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Nice to meet you!

My name is Ariel. My favorite color is glow-in-the-dark (don’t tell me it’s not a color). I like zombie apocalypse fiction and postmodern poetry. I like my water cold from a Brita filter in the fridge and I take my tea-drinking seriously.

I’m also a sophomore biology major at Caltech.

I am a week into the ten-week SURF program, which allows me to research in Professor Davidson’s sea urchin laboratory, which uses purple sea urchins as a model organism to study developmental biology. So far, doing a SURF is almost as exhausting as a term at Caltech, except when I leave lab in the evening, I don’t have any homework. I also have weekends free. Oh, and there aren’t any early morning classes.

There’ll be plenty of time to talk about my adventures and misadventures in lab, but I’ll start with some of the nonacademic parts of my summer first.

Over the weekend, I finally had time to start watching Breaking Bad. Between problem sets and classes, I’m too focused on getting enough sleep to watch any TV during the school year. (I’m much more likely to be found with a book.)

Speaking of books, I’m also reading Digger, which is a fantastic graphic novel about a wombat. It was written originally as a webcomic, and is luckily available legally, free, and in full on the author’s website. I have a lot of friend at Caltech who follow webcomics with an impressive regularity. XKCD, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and Questionable Content are popular choices. I read Cyanide and Happiness regularly myself, but that’s only because the latest comics pop up in my newsfeed whenever I check my Facebook.

The webcomic Digger is available here: https://diggercomic.com/

Digger isn’t the last graphic novel I’ll be reading this summer, but most of my reading consists of papers on gene regulatory networks (GRNs) for my research. Sea urchins all the way!

Now, we can end with some eye candy.

This is a purple sea urchin alongside a glamorous close-up.

From https://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/files/2012/12/Sea_urchin.jpg

This is a sea urchin being eaten by a snapper.

From https://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/179/cache/sea-urchins03-sea-urchin-snapper_17930_600x450.jpg

I do not eat sea urchins, but some people do.

From https://www.belly.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/dave03.jpg

It was nice meeting you! If you want to hear about starting a culture of sea urchin embryos, you should check out my next blog post later this week!

Ariel O’Neill