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Every Scientist is a Sherlock Holmes

Every Scientist is a Sherlock Holmes

March 9, 2018

This summer I voluntarily stayed up all night for about nine days to stare at some computer screens and push some buttons. Voluntarily, I became a true night dweller by waking up at 7pm and going to bed at 8am. I wasn’t practicing some weird voodoo sleeping schedule or avoiding the sunlight. I was working […]

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 […]

Finding My Home

Finding My Home

March 9, 2018

“70 Pacific Street. I guess this is it,” my dad declared as we pulled the minivan to the front entrance. The nine-story brick building loomed over us like Mount Everest. I could feel my heart beat as I walked to the front door, my parents not far behind. A banner with “Sidney Pacific” on the […]

Out of the lab, into the Rice Paddy

Out of the lab, into the Rice Paddy

January 29, 2018

I’ll pose this question to the MIT and scientific community: how would you identify and separate healthy rice grains from empty or insect-damaged grains to feed to the chickens? As MIT graduate students, we’d probably over-engineer this. Is there some protein in the healthy grain I can image for? I’m a mass spectrometrist, so I’d […]

Have something to say or share? Then blog about it!

Have something to say or share? Then blog about it!

December 4, 2017

Hi MIT Grads! The MIT Graduate Admissions Blog is excited to announce its second IAP workshop on blog writing. In brief, Attend a 3-day blogging workshop: January 16, 18, and 23 from 9-11am Attendance at all sessions is expected Write two blog pieces Earn $200 upon completion of posts Continue writing for the blog and […]

Girls just wanna have FUNding

Girls just wanna have FUNding

November 13, 2017

Joining thousands of other activists at the March for Science last spring, I proudly held my handcrafted, glittery poster in the air. “Girls just wanna have FUNding,” it said. Now, I realize I should have been more specific: “Girls just wanna have FUNding­–for their research, but also for themselves.” A poster large enough to accommodate […]

Mentee vs. Minion

Mentee vs. Minion

October 24, 2017

I know from personal experience how much an undergraduate research experience can shape your future.   At the end of my junior year in undergrad at Swarthmore College, I was struggling with the idea of what to do after college and how my major (physics, at the time) would help me achieve that. That summer, […]

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

October 24, 2017

This week, I got to celebrate Brandon’s defense. For four years we worked together, studying for quals, desperately rebuilding accelerators, taking data for hours … and now he is done. I helped him prepare for his defense, sat in the front row, and even got nervous as he started. It hits me now that as […]

We Believe in Coffee

We Believe in Coffee

October 24, 2017

How do you take it? Just black? Add almond milk? Maybe a cold brew (but definitely not iced coffee, that’s too acidic)? How about a pour-over (but not a French press, you hate the grit)? Let’s get a little fancier. How about a flat white (but please not a latte—you want those espresso notes to […]

The Seven Deadly Sins of Conferences

The Seven Deadly Sins of Conferences

October 24, 2017

Past the construction site, across the deserted parking lot, and through the shrubbery, I finally arrived at the front entrance of Northeastern University for my first academic conference. Over the next two days, with 270 brilliant minds, I learned a lot about machine learning and healthcare. More importantly, however, I discovered how to make the […]

Evolution of the MIT Grad Blog

Evolution of the MIT Grad Blog

October 24, 2017

Understanding what graduate student life is like at MIT is challenging for an outsider. Before I arrived, I had preconceived notions about what the student body would be like: ultra-nerdy kids that participated in hackathons on the weekend and probably couldn’t chug a beer. While admittedly some of these stereotypes are true, I now embody […]

PhD Student vs. PhD Candidate

PhD Student vs. PhD Candidate

July 6, 2017

Do you know the difference between a PhD student and a Ph.D. candidate? A candidate is someone who has fulfilled all the requirements for the degree except the dissertation. I’m a historian (see my earlier post about being a humanist at MIT), so my path to candidacy differs a bit from other doctoral tracks at […]

My Recipe for Getting In

My Recipe for Getting In

July 5, 2017

I had never considered a PhD until late in my undergraduate degree. Most students in my program were either grabbing one-year master’s degrees or becoming entry-level grunts at consumer goods or biomedical device companies. I remember a career fair where I talked to a recent graduate who was working as an entry-level engineer at Proctor […]

The Key to Successful Applications

The Key to Successful Applications

July 4, 2017

If you are applying for graduate school and fellowships – variations of this paragraph will read eerily familiar to you: The Statement of Purpose should briefly detail your reasons for applying to the proposed program at [organization]. Please describe your background and experience (academic and extracurricular), which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your […]

From Professional to PhD

From Professional to PhD

July 3, 2017

A 70 percent cut in pay — that’s what my next career move would cost me. And yet it was an opportunity I knew I couldn’t pass up, and it was possibly the best thing I could for my career. Still, a 70% pay cut would definitely change my idea of a vacation for the […]

Living the Journey

Living the Journey

July 2, 2017

In undergrad, I lost the journey for the destination. I came to college with blinders on. I was determined to focus 100% of my energy on academics and not let anything distract me from good grades. And, for better or worse, that is exactly what happened.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, I fell naturally onto the graduate school […]

Being a Muslim Woman at MIT

Being a Muslim Woman at MIT

June 30, 2017

On a sunny day last fall, I wanted to try cooking a typical Indonesian food called ‘rendang,’ a delicious spicy beef curry.  Figure 1. Rendang is best served with warm jasmine rice, shrimp crackers, and fresh cucumber. I left my apartment to go grocery shopping while catching Pokemon at the same time. Then, suddenly, a […]

Where Are All the Women?

