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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

Happily ever after by Mollie B. '06

I don't believe in fairy tales, but real life isn't bad either.

I bring greetings from “the little redbrick school up the Charles River” — although my classes are all at the medical school campus, which is in the Longwood Medical Area, and the labs I’ve chosen to rotate in are all at Mass General Hospital. So really I’m more across the river than up the river, and of course I still actually live on MIT’s campus.

Grad school has been treating me well. I’ve been doing mostly the same things this winter that I did last winter: going to class, reading lots of papers, mixing small volumes of colorless liquids in the lab — the difference is that now I’m getting paid significantly more to do it. (Ugh, I just did the math — I’m only getting $3.50 more an hour as a grad student than I was as a UROP. Well, at least my paychecks are bigger.) I’m also TAing this semester, and of course I’m trying to plan Adam’s and my wedding without losing my already small parcel of sanity.

I haven’t picked a lab yet — just like you don’t pick a major at MIT until after your first year, you don’t pick a lab in grad school until you’re ready. When I do pick a lab at the beginning of the summer, my choices will basically be between 1) a C. elegans neurobiology lab that does screens for proteins that have particular functions in the neuromuscular junction, 2) a mouse immunology lab that works with proteins in the cytoskeleton to see what they do and how they cause disease, and 3) a mouse neurobiology lab that studies how particular stem cells decide to become different kinds of neurons, with an eye toward repairing spinal cord injury. What would you pick?

All in all, grad school isn’t that much different from MIT undergrad, except that I have less work to do, I live in an apartment rather than a dorm, and I have to take the T a lot.

Fiance news
Adam and his friend (and our groomsman) Carl ’07 did their course 16 senior project together — they designed, built, and tested a low-cost solar-powered airplane.

Boys with plane
The guys with their plane on the day of its first flight test. (They hadn’t mounted the solar cells yet.)

During the design process, they enlisted lots of help from their buddy-slash-advisor-slash-aerospace-bigwig, Professor Drela, and used the MIT name to strongarm various companies into donating materials for the plane. It actually turned out (because they are awesome) that their plane has the lowest solar-cell-to-wing-area ratio of any solar-powered plane ever built, and a lot of people within and outside MIT were very interested in it. As it happened, one of the people who was very interested is the CEO of a company which designs unmanned aerial vehicles, and he had his people request Adam and Carl’s resumes. They now both have (extremely generous) job offers from this company, and they weren’t even looking for jobs. Cool.

Adam applied to MIT’s aero/astro master’s program as well, and he was offered admission and a research assistantship. He’s planning to defer his admission to the master’s program, work for a year or twor, then go back to grad school — the company he’s working for will pay his tuition and also his full salary while he’s in the master’s program, and he’ll do his thesis research there. He’s really excited about his job — all of his professors have assured him that the company is a really good fit for him personality-wise and in terms of his research interests.

We just signed a lease on a (much) bigger apartment north of Boston, where we’ll move in June with our bunny, and of course we’ll be getting married in September — our wedding website is here, for people (moms) who like to look at this sort of thing. The ceremony will be held at Memorial Church in Cambridge, and we’re having a wonderful science-filled reception at the Museum of Science. And then we’ll go on our honeymoon and then at some (distant) point in the future I’ll finish my PhD and Adam will do his master’s and we’ll have little airplane-building, biology-loving babies.

I’m happy.

EDIT: Thought you might all enjoy an engagement photo, taken by none other than this guy‘s lovely wife.
engagement photo

24 responses to “Happily ever after”

  1. DF says:

    What a great place for a wedding reception! I’ve enjoyed your blogs, all the best.

  2. Christina says:

    Mollieeeeeeeeeeee! Loooooooooove! Mollieeeeeeeeeeee! Loooooooooove! <33333333

    PS – I would pick #2. smile

  3. 10'-er says:

    Hey Mollie! We haven’t heard from you in so long, its great to see you blogging again!!!!!!! I, for one, missed your stories of UROP and Adam, of course. Thanks for the update.

  4. Jillian says:

    I started reading the MIT blogs after you left, but I went back and read a lot of your entries recently. I’m glad you’re doing well!!

    What’s your bunny’s name? smile
    I have two – Oliver and Junior.

  5. Jess says:

    Mollie! It was great seeing you today, even for a second smile I’m so glad you’re doing well. Don’t be a stranger!

  6. Arkajit says:

    Hi Mollie! It’s great to hear from you again. I always enjoyed reading your posts the last couple of years. Thanks for giving us an update on your grad school experience. I’m glad it’s going well. Let us know which lab you end up picking smile And best of luck with the wedding!

  7. Keri says:

    Mollie! Pick 3! Pick 3!

    (Hey, why not?)

  8. Evan says:

    “This being Harvard, argyle sweaters are optional, although no parking will be available for polo ponies.”

    Haha. Awesome.

