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Sona Avetian- University of California Irvine

This summer I was given the incredible opportunity to participate in the Center for Chemistry at the Space-Time Limit (CaSTL) program at University of California, Irvine. During this internship I had the privilege of working in Sona and Profesor Wilson Ho's LabProfessor Wilson Ho’s lab, utilizing low temperature scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) to image single molecules on surfaces. This lab is very instrumentation oriented, allowing me to learn how to construct apparatuses, such as a molecular evaporator, from scratch. This included learning how to operate machinery, such as a milling machine, to make pieces and then assembling them. In addition to learning how the system operates, I was able to collect images of single molecules as well as spectra of the vibrational modes. 
When not busy learning in the lab, I was able to explore the beautiful areas of Orange County as well as the diverse culture. UCI itself is a breathtakingly beautiful campus--the buildings are on a ring surrounding a spacious park filled with lush vegetation. With the ocean being just down the road, I was able to spend quite some time in Newport and Laguna beaches. Of course I also made a point to see some of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and some of the landmarks such as the Chinese Theatre. I was able to see one of the most iconic views of Los Angeles, from the Griffith Observatory. This was one of the most incredible views--all of Los Angeles and some of the neighboring cities can be seen for miles! 
In addition to great sights, there is really great food all over Los Angeles and Orange County. I tried authentic Chinese, Persian, Armenian and Korean food, and was able to experience the culture as well. With so much available to me, I was also able to push some of my boundaries and try unique foods, like chicken feet and raw oysters! Overall this experience was incredible, and I have learned so much both inside and out of the lab, doing and trying new things and experiences! The CaSTL program is certainly one of the best internships in which I have had the pleasure of working, and I highly encourage others to apply!