Where Are All the Women?

May 29, 2017

This may sound crazy, but for a brief time, I pictured MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department as only women. Yes, this happened. Due to a weirdly warped golden recall of MIT’s Visit Weekend, I somehow only remember the Saturday Pancake Breakfast for women in EECS: A hundred women crammed in a conference […]

The Many Flavors of Theoretical Computer Scientists

The Many Flavors of Theoretical Computer Scientists

May 28, 2017

Sometimes I tell people that I’m a theoretical computer scientist. If they haven’t yet found some sort of excuse to go to the bathroom before I take my next breath, the next question is often an exasperated, “What does that even mean?”   I tell them that it’s sort of like math except that instead […]

Get Beyond the Bubble

Get Beyond the Bubble

May 27, 2017

Last Saturday night I was in my living room surrounded by a dozen people, but there was only one topic of conversation: the joys and sorrows of working at a hospital. My girlfriend Jaimie is a psychiatry resident, and we had invited her co-residents over for dinner. Doctor-talk monopolizing the night wasn’t a surprise; I’ve come […]

Don’t Panic

Don’t Panic

May 26, 2017

The people that get into MIT and places like it are used to being the best of the best. The people who come here are used to success. In particular, they’re used to success being easy. The easy success you may have experienced in undergrad is not going to continue at MIT. (Okay, it might […]

It’s Not About the Weather

It’s Not About the Weather

May 25, 2017

I’m a first year graduate student in Materials Science and Engineering, or “Course 3” to anyone who’s familiar with MIT’s classification system for majors (more on this later). I’m on my way to a PhD (or as my good friend calls it – Permanent Head Damage, Piled Higher and Deeper, Pretty Huge Diploma, etc.). For […]

The MIT School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

The MIT School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

May 24, 2017

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. No! Thank you but no. I will not be going. Your magic and professors and creatures are wondrous, sure. But your stairs? They move. See, Hogwarts, I was born without a sense of direction. To me you’re […]

Waiting for Rejection, Finding Empathy

Waiting for Rejection, Finding Empathy

May 23, 2017

A PhD is lonely. It’s especially lonely when all of your friends are getting married, when you are a perpetual bridesmaid watching your closest friends enter a new chapter while you are literally stuck in the same place. Most days, my life is stagnant: my code doesn’t work, paper writing is in the same place, […]

Always Where the Food’s At

Always Where the Food’s At

May 22, 2017

Is there going to be food? If the answer is yes, I’m there. On my lab group’s Slack messaging channel, the description below my name is always where the food’s @. As a student at MIT, you begin to notice that nearly all events provide free food. The usual choices are bagels and pastries for […]

Making Whoopie (Pies)

Making Whoopie (Pies)

May 20, 2017

When you think of things a graduate student might do to relieve stress, baking and assembling 90 whoopie pies probably doesn’t make the cut. Here’s the scene: every surface of my apartment is covered in misshapen disks of chocolate cake. I plop fluffy whipped cream onto the disks and sandwich them together—careful to not let […]

Defining a Real Sloanie

Defining a Real Sloanie

May 19, 2017

I still remember when I was about 5 years old, it was my first day at kindergarten and I was scared to meet so many new kids. But I recall it being less scary for me than for most of them because I knew how to tie my shoes. Spending my first few weeks helping […]

Rebooting Your PhD

Rebooting Your PhD

May 18, 2017

In July of 2013, I was abruptly told to leave lab. No warning, no chance to explain myself. The fact is, a sizable fraction of students do end up changing labs. Sometimes the cause is relatively benign — a professor gets a job offer elsewhere, or you realize you don’t like working with mice after […]

Visiting Olde Boston

Visiting Olde Boston

May 17, 2017

My dear family and friends, I am so delighted to learn of your intention to visit! It would be wonderful to see you again and show you around this beautiful city that I’ve come to call home. Although I’ve lived here for a few years, it often takes the special occasion of visitors to create […]

Ladies Lunch

Ladies Lunch

May 16, 2017

First-year students in the biology department take classes and do rotations. Since we don’t join a lab until the end of the academic year, we have a designated room — “The Pit” — where we have access to books, computers, printers, lockers, and a relaxing lounge area. During my first year in graduate school, The Pit […]

East Asian Food Odyssey

East Asian Food Odyssey

May 15, 2017

The saying, “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” rings true to me. I inherited the joy I get from food and the importance I put on it from my late grandfather. On family trips he would pick out amazing restaurants that brought back memories of when he was young, and where […]

Glowing Green Goo

Glowing Green Goo

May 14, 2017

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “radioactive”? For many people, this word conjures up images of ominously glowing material. In the opening credits to The Simpsons, a running gag is Homer’s mishandling of a glowing green bar of radioactive material. As someone who works with a fair bit […]

Handmade Research

Handmade Research

May 13, 2017

When I first took my parents to my lab, my father was appalled. “This place is worse than my shop.” To truly understand this insult, consider that my father is a farmer who works in a 40-year-old shop with concrete floors and metal walls. Seed is sometimes stored in the back, the machining equipment is […]