Blogs: Why I Came

Advising Advice

What should you look for when choosing an advisor?

MAY 2019
Aeronautics and Astronautics
At the end of my second year at MIT, I chose to switch to a different advisor, based on our overlapping interests in a specific research area. This turned out to be a great decision, but for many reasons that I hadn’t even remotely thought about when I made the choice. I’m very conscious now that I...

Gambling with Degrees

Coming to MIT with a master’s

APR 2019
Nuclear Science and Engineering
How many master’s degrees is too many? It’s not a very common problem to have. Yet for some of us that have already completed a couple years of postgraduate education before coming to MIT, the question comes up. I must admit I hadn’t looked much at the course requirements for a PhD before applying...

You Got NSF, Now What?

How NSF can change grad school selection

APR 2019
Chemical Engineering
It's early April. You wake up and refresh the emails on your phone. There is an email from your professor congratulating you on getting the NSF, a colloquial expression for getting into the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. You...

A Corridor full of Giants

My transition from a tiny college to MIT

APR 2019
If you told me in high school that I would go to MIT, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you. And if I had, I would have been terrified of the future. Although I certainly was not sheltered from most aspects of life, I would say that I was, to some extent, sheltered academically. I went to a...

My First Autopsy

The importance of seeing the reality of death

MAR 2019
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
As the autopsy technician split the cadaver’s chest open with a scalpel, a part of my identity that I had wrestled with since my undergrad finally settled into focus. I have absolutely no desire to become a doctor. This has not always been the case. Like many of my peers, I had started my...

How can Philosophy Help Policy?

How I stepped outside my comfort zone and attended courses outside my research area

MAR 2019
Urban Studies and Planning
Before coming to MIT, I had no idea how much courses outside my field could influence my research and shape my intellectual beliefs. I had earned a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with a minor in public policy. I had also worked with the...

Perfection versus Persistence

How I got into grad school

MAR 2019
Aeronautics and Astronautics
A skinny envelope containing a fat “No”: my first rejection. I’d been confident of my eventual acceptance to Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College, and my 17-year-old ego winced at the surprise. “Dear Brandon,” the letter started. “Many qualified applicants this year … Very strong accomplishments...

Weighted Decision Matrices and the Happiness Question

How I decided to come to MIT

MAR 2019
Mechanical Engineering
Deciding to pursue a Ph.D. and finding appropriate programs was straightforward for me; choosing where to go was much more tortuous. Even before I had received any acceptance letters, I fretted over the question: “How will I choose?”. Should I choose the most prestigious school? The cheapest city,...

The Right Choice for the Wrong Reasons

Why I shouldn’t have chosen MIT, and why I’m glad I did

MAR 2019
“There’s no wrong choice.” This was an oft-stated sentence from my friends and family when I was deciding between graduate programs. And okay, sure, when you have the option to attend two wonderful institutions for graduate school, there is no “wrong” answer. But there is often a “better” answer....

Celebrating Science Outside the Lab

From teaching a class on anything to mentoring a summer student project

NOV 2018
Materials Science and Engineering
The cult of contagious scientific curiosity is something I’ve totally loved about MIT ever since I’ve stepped on campus as a starry-eyed prospective undergrad during Campus Preview Weekend (CPW). My CPW host welcomed me into her living space (a co-ed co-op living group called ‘pika’) and impromptu...