Last weekend was the first weekend this summer during which I felt completely stress-free! I had finally finished writing all of my medical school secondary applications and just presented for my lab over at City of Hope on Friday.
Apart from lazing around and enjoying my lack of immediate things to do (which was great), I also went hiking up Echo Mountain this past Saturday morning/early afternoon. The hike up was about 3 miles and not too bad…though it was quite sunny out, there was a good amount of breeze and shade along the way. Check out these pictures from the top of the mountain!
The view from the top.
Us at the top!
Once at the top, we wanted to go back down on a different trail–one with waterfalls and such that we had read about online. Turned out to be a terrible idea! The starting location of the trail was really unclear online so we attempted several different “trails” down the mountain…needless to say, we had to backtrack each time. Backtracking was certainly a good idea because we later learned that had we kept up with one of the (incredibly steep) trails we attempted, we would have eventually had to somehow rappel down the side of a cliff/waterfall in order to get down. Given that we had none of the proper equipment to do so…no thanks! We eventually just came back down the same way we went up, but the overall hike was quite the workout and adventure!
The Sunday after, I attended an LA Prefrosh Summer Send-Off event with some other current students over at the Palos Verdes Estates as ASCIT representation. I got to meet a few of the class of 2017 prefrosh who live in the LA area, answer the questions they have about campus life, and share with them some words of wisdom as a rising senior and social director. It was a great opportunity for the prefrosh to get to know each other and some of the upperclassmen prior to arriving at Caltech.
A group of us at the event.
I’m now finishing up my last week of research at City of Hope. I’ll go back home to Temecula for a week afterwards and then back to school for my CHLA preceptorship!
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.
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.