#SoCaltech: Victor Tsai

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Professor of Geophysics and Caltech alumnus Victor Tsai (BS '04) received his PhD from Harvard and carried out his postdoctoral work also at Harvard and at the U.S. Geological Survey. Tsai returned to Caltech as a member of the faculty in 2011. His research focuses on trying to understand the sources of ambient seismic noise and the short-timescale variability of glaciers. To hear more from Tsai, check out "How to Advance Earth Science" on the Break Through: The Caltech Campaign website.

"As a student, honestly, I didn't realize how lucky I was. I basically had three research advisers while I was an undergraduate at Caltech; all three of them were not just at the top of their fields, but the world leaders in their fields. Since coming back as a faculty member, I've tried to mentor undergraduates the way I was mentored. It can be challenging, because sometimes students don't know that much about a specialized field. They're really smart and they have a lot of the basic training to be a scientist, but they don't know, for example, how you could use a seismometer to measure sediment transport. So there's often a lot of teaching that has to go on in a pretty short amount of time. I realize even more now how great my undergraduate advisers were in terms of leading someone who may be smart and wants to accomplish something interesting over a 10-week period. It's sometimes hard to lead them in the right direction over such a short amount of time. But I've tried."

#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.