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  • A student engages in research in a lab.
    Students who participate in the SURF program are offered undergraduate research opportunities.
08/19/2014 13:54:39

SURF Students Present Research

On Thursday, August 21, undergraduate students from Caltech and visiting students from institutions around the country will cap off their 10-week Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) by showing off the results of their projects with an audience of colleagues, faculty, alumni, staff, friends, and family at the Student-Faculty Programs (SFP) Summer Seminar Day.

The SURF program supports students from Caltech and other universities while they participate in real laboratory research on campus. Since the program's inception in 1979, more than 6,200 students have SURFed, some more than once.

This year, 391 students, including 317 from Caltech, participated in the SURF program; 141 SURF students—with projects ranging from the development of power sources for biomedical devices to studies of seismic deformation—will present at Summer Seminar Day, along with students in affiliated programs including MURF, Amgen Scholars, LIGO SURF, and the SURF Exchange Programs. A second day of research presentations will occur in the fall.

"Our SURF program provides students with educational challenges that many of them may not encounter in their academic-year coursework," says Melany Hunt, the Dotty and Dick Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Caltech's vice provost. "Unlike homework sets with clearly stated questions, research problems are often ill defined. Hence, SURFers develop their skills in dealing with ambiguity and in plotting a course to understand and potentially to resolve the research question. Over the summer, they refine and hone their communication skills. And some SURFers experience the thrill of discovering something new!"

Oral presentations will take place from 1 to 4:30 p.m. in several buildings on campus, followed by poster presentations from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and a reception on the San Pasqual walk. For the session schedule and presentation locations, please visit:

Admission to the seminar day is free, and the public is welcome to attend.

Written by Kathy Svitil