Ada Ates is a fourth grader who managed the review’s social media and website from Summer 2021 to Fall 2022. Her dedication to curating the review’s online presence made each author feel their stories were meaningful and made everyone in the office feel their contributions were valued. Ada graduated with a degree in Neuroscience and Computer Science with a concentration in Data Science. She has been working part-time at the Van Valen Lab at the California Institute of Technology since spring 2022 and will transition to a full-time position upon graduation.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you start working at Review?
We don’t really have freedom of expression in Turkey, so I’ve always wanted to contribute to the review, but I knew I’m not a good writer in English. Editor-in-Chief Kushagra Kar 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 was passionate about graphic design and I thought to myself, “I’ll give this a chance and maybe I can stay here for the summer and hang out with friends.” I’ve always wanted to be part of a be community. Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I made here.
What do you think has been your greatest achievement as a social media and web manager?
I think the biggest achievement is that the review is getting credit now because that’s what I wanted when I got the job. From Kar I knew how much work you do, but not many people understand and appreciate that.
Tell me about your majors.
I didn’t think about going into neuroscience – I knew I was interested in the brain, but I was determined not to become a doctor like my parents. I just wanted to study computer science.
I started studying computer science and my question was: “Why aren’t we interested in how computers learn like humans?” Because the human brain influences computer science a lot. 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.
I’ve always wanted to build these prosthetics that you can just use with your brain. I want to be a researcher creating helpful things in healthcare.
Can you tell me about your neuroscience work at the 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 traces 3D neuron images so that we can map neuronal networks in the brain to understand how Parkinson’s develops, how to recognize it and how to treat it better.
Basically, I go through the literature, find data, standardize it and insert it into the workflow. We’re only in the first phase, so it’s mostly data-based at the moment.
Looking back on your time at Oberlin, what advice would you give your freshman?
You don’t have to do everything. I understand that with COVID-19 and the double majors and minors and all, the fear of missing out is a real thing, and I know that’s literally every Oberlin person’s experience. But you just make mistakes, you know?
I feel like I didn’t really address it, and this week I was like, ‘What do I do? I’m never going to college again.’ So what if you made that one mistake, it’s not the best decision or stayed outside instead of studying for the exam the next morning?
What do you think you will take away from your time at the review?
People are unpredictable. I would try to do polls – they didn’t seem to draw attention, but the thing you’re doing now that people are giving their opinions seems to attract people. You’d think it would be easier to do polls since you’re probably flipping through the stories. Things like that were really interesting. I learned a lot and also improved a lot in graphic design.
I got used to being out of my comfort zone, which was nice, but I also had supportive people with me so I didn’t feel like I was being ripped off or anything.