Search

Addir

Addir

April 13, 2018

Every Monday night, I shuffle down Mass Ave, past the towering columns of MIT’s entrance to a small unassuming building almost directly across the street. Inside I meet with a group of about ten students. We continue our discussion of something that can make people uncomfortable, something that isn’t commonly associated with MIT: religion. We […]

Time Travel

Time Travel

April 13, 2018

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen all at once. -Albert Einstein Time passes strangely in graduate school. Many days I enter a flow state where I’m completely absorbed in my task. First I am setting up an experiment or a stack of papers to read. Light, streaming in from the window, […]

Hurricane María’s landfall in Cambridge

Hurricane María’s landfall in Cambridge

April 13, 2018

Moving to a new place after spending a whole life on a small island in the Caribbean was very daunting. My expectations as a first-year graduate student in New England were not out of the ordinary. I would have to adjust to a different culture, prepare for different weather (far colder than anything I had […]

An MIT Professor’s Advice While Crossing a Bridge

An MIT Professor’s Advice While Crossing a Bridge

April 4, 2018

It is fall and the Charles River is a deep black beneath the shining man-made light of the Boston skyline. I am walking home across the Harvard bridge from MIT to my home in Boston after a day of classes and a lab. As I marvel at the beauty of the evening and my luck […]

My Life as a GRT/Two Time Scootah Hockey World Champion

My Life as a GRT/Two Time Scootah Hockey World Champion

April 4, 2018

The 2017 Scootah Hockey World Championship was certainly a nail-biter. Each year, the tournament is hosted by MIT undergraduate dorm Simmons Hall. For the past two years, B-Towah (i.e. 8th, 9th, and 10th floors of B-Tower in Simmons) has scooted away with the trophy (check out the 2017 exciting final minute here.) Ten teams of […]

The Art of Giving Things Up

The Art of Giving Things Up

April 4, 2018

I’m not sure if I would be a graduate student at MIT if I had kept playing the double bass. I’ve had many identities including son, brother, student, runner, and musician, but one of the challenges of becoming a scientist is that research becomes your sole identity. As a professor of biology once told a […]

Mugshots

Mugshots

April 4, 2018

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that every graduate student has an item they become a collector of, squirreling away specimens like it will keep them warm through the Bostonian winters. One of my friends has filled two drawers in his search for the perfect pen; another has acquired enough candles to light a cathedral. I […]

According to Plan

According to Plan

April 4, 2018

Many people I talk to at MIT have high expectations for their first year. They’ll ace their classes, breeze through teaching, and have two publications by the time they are a second-year student. A sixth-year student I met, however, summed up reality: “If there’s one thing I learned in grad school, it’s that things never […]

Eating and Socializing on a Budget in Cambridge

Eating and Socializing on a Budget in Cambridge

April 4, 2018

Ok, so you’re in a restaurant looking at a menu. The walls are unrefined brick or cement with steel beams, the ceiling has an old warehouse look, the lighting is dim, there are subway tiles on the floor and Edison style lightbulbs. The menu has fancy cocktails and dishes like pork belly, brussel sprouts, and […]

Home

Home

April 4, 2018

MIT is my home. There is no other way to say it. Over the years (let’s just say I’ve been here awhile), this place has gradually morphed from a place of discovery to a place of learning to a place of belonging. There is a daily routine that sets in after a while; in my […]

Inaccurate Prior Probabilities

Inaccurate Prior Probabilities

April 4, 2018

The day after I committed to MIT for my PhD, a wave of panic set over me. I felt like I was about to repeat a disaster. I’d tried moving to a new city before and things hadn’t worked out well, yet here I was doing it all over again. I’ve been a west coaster […]

Teaching as a Graduate Student

Teaching as a Graduate Student

April 4, 2018

When I signed up to be a teaching assistant for MIT’s performance engineering course (6.172) in Fall 2017, multiple people warned me about how much work it would be. Their advice made me nervous about taking on the responsibility, but I had TA’d three times as an undergrad, so I thought I was a veteran. […]

