This year, the California Institute of Technology held a Graduate School Preview Program on October 29–31. Biochemistry major and senior Ms. Olivia McGovern was nominated by Dr. Jonathan Southard for consideration, and CalTech invited Ms. McGovern to attend.
During the visit, McGovern was able to meet students and faculty from six different labs in the areas of biology, biochemistry, and biophysics, where she learned that research faculty have a wide array of interests, including conscious decision making, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, molecular modeling, biomedical research with viruses and cancer, and cancer treatment via nanoparticle technology.
Not only were there a wide variety of research opportunities, but many in the program were surprised to find that research at CalTech almost always reached across disciplinary lines to encompass many fields. No lab seemed to contain students from only one area. Labs contained chemists, biochemists, physicists, engineers, and computer science students all working together on different aspects of the same or similar problem. McGovern was able to visit the wind tunnel lab where plane and car companies bring model cars and planes to test their aerodynamics. She also visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory sponsored by NASA, where she learned that students can help design new rovers, like ATHLETE, for space exploration on the moon and Mars.
“Everyone at CalTech was extremely personable, making everything in the program very enjoyable,” said McGovern. She recommends this program to anyone who is interested in CalTech for graduate school. “CalTech is a great place to be. There is a wide variety of exciting new research available to its students, and the small student-to-faculty ratio adds to the research experience rather than limiting it. It allows valuable relationships to form and gives a collaborative experience to apply to future research. You should definitely apply to this program since it was a great experience, and the trip was totally free—flight, hotel, and food. I will definitely be applying to CalTech.”