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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

Cue the montage music by Melis A. '08

Ten years ago when I was a high school senior, a long-haired friendly guy by the name of Matt McGann visited my poster at the Intel Science Talent Search public session and gave me an MIT frisbee. A year later, he offered me a blog and the task of writing about my life at MIT and the research endeavors of my fellow undergrads. Today, little seems to have changed, as I am still (sort of, I’ll explain) in school at MIT, doing research, and enjoying this view from my lab on a daily basis:

Campus aficionados will recognize Building 46, which houses MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Science department, and the little dome barely visible behind it. Before you begin to question why it has taken me so long to finish my Bachelors, let me assure you that I graduated with a MechE/BME degree in 2008. I have chosen to stay at MIT to do the longest graduate program possible, the MD-PhD, because, well, I love this place! I’m entering the 6th year of my program, meaning I’ve finished the first two years of medical school (in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, hence my continued MIT affiliation), and three years of graduate school (in the Harvard Immunology program). My research is on the microbiome of the female genital tract, and my lab is in the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.

Thinking back, my UROP-centered blog was like an all-access pass to the labs that define MIT’s presence on the global stage. I had the opportunity to learn about the work of so many talented MIT undergrads and professors, who never failed to dazzle me with their passion and creativity. Many of the students that I profiled continued in the fields that they performed their UROPs in, like Shaye Storm, who studied extrasolar planets as an undergrad and is wrapping up his PhD in Astronomy. There’s also Mike Xiang, who was doing two UROPs simultaneously when I blogged about him; you won’t be surprised to hear that he’s completed his PhD in molecular cancer biology and is now about to finish his MD, with an eye on radiation oncology. Of course not everyone stayed in the same field, like my dear roommate Anna Teytelman, whose UROP was on Japanese hip-hop; she ended up getting her PhD through MIT’s Operations Research Center and is now working at Google in NYC ☺

With my sister now entering her junior year at MIT, in a way I’ve been experiencing undergrad all over again through her, but boy is it easier this way. Though there were countless times during undergrad when I questioned whether the stress, exhaustion, and anxiety that I was experiencing was worth it, I can definitively say now that it was (and I could have chilled out a little)!