of the professors and graduate students at Caltech about their opinions. I effectively just took a list of thirty universities and spent all of Saturday reading through their Physics programs and going through the professional biographies of every professor in their High Energy Physics department. I kind of made it more difficult on myself by deciding to not restrict myself to the US and look in Europe and Asia as well. However, after 10 hours of websearching I now have my list of eight to which I will be applying! One piece of advice that I just found out for myself: it can definitely be beneficial to go outside your normal area of expectations. The three universities that I found with the most interesting research were all schools that I hadn’t even considered before this weekend. I’m sure this applies to many things other than looking at graduate programs, but it worked out for me this weekend.
That was basically my Saturday, rain and grad applications. The rain stopped for about twenty minutes so I decided to go for a walk in the fields near our apartment. Of course a torrential downpour began again once I made it to the furthest point of my walk by the forest. Twas an experience though, especially witnessing the death of my umbrella as the wind ripped the fabric off.
Sunday cleared up quite a bit and we actually had sunlight! My roommates and I decided to go for a hike today in the Jura mountains which are pretty close to our apartment. Today we climbed to the peak of Le Reculet which is the second highest peak in the Juras at 1718 meters, only 3 meters shorter than the tallest peak. It was a pretty fun way of getting outside and exploring our area, plus we got a really nice view of the valley.
The trail was much steeper than we imagined. We began at the bottom with at least a 30 degree incline thinking that it would only be for a short distance, but it was actually like that the entire way up.The view was amazing though and the weather was really interesting since we went from passing through misty forests, through sunny fields and then up through the clouds. We finally made it to the top after about 3-4 hours and it was totally worth it.
We were high enough up that we could see the entire valley, even the other side of Lake Geneva. As a Southern Californian I must also make the obligatory, “there was snow!” statement. It was also pretty interesting to watch the clouds/fog roll into the mountains. On our way back down we became completely encompassed in mist.
On our way up we had passed this heard of grazing cows which was off in the distance. When I had reached the peak I actually saw them stampeding across the field. Unfortunately they also happened to stampede right into the path that we needed to take to get down, and they weren’t that happy to see us.
They were pretty adorable though, they even had the huge bells that are stereotypical of cows in the Alps. I named this cow Ingrid which is not really fitting since we are in France but whatever.
We made it down the mountain, each of us in one piece. The worst part was actually the descent since the path was primarily made of stone and small pebbles. The mist also made it a bit difficult since all of the smooth rock was wet and pretty slippery. But the point is we made it down, though I will probably never get my roommates to go out hiking with me again.
Now that we are finally off the mountain it is time to relax, get some sleep and prepare for our second week at CERN!
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.