Ada Ates is a fourth grader who was in charge Opinions social media and website from summer 2021 to fall 2022. Her involvement in curating Opinions having an online presence gave each writer a sense that their stories mattered and made everyone in the office feel that their contributions were appreciated. Ada is graduating with a degree in neuroscience and computer science and is focusing on data science. She has been working part-time at the Van Valen Lab at the California Institute of Technology since Spring 2022 and will go full-time after graduation.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you start working at Review?
We don’t really have free speech in Türkiye, so I wanted to get involved Reviewbut I knew I was not a good writer in English. Kushagra Kar, the editor-in-chief, spoke to me at the end of the spring semester and said, “We have this position (for social media manager) and you should apply.” I had a passion for graphic design, so I thought, “I’ll give it a shot and maybe I can stay here for the summer and spend time with my friends.” I’ve always wanted to be part of the community. Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made here.
What do you think was your greatest achievement as a social media and network manager?
I think the greatest achievement is that Review it’s getting recognition now because that’s what I wanted when I got the job. I knew from Kar how much work you do, but not many people understand and appreciate it.
Tell me a little about your fields of study.
I wasn’t thinking about going into neuroscience – I knew I had an interest in the brain, but I was determined not to become a doctor like my parents. I was just about to go to computer science.
I started doing computer science and my question was, “Why aren’t we interested in how computers learn like humans?” Because the human brain has a big impact on computing. I’m really interested in the point where the two come together because I think they can be really helpful for a lot of things.
For a long time, I wanted to build these prostheses that you can just use with your brain. I want to be a scientist who will create things that help protect health.
Can you tell me a bit about your work in neuroscience at Van Valen Lab at Caltech?
We receive funding from Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s, funded by Michael J. Fox. Our task is to develop a model that will track 3D images of neurons so that we can map the neural networks in the brain so that we can understand how Parkinson’s arises, detect it and treat it better.
I basically browse the literature, find the data, standardize it, and feed it into the workflow. We’re only in the early stages, so it’s mostly data-driven at the moment.
Looking back on your time at Oberlin, what advice would you give yourself from your first year?
You don’t have to do everything. I understand the fear of missing out is real with COVID-19, double majors and minors and all, and I know this is literally every Oberlin person’s experience. But just make mistakes, you know?
I feel like I haven’t really delved into it, and this week I was thinking, “What am I doing? I will never go back to school again.” What if you made that one mistake, it wasn’t the best decision, or you stayed out instead of studying for your exam the next morning?
What do you think you will take away from your working time at Review?
People are unpredictable. I’d try polls – they didn’t seem to attract attention, but what you’re doing now where people express their opinions seems to be attracting people. You’d think that since you’re probably looking at stories, it would be easier to conduct polls. Things like that were really interesting. I learned a lot and also improved a lot in the field of graphic design.
I got used to being out of my comfort zone, which was nice, but I also had supportive people around me, so I didn’t feel like I was going to be kicked out or anything.