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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

Answering some questions by Mollie B. '06

The entry on commencement was just getting unwieldly.

Questions
1. Sevi asked,

here is a question for you about MacGregor rooms’ size. I consider MacGregor as my first choice in housing lottery, but some slarifications is needed. What is it in feet/meters, approximately (or, exactly sizes, if known)? Is it possible to find in Internet the floors’ layouts?
Then, on internet connection. Does MacGregor have wireless access in all rooms? According to the mit wireless access map, it has, but on the page about MacGregor housing there is only wired connection is mention. Whom to believe? :) If it has no wireless access, is it inconvinient, how do you think?

A MacGregor room is eight feet by fifteen feet. I’m not sure how high the ceilings are, but I guess they must be at least eight or nine feet high. MacGregor does have wireless coverage — all the dormitories do now. It might not be listed in other places because the wireless for many dorms was just put in last summer.

There is a website with floorplans for MIT buildings, but I think it’s only accessible on campus. I don’t actually know, because I’m never on the internet off campus. :)

2. Christina asked,

Is it bad if we can’t understand what most of this actually…is? :-X

Nah, you’ll find out soon enough. :) The one-line version is that a lot of the experiments I do involve getting cells to take up foreign DNA or RNA, and I can do that using a variety of methods.

3. Danielle asked,

Can we install our own window ac in any dorm room on campus?

and when you do the procedures in the lab, do you have an instructions sheet to go off of or do you know what you’re doing like the back of your hand? when do you get to learn how to do all this anyways?

Yes, you can install a window AC in any dorm — and you don’t have to pay for electricity in the dorm, so you can use it as much as you’d like, too. In MacGregor, you have to do a little bit of maneuvering since the windows in the high-rise have screens, but it’s not too terribly complicated.

I use both methods in the lab — when I learn a new technique, I write all the steps down (or copy a page out of somebody else’s lab notebook), but I’ve done most of the protocols so many times that I don’t have to look at my notebook anymore. If I need to learn a new protocol, I usually ask one of the postdocs in the lab to show it to me, then try to do it myself the next time I have to do it. I’ve learned a lot of protocols (and a lot of protocol-independent common sense) in the past three years.

4. Anonymous asked,

I bet you found yourself using a couple tenses, picked
one of them, and went back to meticulously change all the ones
already in the tense you decided against using. But I must ask you,
why present if it’s all past stuff?

Haha, I actually wrote that whole thing in the present tense, although admittedly it was because I was modeling it off this entry, which I wrote in past tense and then went back to change. Present tense just sounded better to me.

5. Melodie asked,

If there’s one advising seminar that I really, really, really want to take, and I’m ok with two others, should I just sign up for one for the lottery, or do all three?

The usual line given about lotteries at MIT (eg the HASS-D lottery) is that putting extra choices won’t diminish your chances of getting your first choice — I think in both lotteries, they’re not trying to maximize everyone’s happiness, but they’re just trying to get everybody into a HASS-D/seminar. So go ahead and put the other two as your second and third choices — they shouldn’t affect the probability that you’ll get your first choice.

6. Jon asked,

So now a question, when did you decide that you wanted to be a scientist “when you grew up”?

I actually did some research to answer this one, and the best answer I can come up with is that I decided I wanted to be a scientist after reading A Brief History of Time in sixth grade. At the time, I wanted to be a physicist (those of you who know me, I’ll give you five seconds to stop laughing) — since then, I have wanted (sequentially) to be a research psychologist, a geneticist, a cognitive scientist, a behavioral geneticist, and a cellular neurobiologist. You can sort of see it as a periodic wave oscillating between biology and brain science, and finally settling right on the interface. :)

7. Anonymous asked,

Are buildings and dorms on the West Campus connected by underground tunnels, as buildings on East Campus are?

To my eternal dismay, no. I have always wanted a tunnel under Amherst Alley along dorm row, because wouldn’t that be a super idea?

I guess we have the Tech Shuttle, but it is just not the same.

And thanks again to all of you for your congratulations. :)

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