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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

A flash of brilliance and answers to some questions by Mollie B. '06

Necessity is the mother of invention.

So I was making meatballs yesterday in my favorite apron (I made the meatballs, and Adam made the spaghetti and garlic bread — good deal, I think!). I’ve made meatballs twice before this summer, and I always have problems with cooking them evenly on all sides. It’s difficult to brown the meatballs evenly in the skillet, so I end up burning parts so I can cook the meat all the way through (being a biologist, E. coli make me nervous)… bad news. So after making a few and having the same problem, I had a Flash of Genius.


I shaped the meat into a cube and stuck it in the pan. Then I shaped the next one and stuck it in the pan, then rotated the first one to a second face. Since I make the meatcubes in batches of six, the first cube was browned on all sides by the time I put in the last one… and since I’m (slightly) OCD, I lined them up in the order I put them into the pan. Voila — perfectly cooked meatcubes. I amaze even myself sometimes.

And now for some answers —

Archana wrote: “hello. My name is Archana and i have always wanted to attend MIT. I would like to take up medicine,perfabely in the area of pedatrics and i would like to know if and when i apply to MIT doea MIT provide programs for me to take up medicine and hopefully apply to medical school”

Definitely! A lot of people at MIT (about 10%, I’ve heard!) consider themselves to be on a premedical track. Many of them are biology majors, although I know of a few chemistry majors, chemical engineering majors, physics majors, brain/cognitive science majors, and others who are also planning to apply to medical school. Medical schools don’t really care what you major in as an undergraduate, so long as you take the premed requirements (most of which you’d already take as MIT requirements). About 82% of MIT undergrads who apply to medical school are accepted somewhere (data can be found here. Hope that helps!

Go wrote: “Hi, Dr.Mollie. [Editorial note: Heh.] If you would be so kind, would you please answer my questions? How many biology classes did you take for a semester? For overall, how many credits did you take for a semester? I heard some people dropped out some classes at the end of a semester because they took too many classes at the beginning. How many credits are appropriate not to drop out a class?”

I think I’ve generally taken 2 or 3 biology classes per semester for each of the last several semesters. Overall, I’ve taken either 60 or 75 units per semester for the last several terms — but I should emphasize that this is because I’m a double major and is not a normal (or suggested!) courseload. Lots of people sign up for more classes than they plan to complete, then drop as many as they need to, which is easy because classes can be dropped without penalty until the last two or three weeks of the semester. Most people take about 48 units per semester (4 classes); you’re pretty much expected to take at least 32 units per semester (2+ classes), or else you’re considered to be taking a light load.

7 responses to “A flash of brilliance and answers to some questions”

  1. Mitra says:

    Last night, I went to visit Carter ’07 and he made us spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. In a large pot, he was simmering tomato juice, tomato paste, onions and spices, and to this mixture he added slightly-browned meatballs. The insides were still raw at this point, but he had fried them for a few seconds so they wouldn’t fall apart. You simmer them in the pot of juices for about 25 minutes and they turn out really well.

  2. Jessie says:

    75 units is getting a little sick. smile I was taking 72 for most of this past term, until I cracked and dropped 9.59 because I was doing horribly in it. And because between classes and the UA, I was getting to the point of not being completely functional. Congrats on making it through your term!

    I see you’re planning to take 9.18. I took it this past term. It’s neat material, but always make sure that your presentation software is compatible with the professor’s or she will be very angry and you will be very unhappy!

  3. Sam says:

    My mom makes huge, round, perfectly cooked meatballs by only frying in extra virgin olive oil, but I have no idea how. I once tried searing and then baking to cook the inside, but she just laughed at my inferior cooking abilities. My great-aunt uses Carter’s method, but on hers the crispy outside always falls off, which is the best part (but doesn’t it give you cancer too?).

    Perhaps the laws of heat transfer stop to function for my mom.

    I hope this doesn’t come off as bragging or anything; I’m sure Mollie and Carter are fantastic chefs, it’s just that my mom has superpowers, that’s all.

  4. My grandma makes some really great meatballs too. She bakes them in the oven without frying them first, which gives the meatballs a nice brown texture without the crispiness. The insides are not a problem, since you do it in the oven (unless you’re making some HUGE meatballs).

    I can’t remeber how long or at what temperature you’re supposed to cook them, but you could try your luck grin. Wait till the color seems right.

    -Antti Hallavo

  5. amino21 says:


    i love the ‘biology is life’ title, and i’m a pre frosh looking towards a career in molecular biology, so your insight is of great help.

    i could use some tips on how to get my first taste of research without having any prior experience….should one just start e-mailing faculty in hopes that maybe one professor will be kind enough to take a newbie freshman under their wing, or are their more resourceful ways of landing one’s first lab opportunity?

    you mentioned the NIH, do you mind elaborating on how you got involved in that?

    wow, meatcubes, brilliant indeed.

    and great blog, simultaneously very helpful and amusing,

    thanks smile

  6. amino21 says:

    whoa, correction in wishful thinking, i’m not a prefrosh, but hope to be in 2006….any tips on admissions in general would also be very helpful, like what qualities in prospective biology majors are especially attractive to the admissions board?…….thanks

  7. James says:

    I am a freshman in New Orleans and I was wondering what course I might take if i’m inerested in trying to combine mechanical enginering with biology and chemistry (if I get into MIT)?


    ps. Do you know if being an Eagle Scout or having a Certificate of Artistry might have any pull in an application to MIT.