Blogs: Fear and Failure


Unlearning what I thought I knew about PhDs and MIT

Jan 2021
Biological Engineering
“Wait up for me!” I shouted after my father as I scrambled to keep up with him. At 6 years old, I didn’t really fit in with the college students dotting the quad under the hot summer sun, but I also didn’t really care. My dad, a professor of economics, was letting me tag along as he went about his...

My advisor left MIT during my PhD

Making difficult decisions with incomplete information

Dec 2020
Biological Engineering
It was a chilly November morning in 2014, and two months into my second year at MIT. My PhD advisor called for an all-hands group meeting with required attendance. We crammed into a tiny conference room: all 15 of us, whose lives were about to be turned upside-down. On the screen, my advisor...

To the Mom applying to Grad School:

How Motherhood led me to MIT

Dec 2020
Supply Chain Management
"Can't believe you got it done with children! Good for you!"  an old friend told me. I received similar remarks from other people as they learned that I had applied, enrolled and now attend graduate school with two young toddlers; they applaud my ability to do so DESPITE motherhood. However, as I...

Beer in Class—but Peers Afar

Navigating the Freedom and Isolation of Virtual MIT

Oct 2020
Supply Chain Management
I sat in class, the professor again repeating the technique we were expected to learn but about which I was still woefully confused.  I was immediately struck with self-doubt.  I put my head down on the desk and started to cry. The small upside was that at least no one could see my meltdown. ...

The Infinite Rotation

After six failed lab rotations, one last chance to find a home

Aug 2020
Computational and Systems Biology
Switching labs is, optimally, disruptive. On September 3, 2019, the very beginning of my second year at MIT, my PhD program director called me into his office to explain that I needed to switch labs because one of my co-advisors was a research fellow, not a tenure-track professor, and the other...

Making the switch

My journey of changing labs

July 2020
A year and a half into my master’s program, I decided to change labs. This may not sound as terrifying, but it means jumping into an ocean of uncertainty. Unlike many PhD programs at MIT, my master’s program doesn’t have the luxury of lab rotations with secure funding from the department. This...

So… you were accidentally admitted to MIT

Here’s how to fool everyone for five years

July 2020
Biological Engineering
I’m going to let you in on a secret: I’m a total imposter. I was admitted to MIT even though I’m not nearly as smart, driven, or successful as any of my peers. I can only tell you this now because I’ve passed my qualifying exams, so they can’t kick me out now. Although I can’t be sure, I believe...

Ask and you shall receive

How grad school put me on a healthier path

Jun 2020
Biological Engineering
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, I could see...

Holidazed and Confused

A guide to MIT’s institutional resources

Jun 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...

My Journey Home

How I Came to Love Cambridge

Jun 2020
Mechanical Engineering
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....