Blogs

The Many Flavors of Theoretical Computer Scientists

SPRING 2017
by Daniel G.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Sometimes I tell people that I'm a theoretical computer scientist. If they haven't yet found some sort of excuse to go to the bathroom before I take my next breath, the next question is often an exasperated, "What does that even mean?"   I tell them that it's sort of like math except that instead...

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...

Don't Panic

SPRING 2017
by Katherine S.
Materials Science and Engineering
The people that get into MIT and places like it are used to being the best of the best. The people who come here are used to success. In particular, they’re used to success being easy. The easy success you may have experienced in undergrad is not going to continue at MIT. (Okay, it might continue...

It's Not About the Weather

SPRING 2017
by Patrick Y.
Materials Science and Engineering
I’m a first year graduate student in Materials Science and Engineering, or "Course 3" to anyone who’s familiar with MIT’s classification system for majors (more on this later). I’m on my way to a PhD (or as my good friend calls it – Permanent Head Damage, Piled Higher and Deeper, Pretty Huge...

The MIT School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

SPRING 2017
by Jared K.
Biological Engineering
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. No! Thank you but no. I will not be going. Your magic and professors and creatures are wondrous, sure. But your stairs?...

Waiting for Rejection, Finding Empathy

SPRING 2017
by Leilani G.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
A PhD is lonely. It’s especially lonely when all of your friends are getting married, when you are a perpetual bridesmaid watching your closest friends enter a new chapter while you are literally stuck in the same place. Most days, my life is stagnant: my code doesn’t work, paper writing is in the...

A Grad Student Guide to Free Food at MIT

SPRING 2017
by Kenny C.
Chemistry
Is there going to be food? If the answer is yes, I’m there. On my lab group’s Slack messaging channel, the description below my name is always where the food’s @. As a student at MIT, you begin to notice that nearly all events provide free food. The usual choices are bagels and pastries for...

The Key to Successful Applications

SPRING 2017
by Amanda C.
Biological Engineering
If you are applying for graduate school and fellowships – variations of this paragraph will read eerily familiar to you: The Statement of Purpose should briefly detail your reasons for applying to the proposed program at [organization]. Please describe your background and experience (academic and...

Making Whoopie (Pies)

SPRING 2017
by Kimberly D.
Microbiology
When you think of things a graduate student might do to relieve stress, baking and assembling 90 whoopie pies probably doesn't make the cut. Here’s the scene: every surface of my apartment is covered in misshapen disks of chocolate cake. I plop fluffy whipped cream onto the disks and sandwich them...

Defining a Real Sloanie

SPRING 2017
by Daniel S.
Sloan School of Management
I still remember when I was about 5 years old, it was my first day at kindergarten and I was scared to meet so many new kids. But I recall it being less scary for me than for most of them because I knew how to tie my shoes. Spending my first few weeks helping others learn how to tie their shoes was...

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...

Visiting Olde Boston

SPRING 2017
by Annie C.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
My dear family and friends, I am so delighted to learn of your intention to visit! It would be wonderful to see you again and show you around this beautiful city that I’ve come to call home. Although I’ve lived here for a few years, it often takes the special occasion of visitors to create a...

Ladies Lunch

SPRING 2017
by Nicole A.
Biology
First-year students in the biology department take classes and do rotations. Since we don't join a lab until the end of the academic year, we have a designated room — “The Pit” — where we have access to books, computers, printers, lockers, and a relaxing lounge area. During my first year in...

East Asian Food Odyssey

SPRING 2017
by Jaehwan K.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The saying, “a way to a man's heart is through his stomach," rings true to me. I inherited the joy I get from food and the importance I put on it from my late grandfather. On family trips he would pick out amazing restaurants that brought back memories of when he was young, and where the food was...

Glowing Green Goo

SPRING 2017
by Brandon S.
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

SPRING 2017
by Leigh Ann K.
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...

Modern Love & Job Hunting

SPRING 2017
by Katie M.
Technology and Policy Program
This email isn’t quite right. I think I just need to read through it one last time and tweak that description of myself at the end. Is he going to be interested in talking to me? Is this a truthful description of who I am and what I’m looking for? Ok, I just want to read through his profile one...

Graduate Women Explore a Path to Professorship

May 10, 2017
by Bianca D.
Media Arts and Sciences
Every November, I join a planning team of graduate students, postdocs, and the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education to offer a two-day workshop called Path of Professorship (PoP) for MIT’s graduate and postdoctoral women considering careers in academia... Read more at the Slice of MIT.  

Out and About at MIT

Spring 2017
by German P.
Chemical Engineering
In graduate school I explored and developed a new side of myself. And no, I’m not talking about academics or hobbies, this was far more personal. This was about coming to terms with being gay, finding a partner and telling my friends and family. I want to share this story and how the awesome people...

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...

Confessions of a Green Tea Addict

SPRING 2017
by Titan H.
Mechanical Engineering
Just as some people are addicted to coffee, I am addicted to green tea. However, I think ‘addiction’ is a too strong of a word. I do not drink green tea twice a day in my office while working on research and problem sets, like how others drink their coffee. I cannot recall the exact time when I...

