#SoCaltech: Madelyn Stroder


“I’ve been amazed by how much I’ve learned. I started my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship [SURF] barely knowing how to use an Arduino, barely knowing what it was, hardly knowing how to code in Python much less C++, or how to use a microcontroller at all really. So, I started out my Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship by reading all this stuff and trying to teach myself all of this, and toward the end of the SURF, other people—grad students and postdocs—would come to me and say, ‘Hey, I have this idea for this experiment, but I don’t have the equipment for it. Can you design something that will do X, Y, and Z?’ and I would be able to say, ‘Well, yes, I think that will be possible.’ Being able to serve that function—going from not knowing what I was doing at all to becoming the person to go to in the lab—was an incredible experience for me. The fact that something I could teach myself could be such a valuable skill to everyone else in the lab—people who have way more experience than I do—was fantastic.”

Madelyn Stroder, a rising senior from Springfield, Missouri, is majoring in biological engineering at Caltech. This summer, she has been doing her SURF in the lab of Yuki Oka, assistant professor of biology, studying the neural basis of thirst by examining sensory perception of reward cues in rodents.

#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.