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Get out of the lab, get on Twitter

Get out of the lab, get on Twitter

June 30, 2020

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 how I stay posted on what my friends, favorite celebrities, and social media influencers are up to. Every once in a while, you might even […]

*Actually* looking forward to my commute

*Actually* looking forward to my commute

June 30, 2020

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, when podcasts experienced a large resurgence of popularity, with nearly 32% of the US population listening to podcasts monthly, and 22% listening weekly. The podcast […]

Mental Health Matters: Issue #2

Mental Health Matters: Issue #2

June 23, 2020

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 it’s especially important to know that it is okay to reach out for help and support – whether to a trusted family member, good friend, […]

Ask and you shall receive

Ask and you shall receive

June 23, 2020

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 and crushing dread. It felt like the world was ending, even though from a rational place I knew that it definitely wasn’t. From my bed, […]

Holidazed and confused

Holidazed and confused

June 23, 2020

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 air, breathing down the napes of necks and nipping at the ankles of passersby. For many adults, December means the holidays and family and endless […]

You mean, it’s not unhealthy?

You mean, it’s not unhealthy?

June 22, 2020

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 motivated to study Biochemistry for another, somewhat unusual reason: an eating disorder I’d developed at age sixteen. That year, I watched “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” […]

My journey home

My journey home

June 8, 2020

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. As a result, moving to almost the furthest state possible for at least half a decade came with some concerns. What will the winter be […]

Doing a PhD is a solo trip

Doing a PhD is a solo trip

June 8, 2020

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 am alone! What was so different about it this time? I had already been living alone and regularly traveling to visit family for nearly a […]

Piruksraurugut!

Piruksraurugut!

June 8, 2020

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 Inuit hand poke method, where a needle is dipped into ink and then poked into the skin. Part of the meaning behind the two thinnest […]

Adapting to a pandemic world

Adapting to a pandemic world

June 1, 2020

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 – needless to say, those days are long behind me. When I got to grad school, I vowed to have some sense of normalcy about […]

Making it work

Making it work

June 1, 2020

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 respond with skepticism — “right, because that’s a productive use of time”. Yet, today I would argue that such education is not only possible but […]

Two cats move to Cambridge

Two cats move to Cambridge

June 1, 2020

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 walk in, while her sister Kiwi, the calico, leads the way to the kitchen. After dinner, the cats loaf around in their usual spots―Kiwi on […]

The buddy system

The buddy system

May 26, 2020

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 reading papers, and managing personal life goals. Everyone has a research advisor and, usually, labmates with whom they can discuss research concerns, but it’s not […]

A thermodynamic model of friendship

A thermodynamic model of friendship

May 26, 2020

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 a physics degree upon me back in the day. Friendships take energy to maintain. Entropically speaking, the preferred arrangement is total disorder, an every-person-for-themselves world. […]

My year in the wild

My year in the wild

May 26, 2020

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, not if I was going to do so. I spent my last couple years of college deliberating whether I was going to apply to graduate […]

Loafing around at MIT

Loafing around at MIT

May 18, 2020

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 entire cup of water from a naan recipe, resulting in a hard puck-shaped mass with the texture of stale Ritz crackers. But I kept at […]

Terraforming friendship

Terraforming friendship

May 18, 2020

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 we enjoyed — Terraforming Mars. The game took place on a very special Sunday in Boston: it was 70 degrees Fahrenheit — in January. His […]

Is grad school harder than a headstand?

Is grad school harder than a headstand?

May 18, 2020

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 people from all over the world, you’re taking challenging classes, and in many departments, you’re also required to teach and do research right off the […]

Teaching a lab module…on Zoom

Teaching a lab module…on Zoom

May 9, 2020

“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 beginning of the semester. Back then, our only concern was helping students who were missing class due to self-isolation after winter break travel. Since I […]

Big changes in the qualifying exam procedure

Big changes in the qualifying exam procedure

May 9, 2020

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 complete an oral exam and prove your competence in the field in which you hope to receive your PhD. In many departments at MIT, this […]

An Indian Spice Blend™ you won’t find at Whole Foods

An Indian Spice Blend™ you won’t find at Whole Foods

May 9, 2020

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 Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix standup special, Homecoming King. It was a win-win: my immigrant parents got to see a young brown man rise to fame, and […]

Dungeons and biology

Dungeons and biology

May 4, 2020

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 since we last met. We recap our previous meeting. What happens next is less normal. I begin narrating: “The barroom is dimly lit, and rain […]

Letters to a not-so-young-anymore grad school applicant

Letters to a not-so-young-anymore grad school applicant

May 4, 2020

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 that, in the summer of 2017, when I decided to apply to grad school. By that time I had worked for five years at several […]

The bright side of isolation

The bright side of isolation

May 4, 2020

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 so far. On the other hand, the social impact of it has been much more profound. From an exponential increase in the discussions (mostly about […]

What do I do when I can’t go to lab?

What do I do when I can’t go to lab?

April 27, 2020

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 that doesn’t have to stop you from working on your research! There are lots of ways to push your research forward without physically running experiments. […]

COVID-26.2

COVID-26.2

April 27, 2020

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 before about my lab’s crazy adventure in running across New Hampshire together and about using running as a form of stress relief, but I never […]

Great podcasts to accompany quarantine

Great podcasts to accompany quarantine

April 27, 2020

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 King (as well as seemingly everything else on Netflix), podcasts are a great way to pass the time between Zoom calls. I’ve established quite a […]

What business does a modeler have at sea?

What business does a modeler have at sea?

April 27, 2020

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 started applying to graduate schools. Next thing I knew, I was a part of the incoming class for the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean […]

Dang, you live in Tang?

Dang, you live in Tang?

April 20, 2020

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 like a straightforward conversation. However, my answer often elicits two kinds of reactions. I either get a slightly sympathetic look (or an occasional smirk from […]

Networking for introverts

Networking for introverts

April 20, 2020

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 in the time of quarantine  – when both group and one-on-one meetings are as important as ever. Networking. For some of us introverts out there, […]

Away, with a slice of MIT

Away, with a slice of MIT

April 20, 2020

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, I was amazed and attracted to this deeply interwoven fabric of differences. But MIT is also a place of contradictions. As an insider, i.e. after […]

Fitting into MIT

Fitting into MIT

April 13, 2020

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 of excitement, I called my mom and somehow managed to string together words to convey the good news to her. At the end of the […]

Continued community in the era of social distancing

Continued community in the era of social distancing

April 13, 2020

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 to an almost vacant campus. My heart goes out in sadness to the senior undergraduate students who never got the joys of senior spring that […]

A different kind of long-distance relationship

A different kind of long-distance relationship

April 13, 2020

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 to catch coronavirus). But some of us are already well-acquainted with the joys of skyping in sweatpants and rolling out of bed ten minutes before […]

To build a home

To build a home

April 6, 2020

When you introduce two people to one another, you often contextualize who that person is to you. The words we use to categorize these people are sometimes simple, but sometimes people fill more than one role in your life. For example, your mother may also be your dental hygienist but you’re probably going to introduce […]

Forced to leave home

Forced to leave home

April 6, 2020

A message to MIT grad housing: if your tenant’s best housing option is to haphazardly make a 13-hour interstate drive in the middle of a literal plague after being given only two days’ notice, you are doing something horribly wrong. I live in one of the graduate dorms — Ashdown House — and I absolutely […]