Jahnavi Shah

M.Sc. Candidate, Geophysics & Planetary Science

First Entry: Look back at Summer ’18 + New beginnings in Fall ’18!

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in University of Toronto’s DEEP Leadership Camp as the Team Leader. DEEP (DaVinci Engineering Enrichment Program) is facilitated by UofT’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering through the Engineering Outreach Office. The motive of the program is to engage local and international high school students in hands-on learning experiences focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). DEEP offers many courses such as Microfluids, Data Analytics, Bioengineering, and many more. One of its unique course is Leadership Camp which is an overnight camp located at the Gull Lake UofT Civil Engineering Survey Camp in Minden, Ontario. DEEP Leadership Camp provides an opportunity for students to explore and develop leadership skills through STEM activities in an outdoor setting.

As the Team Leader for this program, my responsibilities included managing a team of instructors and lifeguards, and overseeing the daily activities. This was a very unique opportunity because I got to see the administrative and logistical side of running a camp (including hiring, health inspections, and emergency response planning). In addition, this was the first time in the last 5 years where I wasn’t taking a course or doing research or studying. So, it served as a break (in some sense) but also a new and fun challenge. Some of the activities offered at camp this year included: Engineering Design, Astrophotography, Making solar cells, Lake Ecology, Urban Water Management, Survival, etc. My favourite memories are definitely the students and getting to spend most of my time outdoors by a lake.

In between camp sessions, I graduated (which was very exciting!) and I got some time to spend with friends and family in the city. I was also able to re-explore some places which I loved visiting as a child such as the Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum. My favourite parts about these places are the planetarium show (I really enjoy how interactive it is), and the fossil records and meteorite collection, respectively. Overall, it was a great summer and a memorable way to say goodbye to the city (at least for next few years) I’ve called home for the last 5 years.

The transition from summer to fall was very quick, I had just about a week to pack and move to London after I came back from camp. There were a few challenges along the way but I made it to London in time to participate in the Planetary Science Short Course. I had a really amazing experience learning about different aspects of the field and engaging in hands-on activities such as the JMARS and astromaterials lab. Another part that I liked about this course was getting to meet and work with students from different fields/departments (physics, astronomy, and engineering). It really goes to show how interdisciplinary the field of planetary science is. Coursework and unpacking covered most of my first 2 weeks in London, with a little bit of time to attend orientation events. I attended events organized by the Earth Science Department, the SGPS (School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), and even the SOGS (Society of Graduate Students). All of these events were interesting, got to learn some important information about the different student services at Western and got to explore the campus a little bit.

More recently in the past week, I have started to read some recommended literature on planetary radar and have been exploring terrestrial impact radar data. I am very excited to start my research journey here at Western in the Neish Lab. I am also looking forward to working with my supervisor and lab mates and learning from them. And all-in-all, I hope to make the most of my time in London. Stay tuned to read about my research and adventures!

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