Option B

Option B

April 4, 2018

On November 1st, 2017, I lost my father. He was one of my best friends. And now, instead of my best friend, all I have left is memories and emotions.   My father died of an unexpected heart attack in my hometown of Izmir, Turkey at the age of 57. The two weeks that followed […]

From Neurons to Language

From Neurons to Language

March 29, 2018

When I was waitlisted for MIT undergraduate admissions, I put together a statement that would serve as an addendum to my application. It included a Venn diagram that depicted my scientific interests at the time.  Not a single person from the waitlist was accepted that year, but little did I know that four years later […]

Auspicious Boston Snow

Auspicious Boston Snow

March 29, 2018

As an old Chinese saying goes, “A timely snow promises a good harvest.” In China, it is thought, snow at the New Year always brings some good luck. In early January, I found myself thinking, what kind of good luck might a really heavy Boston snow (“near blizzard conditions,” according to The National Weather Service) […]

The Duality of a Dual Program

The Duality of a Dual Program

March 29, 2018

Since the dawn of human civilization, we have been fascinated with duality: good and evil, yin and yang, darkness and light. (Oh yeah, light — the epitome of duality in a scientific context!) It’s kind of funny that I am writing this post in January, a month named after Janus who is the god of […]

To stay in academia or not, that is the question

To stay in academia or not, that is the question

March 28, 2018

Should I stay in academia or not after I graduate? It’s a question that most PhD students find themselves asking at some point in their graduate careers. Some have unequivocal answers from the beginning, while others struggle with the decision even towards the end of their studies. Some just don’t want to think about it […]

PhD and a Baby

PhD and a Baby

March 28, 2018

I wasn’t married when I got to MIT, but I had a boyfriend named Randy who moved up to Boston with me. Two years in, we discover that it is, in fact, possible to simultaneously plan a wedding and write a master’s thesis! Two years after that? I’m sitting uncomfortably in a floppy hospital gown […]

Drawing the Lines of Work-Life Balance

Drawing the Lines of Work-Life Balance

March 28, 2018

Most mornings, I don’t set an alarm. As a student in cognitive science, when I’m not working with participants, almost all of my work is done on the computer and can be done from anywhere at any time. This is both a blessing and a curse, but it translates to the fact that I am […]

Remember That Undergraduate Internship?

Remember That Undergraduate Internship?

March 28, 2018

I did not know I was considering graduate school until the beginning of my senior year. During undergrad, I felt like a squirrel in a nut factory jumping at every opportunity that came my way. In the summer of my sophomore year, I began working for a traditional chemical engineering company called Air Products and […]

Defense of the Ancients

Defense of the Ancients

March 28, 2018

After losing an 82 minute Dota2 match, maybe it is time for me to step back and write a brief, informative post about competitive video gaming and how it helps to relax. Wait, what is Dota2 – other than being the sequel or re-creation of the Defense of the Ancients (DotA)? For non-gamers: Dota2 consists […]

Are You Alive Still?

Are You Alive Still?

March 28, 2018

“Are you alive still?” the text read. My wife Alex woke up in a panic. 4:41 AM and the bed was still empty next to her. My team and I had been working in the urban design studio on our final proposals for a development in Union Square since 9 AM the morning before. I […]

Impostor Syndrome vs. the Scientific Method

Impostor Syndrome vs. the Scientific Method

March 25, 2018

I received my acceptance letter to MIT a few days after the 2017 Oscars – shortly after a human error led to the wrong film being announced as Best Picture winner live on national television.   The mix-up loomed large in my mind.   As I slowly read the email informing me that I had been […]

What Do I Do with My Spare Change?

What Do I Do with My Spare Change?

