Dr. Victor Tsai
Assistant Professor of Geophysics
SURF Alum '01, '02

Dr. Viviana Gradinaru
Assistant Professor of Biology
SURF Alum '03, '04
Dr. Andrei Faraon
Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science
SURF Alum '02, '03

January/February 2013
SURF Newsletter  
Dear Friend of SURF,   

For nearly 35 summers the SURF program has been providing outstanding opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge research. To date, nine of our SURF alumni have come back to join Caltech's faculty. This year we welcome back Drs. Tsai, Gradinaru, and Faraon. We look forward to them becoming SURF mentors, as we continue to build the next generation of scientists and engineers.


In this issue:

  • SURF helps students become effective communicators
  • Share your SURF story
  • SURF student, Nina Budaeva, joins SURF alum, Ken Libbrecht, in understanding the physics of snowflakes
  • You're invited: 2013 SURF Kickoff Dinner
  • Caltech Senior (and three time SURFer) wins a Churchill Scholarship

Candace Rypisi

Director, Student-Faculty Programs

SURF Seminar Day 2012
Gee Family Poster Competition.
Image Credit: Bob Paz 
Communication Matters
Terry Cole (PhD '58), former Caltech senior faculty associate and JPL chief technologist, once said: "Science not communicated might as well be science not done." This could not be any more true than it is today. In the publish or perish world of science, where grant-writing and presenting at conferences are primary job responsibilities, students must learn how to effectively share their research with others.  Learning how to present one's work is as important as doing the work.  Luckily for our students, SURF mentors and donors understand this and over the years have developed a comprehensive strategy for supporting and encouraging strong communication skills. 
Read feature story 
Alumni Connection
SURF Class 1983.

Tell us your SURF story!

SURF 2013 will mark our 35th summer! To commemorate this anniversary, we invite you to share your SURF story with us. Please let us know how your SURF has influenced you and your subsequent academic and professional career or share your fondest SURF memory. For mentors, we'd love to hear more about why you chose to work with SURF students and about the successes you've seen over the years. For donors, please share with us why you support the program and for parents, where your son or daughter is now and what your thoughts are on how they were impacted by SURF. Please consider sharing your story, however brief, with us so that we can learn more about the impact that SURF has had over the years. To learn more, and to see some old SURF photos, please click here. 

SURFing: Caltech-style
Nina Budaeva at a SURF event in 2012.
Image Credit: Bob Paz
Working in a Winter Wonderland: Caltech undergraduate steps into science studying snowflakes 

Written by Shayna Chabner

Growing up a couple of hours drive from Tahoe's snowy peaks, undergraduate Nina Budaeva was well acquainted with snowflakes-and their variety of shapes-long before coming to Caltech. 

"I ski a lot," says the senior in physics. "As a child, my parents and I would drive once a week from San Francisco to Tahoe to go cross-country skiing. And I remember that the biggest challenge was always deciding how to wax your skis."

To a skier, it's no trivial decision. Skiers regularly wax their skis to improve glide performance and reduce friction on the slopes. The type of wax that is used, however, can change depending on the type of snow, which in turn depends on the weather conditions on the mountain.  Read full story  


Upcoming Events
SURF 2012 Kickoff Dinner.
Image Credit: Bob Paz
SURF 2013 Kickoff Dinner

February 28, 6:00 p.m.


Like many grand traditions, our annual celebratory kickoff to the SURF season includes good food, great friends, and a lot of laughter. And, this year we have something really special to celebrate: 35 years of summer of undergraduate research at Caltech! What a great achievement for everyone who has been involved over the years!


Each year we dedicate the SURF year to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the program, our students, and the Institute. This year we dedicate SURF 2013 to Mark Reinecke. During the There's only one. Caltech campaign, Mark provided extraordinary support to SURF. As a senior development officer, he served as an exceptional liaison between the program, his colleagues, and our donors. Mark cares deeply about the SURF "story" and in helping to match us with donors who share our commitment to undergraduate research. As a result of his guidance and efforts, the Institute reached its goal of increasing the SURF endowment by $10M. Please join us in celebrating Mark's dedication and achievements!


Please RSVP by February 20th to sfp@caltech.edu or call 626-395-2885. Dinner cost is $60.


Quarks and Leptons (and other tidbits of matter...)
Image Credit: Bob Paz

Caltech Senior Wins Churchill Scholarship 

By Kimm Fesenmaier


Caltech senior Andrew Meng has been selected to receive a Churchill Scholarship, which will fund his graduate studies at the University of Cambridge for the next academic year. Meng, a chemistry and physics major, was one of only 14 students nationwide who were chosen to receive the fellowship this year.

Taking full advantage of Caltech's strong tradition of undergraduate research, Meng has worked since his freshman year in the lab of Nate Lewis, the George L. Argyros Professor and professor of chemistry. Over the course of three Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURFs) and several terms in the lab, Meng has investigated various applications of silicon microwire solar cells. Read full story 


Student-Faculty Programs

1200 E. California Blvd. Mail Code 330-87 626-395-2885
Website: http://sfp.caltech.edu/
Email: sfp@caltech.edu