Being a Historian at MIT

SPRING 2017
by Alison L.
Science, Technology, and Society
I’m a graduate student at MIT, but my experience here is not the norm. I state that with confidence because I… am a historian. As of writing this post, I’m a fourth-year doctoral candidate in an interdisciplinary PhD program shared among the History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology &...

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...

In the Art of the City

SPRING 2017
by Dongying S.
Chemical Engineering
I spent my childhood in Shanghai, the largest city in China. However, as a child, I never had the chance to explore this big city. After I graduated from high school and moved to Pasadena with my family for my undergraduate studies, I became accustomed to life in the suburbs, a place where people...

My Degree by the Numbers

SPRING 2017
by Jeffrey B.
Leaders for Global Operations
Two teams, 11 unique personalities, seven months, 14 classes. A return to New England Patriots nation after a six-year journey where I resided in three different states (and one district). An opportunity to complete two masters’ degrees in two years supported by 27 global corporations. Adding to...

From My Future Self

SPRING 2017
by Alicia E.
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...

Finding Great Escapes

SPRING 2017
by Lauren S.
Biological Engineering
As a 78 degree breeze brushed against my shoulders, I took my first sip of the local cocktail of choice, Ti Punch. I must look like such a local, ordering a Ti Punch and not a mojito, I thought to myself. The burning sensation of alcohol shot up my nose. Whoa! Punch was an understatement. Doesn’t...

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...

The Infinite Corridor

SPRING 2017
by Dishita T.
Architecture
“How do I get to MIT?” I asked. It was a sunny afternoon with a crisp fall breeze. I was only 2 weeks into my first trip to the US, but I was already missing the warmth of Mumbai air. “Well, you are already at MIT,” the lady standing near a white sculpture of human body replied. “Just walk straight...

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...

Communicating Science

SPRING 2017
by Jared K.
Biological Engineering
Survival of the fittest. A succinct, elegant tenant of life—and perhaps the most famous words to be uttered in all biology. Uttered by whom, though? You might be surprised to learn it wasn’t Charles Darwin. It was Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist. Spencer...

Returning to MIT

SPRING 2017
by Katherine S.
Materials Science and Engineering
I came back to MIT as a graduate student more in spite of my time as an undergraduate here than because of it. And I’m so glad that I did. Now, don’t get me wrong. My hesitation wasn’t because my undergraduate experience wasn’t amazing. It was. I loved my first time at MIT, and would definitely...

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...

How the Squirtle Spawn

SPRING 2017
by Kenny C.
Chemistry
Graduate student life is very busy, especially at MIT. No two days in the lab are the same. In my opinion, this is what makes science and being a student at MIT so exciting. There’s never a shortage of people making strides in their research. Some days I might be in the lab for 16 hours doing...

Online Dating and Finding an Advisor

SPRING 2017
by Patrick Y.
Materials Science and Engineering
One of the best feelings as a student is receiving that acceptance letter from a school or program you thought was nearly impossible to get into. However, for graduate school, getting in is only the first step. The next step is to find an advisor, which can be difficult. For programs that don’t...

My Road to Yelp Elite

SPRING 2017
by Irene C.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Fact: The quickest way to attract students (and usually professors) is to promise food of any kind. Whereas I should be asking, "Interpretable natural language models talk vs. a mentorship lunch for women in computer science?" ... I find myself asking, instead, "Do I want free Brazilian BBQ or free...

Fighting Depression

SPRING 2017
by Dongying S.
Chemical Engineering
“Who is she? Why does she look so sad?” It was a summer day in 2013. After lying in my bed and staring at the ceiling without doing anything for the entire day again, I finally got up. When I looked into the bathroom mirror, I saw my eyes filled with tears. What is worse, I could not recognize the...

The Case for Quantum Morality

SPRING 2017
by Daniel G.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
I should start by saying that everything that I'm about to write may or may not be completely bogus. Still, I haven't convinced myself that it's not bogus, so I guess I'll share it anyway.   I want to make the claim that our understanding of physics should influence our ethical decisions. To ease...

45 Dreams Deferred

SPRING 2017
by Amanda C.
Biological Engineering
Dressed in a freshly dry-cleaned suit for graduate school visits, I marched proudly and eagerly into my first one-on-one interview with a prospective PI. “Hi, I’m Amanda!” “Nice to meet you, I’m Rob. Are you good at failing?” “What do you mean?” I stared blankly, taken aback by his bluntness. He...

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...

Overheard at MIT

SPRING 2017
by Daniel S.
Sloan School of Management
What if you could be a fly on the wall in the place where some of the most important things were invented? Arriving to MIT Sloan as an MBA student, I was determined to be involved as much as I could in the MIT ecosystem and the Boston entrepreneurship scene. This enabled me to hear some magnificent...

Winter Survival Guide from a Tropical Islander

SPRING 2017
by Nicole A.
Biology
I grew up in Puerto Rico (PR), where the average temperature is about 85 degrees Fahrenheit in “winter” time. Despite not knowing what winter meant in New England, I decided to come to MIT for graduate school. I knew that it would be an adjustment, and a few things caught me by surprise, but if I...

