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SURF Seminar Day

Greetings fellow Gnomes.

This is Paul Graven ’85 writing between sessions at SURF seminar day where I’m serving as a session chair for my 12th or 13th year –well behind Susan Murakami (17 years) and Mike Stefanko (19 years). Other Gnomes supporting SURF Seminar day this year include Peter Hung, Joe Cheng, Gary Stupian, and probably at least a few others. This is actually pretty typical of the level of support Club members are providing across campus throughout the year. Several Gnomes, including myself, serve on the SURF Board, and we have strong representation on the Caltech-Y Board and support of Caltech-Y events and activities. Additionally, we support numerous student activities in coordination with Tom Mannion, fellow Gnome and Caltech’s Senior Director for Student Activities and Programs. This year is the 40th anniversary of the start of Caltech’s SURF program, and more than 80% of students participate in at least one SURF project before they graduate. This year, 440 Caltech students SURFed including over 150 freshmen.

I was a session chair for the Summer SURF Seminar Day as well this year, and I’d like to encourage any of you who have the time and inclination to get involved. The students are impressive, and the talks are almost always both interesting and accessible –and often on the cutting edge of current research. My son Andrew is a sophomore at Cornell, and came back to do a JPL SURF this summer with Martin Lo ’75 on orbit mechanics, and had a great experience. For Summer Seminar Day, I got to chair the session on astronomy and astrophysics, and today (20 OCT 18) I am chairing the humanities and social sciences session. As usual, the students are great, and the talks have been fascinating and eclectic –from 18th century literature to modelling the perceived value of art to exploration of bias and learning to the use of machine learning to predict people’s preferences.

SURF relies on the contributions of alumni, parents and friends to support their amazing young scholars. For more information or to make a donation, please visit: