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Get out of the Lab and See the World!

Get out of the Lab and See the World!

June 24, 2019

Last September, I anxiously stood in front of my thesis committee, waiting for them to comment on my graduation timeline. To my surprise, not only did they say I could graduate soon, but they even suggested a date — May 2019! My initial reaction was the urge to go climb a rooftop and shout the […]

Learn to Swim

Learn to Swim

June 24, 2019

I was brought up in places far from lakes and rivers. The non-availability of swimming facilities in my high school and college led to my inability to learn to swim until I joined MIT as a graduate student. Here at MIT, however, the presence of Charles River right next to the campus inspired me to […]

Girly

Girly

June 17, 2019

“Let us choose for ourselves our path in life, and let us try to strew that path with flowers.” – Emilie du Chatelet, Physicist I love dresses and bows, face masks and makeup. When I get ready for a day in lab, I avoid it all. It’s my first semester at MIT, and I wear a […]

Going Through a Breakup

Going Through a Breakup

June 17, 2019

I came back to Boston after a month of traveling to find out that my boyfriend and I had fallen out of love. After an ever-difficult conversation during a rainy September night, I was faced with the necessity to adjust to my “single” relationship status while staying on top of my responsibilities as a graduate […]

Explain the MIT Undergrads to Me

Explain the MIT Undergrads to Me

June 10, 2019

As a newly arrived graduate student at MIT, you may have noticed that the undergrads are a bit… crazy. Don’t worry, I’m your local neighborhood undergrad-whisperer, and I’m here to help. As a current Graduate Resident Advisor (GRA) at the East Campus undergraduate dorm and a former crazy undergrad myself at Caltech, I have a […]

Sailing Outside My Comfort Zone

Sailing Outside My Comfort Zone

June 3, 2019

It all started with an email: ‘Urgent: Help needed for a research cruise in the Arctic ocean. No prior experience required’. The message had been sent to my department’s mailing list and described a month-long research opportunity to conduct oceanographic field work along the coast of Alaska. I read the email with a feeling of […]

Carving Nature at Its Joints

Carving Nature at Its Joints

June 3, 2019

Last January. A friend recommends a scientific paper. At this time I am a computer science student thinking of quitting computer science, because I live in California, and love computers but have grown exhausted by Silicon Valley. The paper is called ‘Building Machines That Learn and Think Like People’, and it is sixty pages long. It […]

A Structured Approach to Course Planning

A Structured Approach to Course Planning

May 28, 2019

Whether you attend MIT or another school, one of the things you may find challenging is planning the courses you will take over the entirety of your graduate career. As an incoming student of a cross-disciplinary program in Integrated Design & Management, I had the opportunity to select courses from both the School of Engineering and Sloan […]

Practicing Good Hygge-ne

Practicing Good Hygge-ne

May 28, 2019

It is hard to make time for all the things you want to do at MIT. There was one week my Google calendar had so many overlapping events, meetings and deadlines that it looked like a colorful mosaic worthy of the contemporary art section at the MFA. From 9AM to 11AM on Wednesday, I somehow had […]

On Rooftops in Cambridge and That Elusive Feeling of Hereness

On Rooftops in Cambridge and That Elusive Feeling of Hereness

May 28, 2019

A long time ago, I climbed a roof here. Though I should clarify and revise; this is, after all, an institute built on precision. Recently, a professor returned a response paper I had written with a comment that read, this is all very interesting, but this is a rigorous field, and you need to say […]

Finding My Grad School Home

Finding My Grad School Home

May 21, 2019

When I arrived in the foreboding metropolis of Boston, I sought a group of friends that brings soup when someone is sick, welcomes each other into our homes even at the lowest of times, asks deep questions, and challenges each other to be the best we can be. I struggled adapting to this new place […]

An Ode to My Slow Cooker

An Ode to My Slow Cooker

May 21, 2019

 The special appliance: my slow cooker   I want to thank one special appliance Whose dedication and trusty alliance Have been a time saver for a busy grad mom. You snuck into my kitchen with quiet aplomb, Arriving, in a box, some years ago– Black and sleek. How was I to know That you would […]

Trains, Buses, and Feet

Trains, Buses, and Feet

May 21, 2019

On Tuesday mornings, I catch a 7:30 bus to get to an 8:30 class. This class is roughly 2.5 miles from my apartment.  Why so far? Well, I’m a PhD student in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, which focuses on integrating clinical experience into an engineering PhD. This involves taking M.D. classes through […]

Educating Myself Out of Education

Educating Myself Out of Education

May 13, 2019

I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t always tell the truth.  When people ask me about MIT, I tend to oversell it. After all, it is one of the best, if not the best, university on the planet, nestled at the top of all international rankings. Once up here, everyone simply expects you to be […]

Advising Advice

Advising Advice

May 13, 2019

At the end of my second year at MIT, I chose to switch to a different advisor, based on our overlapping interests in a specific research area. This turned out to be a great decision, but for many reasons that I hadn’t even remotely thought about when I made the choice. I’m very conscious now […]

A Primer for Understanding ‘Merica

A Primer for Understanding ‘Merica

May 13, 2019

This blog is the continuation of my first blog where I wrote about my first few days in the USA. When I came to the USA from India to attend grad school, I had to learn many cultural norms that were very different from those at home on the other side of the planet. It was a steep […]

A Minor Change for A Major Reward

A Minor Change for A Major Reward

May 6, 2019

I should start a new hobby. I came to this conclusion when my answer to the question, “research + sleep = 24 hours?” was “yes, but not always”. Although finding downtime can be difficult, especially when you are taking courses, it is a necessary part of staying sane and healthy in graduate school. To get […]

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

May 6, 2019

Some people choose their PhD projects based on raw scientific curiosity. Some seek buzz words, industry partners, or flashy technology to jumpstart profitable future careers. Some find their projects based on available funding. Me? I chose my project because it had almost killed me. Sepsis. Global killer of millions. Personal nemesis. And my research topic. […]

What the Puck?

What the Puck?

May 6, 2019

In my first year of graduate school, I fell on my butt a lot. It’s as if I would forget about my feet. I would be gliding along smoothly, comfortably shifting from one skate to the other, but if a puck slid in my direction — and I had to get it! — my skates […]

Celebrating Graduate Women of Excellence

Celebrating Graduate Women of Excellence

April 30, 2019

Honorees are nominated and selected in a process based on their leadership and service contributions at the Institute, their dedication to mentoring, and their drive to make changes to improve the student experience. In a celebration held on April 29, 2019 at the Samberg Center, honorees shared information about their path to MIT, their work […]

BYOB or…  Bring Your Own Bowl

BYOB or… Bring Your Own Bowl

April 29, 2019

I don’t know about you, but I like to take a break at lunchtime. When, two years ago, I started my PhD, I used to walk everyday out of building 54 to go to the Stata Center cafe, Sebastians, or the irreplaceable Saté Grill food truck. I would put in my order, and in no […]

How to Pass a Harvard Class

How to Pass a Harvard Class

April 29, 2019

Shopping Day is like speed dating for courses at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Herds of students filter in and out of classrooms. Nervous chatter splinters out across the students until the professor sweeps in and quiets the crowd. There I sat in a room, staring people in the eye that I had seen […]

MIT in a Year

MIT in a Year

April 29, 2019

Nine months. The length of a human pregnancy. Also the length of my time at MIT. To clarify, this is not a story about pregnancy. Ask most MIT graduate students how long they plan to be here, and two years is the minimum. Many will be here well beyond four as they pursue a PhD. […]

Back to Square One

Back to Square One

April 22, 2019

I just came back from Shanghai a week ago. It was my first trip home since I came to MIT in the summer of 2017. It’s been over a year and a half. I saw a lot of friends and family on this trip, including my high school math teacher. He told me the story […]

Grief

Grief

April 22, 2019

My dead dad emailed me today. I was sitting in a shared office along with a postdoc when I saw my dad’s name pop into my inbox. My breath caught in my throat. Is this a message from beyond? A beat passed. I clicked. I was sure the note was written by my dad. Alyssa, […]

The Simple Pleasures of Gardening

The Simple Pleasures of Gardening

April 22, 2019

There are few things in life as satisfying as eating home-grown food. Whether it is flavorful herbs, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers or other delicious produce, it is simply delightful to consume freshly picked fruits and vegetables. This is especially true after the endless supply of greasy pizzas one inevitably ingests as a grad student. Moreover, […]

So… What Do You Two Even Talk About?

So… What Do You Two Even Talk About?

April 16, 2019

When a new acquaintance learns that I am a graduate student at MIT, their first question is often about whether or not my husband is also an MIT student or postdoc. They are usually surprised to hear that he is not an MIT researcher — and further amazed to learn that he is not a […]

First Impressions of the USA

First Impressions of the USA

April 16, 2019

I arrived in New Jersey to attend graduate school two years ago. I was mostly nervous and a little bit excited. This was the first time I had flown internationally and also the first time I had flown in an airplane! Upon arrival I was greeted by the air hostess who apologetically told us that […]

Taking the Lead on Leadership

Taking the Lead on Leadership

April 16, 2019

A surprising portion of my undergraduate education at the United States Military Academy (West Point) was spent getting punched in the face, trying to stay alive in a class called survival swimming, and gasping for fresh air as I ran indoor obstacle courses. My after-school activities included walking in circles around a giant field for […]

Ways of Responding to Accusations of Intelligence

Ways of Responding to Accusations of Intelligence

April 16, 2019

An awkward yet common situation that I’ve witnessed at MIT is one in which someone is accused of being intelligent. While grateful for such charitable perceptions, the accused is often left speechless, befuddled or even reflexively defensive. This post is not about how I feel about said accusations, the veracity of such claims, or my […]

Gambling with Degrees

Gambling with Degrees

April 8, 2019

How many master’s degrees is too many? It’s not a very common problem to have. Yet for some of us that have already completed a couple years of postgraduate education before coming to MIT, the question comes up. I must admit I hadn’t looked much at the course requirements for a PhD before applying. A […]

You Got NSF, Now What?

You Got NSF, Now What?

April 8, 2019

It’s early April. You wake up and refresh the emails on your phone. There is an email from your professor congratulating you on getting the NSF, a colloquial expression for getting into the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. You excitingly text your friends and call your family. After a later-than-expected breakfast, you rush […]

The Project Management Triangle

The Project Management Triangle

April 8, 2019

Graduate school is a wonderful time to indulge in research, fun side projects, and coursework. This is especially true at MIT, where opportunities are plentiful, whether it be startups, teaching, courses, or working with professors. This is both a blessing and curse, especially for someone like me, for whom saying no to exciting opportunities is […]

Cambridge Tea Party

Cambridge Tea Party

April 8, 2019

I might be the only person in the world that looks forward to working on weekends. For most people, weekends are a time to sleep in or to catch up on their favorite TV shows but for me, I use work as an excuse to visit some of my favorite places in Cambridge: coffee shops. […]

You Can’t Run Before You Walk

You Can’t Run Before You Walk

April 1, 2019

After completing my undergraduate studies in 2014, I began a slow-paced government job in India. As part of the job, I got a chance to explore the depth and widths of the country, with temperatures ranging from -10oC to 50oC. Overall it was an enriching experience, it taught me a lot about the practical aspects […]

A Corridor full of Giants

A Corridor full of Giants

April 1, 2019

If you told me in high school that I would go to MIT, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you. And if I had, I would have been terrified of the future. Although I certainly was not sheltered from most aspects of life, I would say that I was, to some extent, sheltered academically. I went […]