Aim for the stars. Or the planets. It's easy if you're a JPL intern.
Six Oxy students worked with some of the nation's top scientists this year to track the evolution of stars, develop intelligent computer vision, and improve fuel cell efficiency, among other projects.
The six students, whose majors range from physics and biology to math, landed their research internships as part of the Student Independent Research Program at nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Each collaborated on a project in their particular field of interest.
Inca Dieterich '12, a biology major from Ketchum, Idaho, worked to explore the possibility of Earth's microbes contaminating other planets.
"Working at JPL has given me the opportunity to be around people who are constantly engaged in conversation," she says. "There is an ever-present sense of collaboration that allows the scientists and engineers to fuse their minds into a powerhouse for [inventing] the ideas of a century."
Simran Sangha '14, a geology major from Pasadena, helped to map Martian lava flows and is excited about "the prospect of collaborating with so many experienced scientists and being given a chance to contribute."
Oxy's participation is the latest expression of its long relationship with Caltech and JPL. JPL Director Charles Elachi recently noted that Occidental "is an important pipeline for JPL, providing us with scientists, engineers, and even members of our executive leadership." Among the more than three dozen Oxy alumni on staff: Diane Evans '76, director for the Earth Science and Technology Directorate.