I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m part of the Pipettes, the only all-female a cappella group at Caltech. There are four a cappella groups: Out of Context (co-ed), Fluid Dynamics (co-ed), the Keytones (just the guys), and us. At the end of each term, we come together for a concert. Singing with my group of girls is just another way I make the most of my time in college. We started as a group two years ago, and unlike the rest of the Caltech population and the other three a cappella groups, we have no people with perfect pitch. (I’m always amazed at how many students here have perfect pitch.) Since fall of 2014, we’ve performed in seven concerts, with three or four songs each time. We only made more progress each time, but never did I imagine that we’d get to where we were this past weekend: The Disney California Adventure park!
We began preparing for the gig at the start of this term. In six short weeks, we learned six not-so-short songs, complete with some choreography. For the Disney show, we sang covers of “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from Hercules,”Slow Me Down” by Emmy Rossum, “Mercy” by Duffy, “Sakura Kiss” from an anime called Ouran High School Host Club, “Send My Love” by Adele, and “Le Festin” from Ratatouille. Most of these covers, we arranged ourselves. Of these six songs, I liked “Le Festin” and “Slow Me Down” a lot. The former was fun to dance to, and the waltzy 3/4 feel was different from our usual. The latter was unique because it was a song with no solo–everyone contributed to the melody.
Disney was also great because the school paid for tickets so we could invite our friends and faculty to come support us, too. (: Lots of professors came with their kids:
Professor Mendez - he teaches the intro chemistry labProfessorAsimow - he teaches the geology menu courseProfessor Reisman - she teaches an intro chemistry courseProfessor Miller - he also teaches the intro chemistry courseProfessor Rangel - he teaches intro economics and lives in my house (Avery) with his family
After our performance, we spent the rest of the day in the park riding the rides, eating the food, and watching the shows. If you haven’t been recently, the Aladdin show has been replaced with an equally stunning Frozen show, complete with high-tech dazzling special effects.
It was cloudy for much of the day, which was actually quite comfortable since fortunately it didn’t rain as much as it was forecasted to. The sun finally peeked out for a short while late in the afternoon. My friend Yuka and I snuck in a selfie then:
The full video of our performance at Disney is on our Facebook page and posted below:
After we sang (and danced!) “Gee” by SNSD last year, we’ve been more interested in singing songs in other languages. We are preparing a completely non-English, multi-cultural set for concert at the end of this term.
If you like how we sound, please subscribe to our Youtube channel for more! Every subscribe brings us a little closer to our own custom URL (: Here’s the video of “Gee” by SNSD:
Here's my favorite and the song I found the most difficult to learn. This one is a cover we did last spring of Postmodern Jukebox's version of "Thrift Shop":
Do you sing? Any requests or suggestions for next songs? We do anything from pop to Disney to whatever our hearts desire, and we're open to suggestions! You can also find us on Instagram (@caltechpipettes), which is managed by yours truly. (;
keep lookin' up,
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.