March 25, 2018

I am now at that age (25!) where I have become too old not A) to be fully aware of my financial situation and its grim reality, and B) to realize that I need to begin investing what I have if I plan on retiring. Now this thought scares me terribly, as I’m sure it […]

Dressing Down for Success

Dressing Down for Success

March 24, 2018

What you need to know about me: I am a 25 year old white female, 5’5”, with long legs and a burst of tangled brown curly hair. I have more Lululemon leggings than pairs of jeans, and I prefer wine to beer. I listen to NPR and the Chainsmokers, and love any season of the […]

Sticky Little Scientists

Sticky Little Scientists

March 24, 2018

The excited squeals of a young child as she bursts into a new place designed just for her to explore can be a magical thing to witness; but multiply that excitement and noise (and sticky hands) by a few hundred and you have a typical Sunday at the Boston Children’s Museum. As a second year […]

Behind on the race towards education

Behind on the race towards education

March 24, 2018

Skimming through current MIT undergraduates’ CVs (for potential UROPs), I realized I probably wouldn’t have gotten into MIT for an undergraduate degree. There wasn’t really anything exciting about me five years ago. Back home in Puerto Rico, competitiveness to get into college isn’t really a thing. At some point during high school, those of us […]

Being very far away…

Being very far away…

March 24, 2018

Dear Friend, I am going to tell you a very personal story that has changed my perspective towards the many challenges that become default as you move forward as an MIT Ph.D. student. It was a Tuesday evening, and I was in the Z-center, the athletic facility at MIT. I was standing on the second […]

Myths Worth Busting to Stay Sane in Grad School

Myths Worth Busting to Stay Sane in Grad School

March 23, 2018

Caricatures by Maria G. (Zoya’s sister) As we approach the middle of the second semester and inch on all-fours towards the summer, we look back at what we’ve gained and cultivated since the year began, and we inevitably start to make resolutions to do things bigger, better, and faster before the academic year runs out […]

An Open Letter to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

An Open Letter to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

March 23, 2018

Dear Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, When we first met, I was a chubby fifteen-year-old kid. I had no real experience with martial arts, nor any natural physical ability I could call “athleticism.” You first captured my imagination through reruns of the Ultimate Fighting Championship that aired late night on Spike. You drew me in with a promise […]

Let’s Break Down Echo Chambers

Let’s Break Down Echo Chambers

March 22, 2018

“Luckily, we live in a blue, blue state. I mean, if you don’t like living in a blue state… well, too bad.” I shivered. I was at a mandatory ethics training session held here, at MIT. We had just finished talking about inclusion and acceptance. And yet our instructor demonstrated the very opposite of the […]

Undercover Art

Undercover Art

March 15, 2018

Before coming to MIT, I had this idea in my head that it was a super tech focused, STEM-driven institution. And it is, in many ways. But thinking of it that way scared me a little, because despite being a physics major in undergrad and a mechanical engineering major now that I’m in graduate school, […]

Be Wrong

Be Wrong

March 9, 2018

When I was in college I smacked my head on the same tree branch three times within a single month. A year later, during a particularly hectic period, two glass doors each acquired a decent print of my face. I am delighted to report that my head has not come into contact with a tree […]

Ayşe, Ali, and Oya

Ayşe, Ali, and Oya

March 9, 2018

After seventeen years of being a student at three different schools, in three different countries. I have come to the resounding conclusion that students can more or less be placed into three categories based on how they procrastinate: the always-overachiever, the workaholic socialite, and the surprisingly competent bare-minimalist.    While being taught to read and […]

Craving a Lemon Poppyseed Muffin

Craving a Lemon Poppyseed Muffin

March 9, 2018

Five years ago, I ate a red velvet muffin every morning for about six weeks. It was the first semester of my freshman year, and I enjoyed the community of regulars that came with this breakfast ritual. The muffins were always these amorphous, half-goo red masses with too much sugar and never enough love. You […]

Wow, You’re at MIT! You Must be a Genius!

Wow, You’re at MIT! You Must be a Genius!

March 9, 2018

“Wow, you’re at MIT? You must be a genius!” Um. Not sure how to answer that. Look down at my shoes. Nervous laugh. “Uh, thanks?” The random passerby who saw my MIT shirt and just had to comment on my presumed brilliance seems satisfied with my response. Perhaps the “awkward genius” trope played in my […]