Hey,Okay, I have a reason for being so behind with stuff. The last two weeks of SURF were pretty hard. I was in lab until 8- 10 pm each night and I had to go in on the weekends in the morning and in the night. So yeah. I have a reason for being so fail. Anyways, I still want to catch you guys up with some of the fun stuff I was able to do before my summer at Tech ended. The weekend of the 6th-8th was really fun! It was nice taking another break from lab and getting to do some fun stuff. On Friday I hung out with friends, on Saturday I went to the beach, and on Sunday I went to Little Tokyo. Fun stuff. On Friday night, I took some FSRI kids to Lloyd and I ended up talking with some friends. Some of them were baking! Here’s Sabrina (left) and Melissa (right) with their banana bread. Okay, it looks kind of burnt on the edges, but it smelled amazing. Throughout the summer, they have been perfecting their baking skills. A few days later I came back to Lloyd to see that Melissa had like 5 breads in her room. She was on a baking spree!
After an eventful day on Saturday, we had another fun day planned for Sunday. We went to Little Tokyo for some karaokeing. Wooo. But first, we had to get there. We made the about-a-mile walk to the metro station on Lake. As you can see, it was a nice day out and it was wasn’t too bad walking over there.
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.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.
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.