Blogs: Nuclear Science and Engineering

The Mysterious Markings on the Bridge to MIT

How the stories and history of MIT inspire me

APRIL 2018
Nuclear Science and Engineering
A bridge: “a structure carrying a pathway or roadway over a depression or obstacle” (Merriam-Webster dictionary). As a daily pedestrian across one such bridge (the Harvard bridge, spanning the Charles River to MIT) I agree that it is a structure carrying a pathway. However, I object to the use of...

An MIT Professor's Advice While Crossing a Bridge

We are all being formed into our best selves by the professors at MIT

MARCH 2018
Nuclear Science and Engineering
It is fall and the Charles River is a deep black beneath the shining man-made light of the Boston skyline. I am walking home across the Harvard bridge from MIT to my home in Boston after a day of classes and a lab. As I marvel at the beauty of the evening and my luck at being able to study my...

Auspicious Boston Snow

Celebrating the successes of my labmates in the new year

MARCH 2018
Nuclear Science and Engineering
As an old Chinese saying goes, “A timely snow promises a good harvest.” In China, it is thought, snow at the New Year always brings some good luck. In early January, I found myself thinking, what kind of good luck might a really heavy Boston snow (“near blizzard conditions,” according to The...

The Importance of After-work Beer

Building personal connections through the medium of alcohol

MARCH 2018
Nuclear Science and Engineering
I never took beer so seriously before coming to MIT. I’ve had beers, of course. But before, most of the times when I go out with my friends to have some beer, we would have something really nice to eat. In fact, I was always more into the food.  However, things are quite different here. If a person...

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...

From Professional to PhD

The costs and benefits of a substantial career change

SPRING 2017
Nuclear Science and Engineering
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 next few years…  When I started my...

Glowing Green Goo

Why we think all radioactive materials glow

SPRING 2017
Nuclear Science and Engineering
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...

Handmade Research

How building and repairing equipment with my hands has made me a better scientist

SPRING 2017
Nuclear Science and Engineering
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...

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...

From My Future Self

Advice from a fourth-semester graduate student

SPRING 2017
Nuclear Science and Engineering
Dear Alicia (circa 2015), Hi! It’s me. Or you, from the future. I’m writing you from the fourth semester of our grad school experience (the one you’re about to embark on!). I know you’re simultaneously thrilled  and terrified to start a PhD program at MIT! Let me tell you, it’s going to be one of...