Caltech: Hundreds Turn Out for SURF/SFP Seminar Day


More than 120 students participating in Caltech’s summer research programs presented posters on Thursday, August 18, showcasing a wide range of research from space exploration and kidney stone treatment to DNA-based computing and real-time health monitoring.

In the shaded walkway of the Gordon and Betty Moore Laboratory of Engineering on campus, visitors thronged around presenters who explained their personal research projects conducted over the course of the summer as part of Student-Faculty Programs (SFP) including SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships), the WAVE Fellows program, and the Amgen Scholars program.

Brynja Bjarnadóttir, a visiting mechanical engineering student from the University of Iceland, says that researching the physics of lithotripsy—a treatment using shockwaves to break apart kidney stones—piqued her interest in engineering work that has medical applications.

“It was fun to see how working with the data could apply” to potentially improve the lives of patients, she says.

WAVE Scholar Christine Ohenzuwa, a senior at Princeton, says she loved the collaborative nature of the research she conducted on helping spacecraft image their surroundings and said the experience might tip her toward going to graduate school: “I came late to research, but I learned that I really enjoy it.”

Spencer Winter, a WAVE Scholar and biology student at California State University, Monterey Bay, presented his poster on DNA-based computing, saying that when he started the summer, “I had no idea that this field existed.”

He also had no idea what to expect from his WAVE experience.

“I came to Caltech intimidated—I mean, it’s Caltech—but I was really welcomed and supported by my lab, and by the end, I actually thought, ‘Wow! I’m really a scientist. I can do this!'”

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