Despite having work, my last two days in Paris were awesome.
I was leaving early Wednesday morning, so Monday and Tuesday night were the last nights to really enjoy friends and the city before taking off.
Well it was coming down to my last day in France!!!! It was a hectic day, filled with me scrambling around, working on my project a bit, getting required signatures for checkout, etc.
I finally said farewell to my mentor! It was so sad to realize that the personal interaction was over! We discussed the project a bit, and what we had to finish up (it proves to not be that much). I said bye and that was it! Done with math in France! The paper will be completed very soon after I get back, and I also plan on writing my program in Matlab in order to make it more widely distributable.
That night I just began to pack and clean up. Finally, later in the evening, all my Ecole Polytechnique friends came to wish me farewell, so we had a little party :) I’m gonna miss that group!
I’m gonna miss these kids!
Anyway, that night I got no sleep (I was busy packing/cleaning/preparing for my huge voyage). Thanks to my friends Lee and Mario for helping me carry my stuff to the train station! I had so many bags! Somehow, despite the fact that I bought more stuff in Europe, I must have been much more efficient with my packing in comparison to when I left the states because I fit everything quite easily in my bags and even had space to spare!
I left Ecole Polytechnique at 7 AM Paris time. I traveled a long time, from Paris to Montreal to Vancouver to Los Angeles. I got to Caltech around 9 AM Paris time, the next day. That means I was traveling for 26 hours, on no sleep the night before! But no problem, Caltech will prepare you for this kind of thing! ;-)
Anyway, it seems as though this blog is coming to an end. I’m a bit sad to end it because it’s very much a symbol that continues to tie me to my research experience and exciting adventures throughout Europe this summer. However, I had to leave France, and now I have to leave you! I hope you all the best in whatever adventures you guys have! Please never hesitate to get to know me at Caltech! I hope my blog was as fun for you as this summer was for me!
–Anton Mario Bongio KarrmanApplied and Computational MathematicsCaltech ‘11
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.