#SoCaltech: Aurora Ruiz Sandoval


“I'm in charge of making the fly food. …There's cornmeal, sugar, molasses, agar. Let me see if I forgot anything. I also add potassium, calcium, yeast, and some preservatives. Early in my time here I also used to help Dr. [Edward] Lewis [Caltech biology professor and co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine] separate the female fruit flies from the males. He used a little ether so they would fall asleep, that way you can work with them. Otherwise, if they're awake it is impossible. Dr. Lewis would say, ‘You have half an hour to do this. Otherwise they are going to wake up.’ I’d do it under the microscope with a tiny, tiny brush, because the flies are very small. Have you seen the flies? They are very tiny. They're beautiful. You have to be very careful not to damage their wings. Under a microscope you see the colors of the wings, you see the very light blue with yellow. It’s like the colors of the rainbow.” 

Aurora Ruiz Sandoval began working at Caltech in 1987. She makes food for the fruit flies used in research in labs throughout the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering. 

#SoCaltech is an occasional series celebrating the diverse individuals who give Caltech its spirit of excellence, ambition, and ingenuity. Know someone we should profile? Send nominations to magazine@caltech.edu.