Blogs: Staying Sane

Saying Goodbye

The sadness and pride of bidding farewell to a long-time collaborator and friend

September 2017
Nuclear Science and Engineering
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...

Evolution of the MIT Grad Blog

The blog helped her regain a voice, and she didn't want it to end

September 2017
Biological Engineering
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...

PhD Student vs. PhD Candidate

How I use gentle, digital nudges to stay current in the post-exams world

SPRING 2017
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...

Living the Journey

Five ways to enrich your life in grad school

SPRING 2017
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

Why I choose to wear a hijab and how it has affected my graduate school experience

SPRING 2017
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

The importance of interacting with non-MIT people during graduate school

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

Switching labs partway through your graduate studies

SPRING 2017
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

Learning to filter and focus to prioritize my learning needs

SPRING 2017
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?

How I learned to take charge of my education and ask questions of the world

SPRING 2017
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

The value of informal networking and human connections

SPRING 2017
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...