Blogs: Staying Sane

PhD Student vs. PhD Candidate

SPRING 2017
by Alison L.
Science, Technology, and Society
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...

5 Ways to Enrich Your Life in Grad School

SPRING 2017
by Sarah B.
Biology
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...

Being a Muslim Woman at MIT

SPRING 2017
by Titan H.
Mechanical Engineering
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...

Get Beyond the Bubble

SPRING 2017
by Lee W.
Mechanical Engineering
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...

Rebooting Your PhD (Is Not the End of the World)

SPRING 2017
by Sarah B.
Biology
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...

How I Learned to Drink from a Firehose

SPRING 2017
by Shaheen T.
System Design and Management
Only three weeks into my time at MIT, I was so busy that I was barely getting any sleep. I slept with my laptop and dorm room lights on; the sole reason to catch some sleep was to wake up and get going on things for the next day. I grabbed food for survival at odd times, and only when I was not...

Can You Get a PhD Without an Advisor?

SPRING 2017
by Patrick W.
Nuclear Science and Engineering
I applied to MIT to study nuclear power policy with three top experts in the field. Any of them would be great advisor, so I decided to come to MIT. In the six months between when I visited campus and the start of classes, the first professor retired, the second was promoted out of the department...

An Unexpected Mentor

SPRING 2017
by Bianca D.
Media Arts and Sciences
“You win some, you lose some. Well… you lose most,” Sunny said, reacting to our latest unsuccessful experiment. We frown at the lab bench briefly before laughing at the silliness of the situation. Sunny shrugs, standing by his statement and commenting on the nature of grad school as he reminds me...

Confronting AlphaGo

SPRING 2017
by Lee W.
Mechanical Engineering
In March 2016, world champion Go player Lee Sedol was defeated by the computer program AlphaGo in a five-game match. As someone who doesn’t play Go, follow professional Go, or study computer science, this shouldn't have been a big...

Human Touch

SPRING 2017
by Leilani G.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
As native Californian, choosing to attend MIT came as a shock to my family. When I moved to Boston, they started placing bets on whether I would stay past the first blizzard, and how long I would last in general. Luckily for me, I moved to the east coast during one of the tamest Boston winters. For...