T-0 until the Summer Science Program

By the IU TA’s

First and foremost, OUR WARMEST WELCOME TO SSP IU. After months of bated breath, introductions over Discord, and intensive zoom preparation, we cannot believe that we will be meeting y’all for the very first time tomorrow! Last year showed us just how resilient and powerful the SSP community can be virtually, and we’re excited to make this year’s online SSP in Biochemistry even more special. You’ll be taken through a whirlwind of enzymatic exploration, modeling madness, and friendly fantasia—a combo we call “the experience of a lifetime”.

Our senior faculty and TA’s can’t wait to get the party started, so without further ado, here’s a snazzy introduction into your five TA’s—alongside a snapshot of where we were many, many years into our past. 

Devin Srivastava (he/him) is from a small town in South Carolina. His younger brother challenges him in ping pong and his older sister schools him in cooking daily. In high school, he loved tinkering with anything he could get his hands on, from his grandparents’ old car to his family’s dysfunctional technology; this led to a love of math and science (see me pictured at my original SSP!) which he explored further in college where he studied Chemistry. He has always been a sports aficionado, watching and playing sports of all kinds from ping-pong to cross country. He treasures his family above all else and is excited to include the 2021 SSP cohort in his new one!

Helen Cai (she/her) was raised in sunny Las Cruces, New Mexico. In high school she spent a lot of her time wearing embarrassing costumes for musical theater and show choir productions. Since graduating from high school, she’s spent her time wearing much more normal clothing, studying applied mathematics, and teaching English.

Kevin Tan (he/him) hails from Arcadia, California (about 30 minutes east of LA). He was involved in a variety of spaces during his high school years: the constitution team, anything biology related, and actual physical spaces he could squeeze into (note: humans are perfectly dryer sized, but do not try this at home!) He has since graduated from this “if it fits, I sits” framework to one that encompasses much more diverse perspectives, including social work, computer science, and design. 

Rachel Kalbfell (she/her) is from northwest Indiana (the region that calls itself part of “Chicago” instead of Indiana). She was a jock in high school and played a lot of soccer. Since then, she has moved on from soccer to cycling and spends much more time studying clinical neurotrauma and public advocacy. She also attended Indiana University and studied biochemistry with Saj, and she is moving to St. Louis to start medical school at Washington University in the fall.

Saj Desai (she/her) is from Bloomington, Indiana (Go Hoosiers!). She spent her high school years playing cello in the school orchestra and traveling every summer to compete in solar racing events (RIP Helionauts). Pictured here is a snapshot from one of those trips, where she encountered a deer roaming the train station outside Nara, Japan. After graduating from high school, Saj attended Indiana University where she studied Biochemistry and continued to play cello in string quartets. In the fall, she begins a research position in drug development which she is very excited for!