Beyond the Lab

In defense of the MBTA
Trash littered across the floor. Stifling, oppressive heat in a poorly lit space. Loud screeching. The smell of burning… I don’t even know. No, I’m not at a damp college…
Changing your habits one sunrise at a time
In my third year of graduate school, I decided to become a morning person. I had fallen into a group of friends who regularly got up at ungodly times of…
Get out of the lab, get on Twitter
As any millennial, I spend a lot of time on social media. Facebook is my go-to place for cute animal videos or life updates from baby boomer relatives. Instagram is…
*Actually* looking forward to my commute
Remember when iPods first became popular in the early 2000s and included an innocuous purple icon for the “Podcasts” app that hardly anyone paid attention to? Flash forward to 2019,…
Mental Health Matters: Issue #2
This week we are publishing a second issue on mental health, with our first issue released in February 2020. In these difficult times for all of us, we believe that…
Ask and you shall receive
It was my first semester of grad school, and I was curled up in a ball on my dorm room bed. I was experiencing a distinct mixture of flu-like symptoms…
Holidazed and confused
It’s December. Holiday music peals through the air, and the hallways are decked in reds, greens, golds and silvers. The anticipation for the end of the year hangs in the…
You mean, it’s not unhealthy?
TRIGGER WARNING: eating disorders The road to kale is paved with good intentions Many students select their college majors because of inspiring teachers, envisioned careers, or particular interests. I was…
My journey home
I am a California girl. I love walks on the beach, wearing shorts in January, cultural acceptance of athleisure wear as commonplace dress, and every restaurant having a vegetarian option.…
Doing a PhD is a solo trip
As the plane bound for Switzerland took off towards my first solo trip, the feelings of fear in that 3rd-year PhD student gave way to excitement as I realized: I…
Piruksraurugut!
For thousands of years, Inuit women celebrated womanhood and rites of passage by giving and receiving traditional markings. Two years ago, I received my tavluġun (chin tattoo) through a traditional…
Adapting to a pandemic world
I am the absolute worst at working from home. During college I often did my homework not only from home, but also while all nice and cozy in my bed…
Making it work
What if I told you that a grad school education could include the finer details of wooden corgi carving? If you told me that a year ago I would immediately…
Two cats move to Cambridge
Every night, when I come home, I’m greeted by the hungry calls of my two cats, Kiwi and Clem. Clem, the tortie, usually weaves in between my legs as I…
The buddy system
Graduate school is overwhelming and lonely at times. In addition to producing good research, graduate students have to balance networking, taking classes, staying updated on advances in their field by…
A thermodynamic model of friendship
Disclaimer: I have not taken a physics class in years, and the unavoidable inaccuracies in the discussion that follows should in no way reflect poorly on the professors/department that bestowed…
My year in the wild
Once I realized I wanted to be a professor, grad school felt inevitable. It was a question of when I wanted to spend at least five more years in school,…
Terraforming friendship
My friend recently flew back to visit his grad school friends. All of us used to do many things together. Since he was back, we decided to play a game…
Loafing around at MIT
I started baking not too long ago, mostly at the advice of acquaintances who were already proficient bakers. My first few attempts weren’t great; I once managed to omit an…
Is grad school harder than a headstand?
Editor Note: This post was originally written before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. The first semester of graduate school is pretty hard. You’re surrounded by new…
Teaching a lab module…on Zoom
“The first thing we have to talk about is coronavirus.” That’s what the director of the undergraduate chemistry laboratory said when all the lab teaching assistants (TAs) gathered at the…
Big changes in the qualifying exam procedure
Imagine standing in front of a panel of faculty members, some of the most prominent academics in the world of aerospace engineering, having prepared for a short 60 minutes to…
An Indian Spice Blend™ you won’t find at Whole Foods
One of the most challenging tasks every family must undertake at some point in their lives is deciding what to watch together. One evening, the compromise for our family was…
Dungeons and biology
Every other Sunday, six biologists gather around my apartment’s dining table. The meeting starts out normally enough, each of us giving one science and one non-science update about our lives…
Letters to a not-so-young-anymore grad school applicant
Now that I am close to graduating with a masters degree in City Planning, I’m reflecting on how I’ve grown in the past two years. It was a year before…
The bright side of isolation
Being a graduate student whose work mostly takes place on a PC, the changes in MIT policies related to COVID-19 have not impacted my academic work by a large amount…
What do I do when I can’t go to lab?
Sometimes, going to lab isn’t an option. Whether it’s due to an injury, illness, family or, as in 2020, COVID-19, life often gets in the way of planned experiments. But…
COVID-26.2
I’m a big fan of running, to the point where one of my labmates described me as being known among her friends as “a running and cider fiend”. I’ve written…
Great podcasts to accompany quarantine
Allow me to remind you of a fantastic form of entertainment that you used to listen to during your commute: podcasts! For those of us who have already finished Tiger…
What business does a modeler have at sea?
If you’re anything like me, then there is a good chance you have never even heard of a research cruise. That was about my (lack of) knowledge level until I…
Dang, you live in Tang?
Random grad student: “Do you live on campus?” Me: “Yep.” RGS: “Where?” Me: *slightly wincing in anticipation of oncoming judgment* “I live in Tang Hall.” On the surface, this seems…
Networking for introverts
Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted to us before the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, but we believe that the advice given here is still highly relevant…
Away, with a slice of MIT
It’s no secret that MIT celebrates differences and diversity. Different interests, backgrounds, working styles, expertise, ambitions, perspectives, voices … the list is endless. As an outsider, before I joined MIT,…
Fitting into MIT
When I got my acceptance email from MIT, I actually cried. My childhood dream was coming true, and my emotions were a whirlwind of excitement and disbelief. In a fit…
Continued community in the era of social distancing
Coronavirus has drastically changed our daily lives as MIT students. In the span of a week, we have gone from attending regularly scheduled classes and happily discussing spring break plans…
A different kind of long-distance relationship
Now that we’re working from home and many of us have relocated from campus, maintaining effective communication with our advisors remotely presents an additional stressor (on top of trying not…