  9. C.T. says:

    Let me warn you about option 2. Immunology labs that use mice require someone to, uh, “work” with those mice to harvest the antibodies. I had to do a lot of this during one of my post-docs, while very pregnant, during a hot summer. I will never forget the smell. Never. I have a rodent phobia now. Choose carefully.

  10. Omar says:

    Mollie!
    I’m glad to hear everything is going great! wink

  11. Charlotte says:

    I’m so happy to see Mollie back even for just one day!

  12. Charlotte says:

    It’s hard to make a choice just based on the description of the labs’ research. We have to factor in the lab achievements, lab culture and the people inside too.

    Hmmm…personally, I would pick “3) a mouse neurobiology lab that studies how particular stem cells decide to become different kinds of neurons, with an eye toward repairing spinal cord injury” because I like multidisciplinary stuff and I feel that I’ll have a higher chance of actually making a real and direct impact on society. The first two options seem solely exploratory in nature for the moment, although they can still contribute to medicine in the long run. But that’s just me, with my own quirky personality.

    And hey, I want to protest a little. If I were your child, I’ll be fighting over why I must be airplane-building or biology-loving. Why can’t I be into organometallic chemistry instead? Or in fact, why must I do something related to science? Why can’t I be a historian? hmm…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Wow hey Mollie…

    It’s great to read a new blog from you! Good luck with everything in the future…

  14. Saman says:

    I just want to say “happy persian new year”, “happy Noruz”.

  15. Ying Wei says:

    I missed your blog so much! ! ! ^_^
    Feel happy for you smile

    By the way, personally i will choose 2) a mouse immunology lab that works with proteins in the cytoskeleton to see what they do and how they cause disease

    How about you?

  16. nabla says:

    So I skimmed the financial booklet in the admissions packet and glanced over the words “merit scholarship.” Help out here, I’m somewhat confused. I was under the impression that MIT only gives financial aid, not merit stuff. Is this true? Surely some people get merit scholarships from MIT…maybe?

  17. James says:

    Taking a picture in front of Simmons is a bit of a fairy tale in itself. I love that building.

  18. Anonymous says:

    How tall is Carl?

  19. Mollie says:

    Hee, Carl is about 6’3”. Adam is short (5’6”), but he looks really tiny next to Carl, doesn’t he?

    And Jillian, our bunny’s name is Abby (although she more frequently gets called Bunny Girl or Miss Bunny Lady). We’re going to get a bunny friend for her when we move to the new apartment, yay!

  20. L says:

    You guys look so adorable ! Cheers !

  21. roberto says:

    Hi Mollie,

    was it you who wrote “Characterization of Shank1 Knockout Mice”? I found the pdf in the internet while googling for “shank3 knockout”.
    Shank3 does express in the brain, and it seems to be the major cause of the phenotype in the 22q13del syndrome. Would it be possible to know more about the context of your research on shank1-/-? my e-mail is rto [email protected]_ psychology.nottingham.ac.uk

    thank you!
    roberto

    you may find this paper interesting:
    Wilson HL, Wong ACC, Shaw SR, Tse WY, Stapleton GA, Phelan MC, Hu S, Marshall J, McDermid HE (2003) Molecular characerisation of the 22q13 deletion syndrome supports the role of haploinsufficiency of SHANK3/PROSASP2 in the major neurological symptoms. J Med Genet 40:575-584. PMID 12920066

    also this link:
    http://www.22q13.org

  22. Katie K. says:

    Mollie —
    You sound like a pretty awesome person. I, too, am from Ohio, and I will probably go to OSU. However, I dream of applying to MIT, so I found your story and intro info really interesting and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your advice and experiences! (I loved your freshman year list, by the way.)

    PS I think my school’s marching band and your old band have been at some of the same competitions. It is so cool that you were a former band nerd/musical person and got to try new things at MIT.

  23. Katie K. says:

    Mollie —
    You sound like a pretty awesome person. I, too, am from Ohio, and I will probably go to OSU. However, I dream of applying to MIT, so I found your story and intro info really interesting and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your advice and experiences! (I loved your freshman year list, by the way.)

    PS I think my school’s marching band and your old band have been at some of the same competitions. It is so cool that you were a former band nerd/musical person and got to try new things at MIT.

  24. Elle says:

    hey mollie! i know you were a cheerleader so i was wondering if you could tell me a little more about cheerleading at MIT…like are the tryouts hard, do you go to games and competitions, do you practice a lot, etc… i’m still a junior in high school but i’m really interested in MIT and i’d love to hear more. well thanx a bunch!
    ps- congrats on the engagement! you guys look so cute hey mollie! i know you were a cheerleader so i was wondering if you could tell me a little more about cheerleading at MIT…like are the tryouts hard, do you go to games and competitions, do you practice a lot, etc… i’m still a junior in high school but i’m really interested in MIT and i’d love to hear more. well thanx a bunch!
    ps- congrats on the engagement! you guys look so cute <3