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SCC STEM students seek research opportunities in Caltech conference

Judith Perez, staff writer

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Each year Robert Payawal, a tutor at SCC’s academic success center, encourages STEM students from Solano College to apply to the Caltech SURF program.

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) is a 10-week program at the private research university where undergraduate students are introduced into their respective STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field by working on a project with mentors.

Payawal participated in the program in the past by chairing sessions for Physics/Astronomy SURF Seminar Day and maintaining ties with the coordinators of the program

This year Payawal and three SCC students, Richard Coucoules, Mark Delarosa and Tan Ho, drove down to Pasadena for the conference that took place Saturday, Oct. 17.

“While at the conference, they learned more about the program from Dr. Candace Rypisi and Carol Casey,” said Payawal. Rypisi and Casey are the director and associate director, respectively, of Caltech Student Faculty Programs.

“The trip down to Pasadena was a true eye-opener,” said Mark Delarosa, an electrical engineering student, in an email. “All of the presentations were insightful, however, they were ever so dense in material that in a matter of minutes it was over my head.”

“It is this new curiosity that compels me to venture further into science,” Delarosa wrote.

“The thing about Caltech is that they have a certain atmosphere/environment that is not present here in Solano,” said Richard Coucoules, a MESA student. “You can feel a stronger community in the field and within the students. You can tell from how the students talk about their projects.”

To be part of the SURF program, applicants must first notify a mentor in Caltech beforehand to assist in a research proposal. More information can be found on Caltech’s website. Applications are due Feb. 22.

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SCC STEM students seek research opportunities in Caltech conference