Just a quick note about very relevant current events. Last week on Wednesday, a wildfire started a few miles away from JPL, up the Angeles Crest Highway. This ‘Station Fire’ has since grown to be huge. The main JPL campus (on Oak Grove) was closed over the weekend, and the fire line got quite close to here over the weekend – within a mile or so. But that part of the fire boundary was contained, and the active burning is not so close to the main JPL campus anymore, so it’s out of direct danger. Still, the Oak Grove part of the lab was closed for most people (like me) on Monday because of air quality concerns.
Things went back to normal here on Tuesday, but the air quality is still pretty bad. I’d estimate less than a mile of visibility this morning, looking to the East.
But that doesn’t mean that things are over. The current estimated boundary size is 140,150 acres (over 200 square miles!), and while JPL is safe, other areas are being threatened. This includes residential communities, as well as the Mt. Wilson communications center and the observatory. There has been a lot of work that has gone into protecting Mt. Wilson, from laying down fire retardant to back burning to get rid of fuel that the wildfire could use to jump to the facilities on the mountain top. Apparently things are looking somewhat up as far as keeping the facilities safe, but it’s not over yet. The towercam on the 150 ft solar telescope went offline yesterday afternoon, so we can’t directly see what’s going on up there.
Still, if you’re inclined to follow what’s going on, the incident website is here.
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.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.