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My Research Environment

I wake up and throw a glance at my alarm clock – it’s 9:00 AM, the start of another wonderful day in my summer research adventure. Rather than groan at the thought of going to lab, I eagerly jump out of bed and start getting ready to spend the next eight hours in Schlinger Laboratory.

What makes me so motivated? As I walk the path from Dabney Hovse past the turtle pond and Milikan Pond, and enter the pathway leading to Schlinger, I think of all the possible discoveries that can be made, new advances waiting to be made in the world of atmospheric engineering research.

Five minutes later, I arrive:

This is the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. It is the newest (2010) of three buildings (with Cahill[Astrophysics] and Annenberg[Computer Science] in 2009) built with eco-friendly architecture and operation and state-of-the-art technology.

My office is located on the north side of the first floor, which I share with two postdocs and an associate professor. There are two other offices containing other grad students and postdocs – I am the only undergrad! We all work for a team of two professors who specialize in atmospheric particles, and have won numerous awards and recognitions from ACS, AIChE, etc. for their discoveries.

I work with my professor on modeling how weather factors affect the growth and dispersion of pollen and ways to predict its seasons. In the process of researching, I gained new sets of skills and learned to use and improve on the latest technology for collecting and analyzing pollen data (it’s exciting that we have our own pollen collecter!). My professor and the team encourage me to go beyond what’s known and make new discoveries, which is why I treasure the support I get at Caltech. I work with my peers and professors in a competition-free environment, where everyone is asked to bring their best to the research table.

My lab also has a diverse set of students and international networks in the research world. The postdoc that sits next to me comes from Finland with a background in aerosol physics, and the lab members and I exchange information about our respective cultures. This diverse background is representative of the entire campus, where we bring minds from all over the world to unite for the advancement of science and the betterment of humanity.

Join me next time as I delve deeper into the life of an undergraduate researcher at Caltech!