Eat Your Vegetables

SPRING 2017
by Kimberly D.
Microbiology
I’ve made a HUGE mistake… It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’m standing in my kitchen staring at a pile of vegetables meant to feed a family of 5. One problem: I’m a family of one. How will I eat all of this spinach? Is it even healthy to eat this many beets? This one looks like a UFO. It’s the first...

Community Health

SPRING 2017
by Greg S.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
This past October my wife lost a family member—someone who was very close to both of us. We quickly jumped on the first plane to California. I hastily composed an email to my advisor, letting him know that I would have to leave town for a few weeks. His message back was succinct—short enough to be...

Why Choose MIT?

SPRING 2017
by Annie C.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
When asked the entitled question ("Why Choose MIT?"), especially by prospective students whom I haven’t gotten to know well personally, I’m often at loss as to how to respond. The follow-up question that I’ve always secretly wanted to ask back is this: When your initial reasons for going to MIT are...

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...

Plan to Feel Unprepared

SPRING 2017
by Katie M.
Technology and Policy Program
There are few things more intimidating than standing in front of an MIT classroom after your very first semester, preparing to lecture on topics you just finished learning about. I was in this situation during my first IAP (Independent Activities Period). I had been dreading the thought of teaching...

Reaching the Summit

SPRING 2017
by Leigh Ann K.
Nuclear Science and Engineering
I saw the police car just a little too late. I looked at the speedometer, and unlike the rest of the morning when I’d been sticking to the speed limit, I’d somehow drifted up to over 80 mph. Sally, my friend and hiking buddy, murmurs, “Oh no,” as she sees the red and blue lights come on. I was...

Winter Is Coming

SPRING 2017
by Brandon S.
Nuclear Science and Engineering
"California native picks MIT for the beautiful Boston weather.” This is a headline that you will never see in an MIT advertising brochure. Whenever I go back home to visit family in sunny SoCal, the most common reaction I get from people when I tell them I go to school here is, “Ooooh, so you live...

So What Do YOU Think?

SPRING 2017
by Shaheen T.
System Design and Management
The 10-day orientation boot camp for my degree program was over. My future classmates and I were wrapping up the camp with a barbeque party on the MIT sailing pavilion alongside the beautiful Charles River on a windy evening. The sight was magnificent – in the west I could see the sunset amid the...

Did You Walk from Korea?

SPRING 2017
by Jaehwan K.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Arriving in from the sweltering heat of a typical Korean summer, the crisp cool weather and matching blue sky which Boston greeted me with was the perfect weather for my start as a new graduate student. And as a graduate student should be, I decided to be frugal and take the T (subway of the...

To MIT with Love

SPRING 2017
by Dishita T.
Architecture
“… you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future…” It was a rainy monsoon evening of August, almost a year after my first visit as a tourist to MIT. I had decided to finally go meet (read as: go on blind date) with the guy chosen by my parents. In India, turning 26 is a...

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...

From Professional to PhD

SPRING 2017
by Patrick W.
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...

My Recipe for Getting In

SPRING 2017
by Lauren S.
Biological Engineering
I had never considered a PhD until late in my undergraduate degree. Most students in my program were either grabbing one-year master's degrees or becoming entry-level grunts at consumer goods or biomedical device companies. I remember a career fair where I talked to a recent graduate who was...

Why Study Anything but Engineering?

SPRING 2017
by Jeff B.
Leaders for Global Operations
Why study anything BUT engineering at MIT? In my case, why study Supply Chain Management and Operations? MIT is Infinite MIT offers cutting-edge research opportunities and access to infinite resources and some of the world’s best professors. For instance, the university has one of three domestic...

How Can I Keep from Singing?

SPRING 2017
by German P.
Chemical Engineering
For me there is nothing more sublime than sharing one’s voice with fellow singers and creating beautiful chords and melodies. Singing has been among my favorite activities to take my mind off engineering and sequential thinking, and to explore my emotional and creative sides. I have been singing...

New Year's (Un)Resolutions

SPRING 2017
by Bianca D.
Media Arts and Sciences
In 2016, I made 18 New Year's resolutions (all of which I considered to be achievable. No comment here on how well I did with that particular challenge). For 2017, I’m sticking with five. Perhaps, though, they are better represented as (un)resolutions, as my core principle for this year is doing...

Not Just a Grad Student

SPRING 2017
by Alicia E.
Nuclear Science and Engineering
From the day I moved to MIT, I worried about whether I belonged here. Was I smart enough? Would I be able to handle the intense, rigorous workload? Would I be able to balance my work with my life, and take care of my physical, mental, and emotional health? Why did my department’s admissions...

Where Are All the Women?

SPRING 2017
by Irene C.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
This may sound crazy, but for a brief time, I pictured MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department as only women. Yes, this happened. Due to a weirdly warped golden recall of MIT’s Visit Weekend, I somehow only remember the Saturday Pancake Breakfast for women in EECS: A...