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MIT student blogger Keri G. '10

In which brains are awesome by Keri G. '10

Neener neener neener.

Snively would call this the bloggers’ freebie post. I would disagree, having never taken advantage of the “hey kids, look at my schedule!” post before. I’d say the freebie post is the inevitable “sorry guys, I’m super hosed again, here’s a picture of an otter for you.”

(Oh man I love otters so much)

So, let’s take a look at the schedule of a first-semester senior with two classes and a swim test* left between her and graduation:

9.15 – Biochemistry and Pharmacology of Synaptic Transmission. This is the last of my six Course 9 elective classes, and it’s looking to be one of the best. Twice a week, Richard Wurtman stands in front of 40 students and talks about neurotransmitters and drugs for 90 minutes. He does not use any notes. <!–Jess and I are –!> I have been trying to figure out how any one man can have that much information in his head. (Please send any hypotheses you may have to keri-lee at mit dot edu. I’m dying to know.)

9.71 – Functional MRI of High-Level Vision. Remember when I was a TA for a neuroscience class this summer at nerd camp? With these guys? We spent some time in class talking about neuroimaging studies and their uses in localization of brain function. Most of those talks were in relation to the fusiform face area (FFA), which responds selectively to faces over objects presented in the visual field, and Nancy Kanwisher, who has taken part in many elegantly designed neuroimaging studies and co-authored just about every neuroimaging paper that isn’t a gigantic pile of crap.

Yeah, so she’s teaching this class.

My thoughts when I walked into the room were as follows:
1) HOLY CRAP YOU ARE A VERY IMPORTANT PERSON I AM INTIMIDATED BY YOU
2) HOLY CRAP THAT IS A GOLDEN RETRIEVER SITTING ON THE FLOOR OF THE CLASSROOM
3) HOLY CRAP I AM TOTALLY SITTING NEXT TO YOUR DOG

After sitting and actually listening to her for two classes, I concluded that Nancy Kanwisher is my new favorite person ever. Her discussions are really interesting, and she consistently brings up points that make or break neuroimaging studies.

7.342 – The X in Sex: A Genetic, Medical, and Evolutionary View of the X Chromosome. An advanced 6-unit seminar class in the Biology department being run by a postdoc at the Whitehead Institute, 7.342 assigns two papers a week on some aspect of the X chromosome and its role in biology – in the first few weeks, we’ve discussed the multiple causes of sex reversal, the discovery of X-linked traits and sex-specific areas on the X chromosome. it’s a super small group that meets once a week for two hours, so we actually get to talk in depth about the papers we read for the week and what each of us got out of them. I wish the Biology department would promote these classes more and start doing so earlier, since so many people are eligible to enroll in them (juniors and seniors who have taken at least one class beyond Introductory Bio can sign up), but if they did, there’d be too many people for the discussions to work as nicely as they do now.

4.343 – Photography and Related Media. This is a grad class, which I’m taking because I took the undergrad-level class last fall and I am running out of photography classes to take for credit. We take pictures using digital and film cameras and go through workshops on printing, lighting, and other aspects of photography, all the while working towards a final term project.

If you’re interested in photography classes at MIT, Biyeun from the ARTalk blog has written quite a few posts on it, which you can check out here, here, and here.

On that note, I’m also taking a color photography class through the Student Art Association. The class rocks so far, and I’ve managed to successfully not spill hot toxic developer all over myself yet. (Progress!) The SAA has amazing classes and studios for all sorts of different artistic endeavors – ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, all that – and I’ve always had too much on my plate to do anything with them, but not anymore because I’M ALMOST DONE WITH MIT. YEAHHHHHHH. The class meets on Monday nights, though, which means I had to drop a class I’ve been trying to take for two years:

21W.763/CMS.309 – Transmedia Storytelling: Modern Science Fiction. Admittedly, I was mainly interested in this class because of the instructor. I worked with Beth Coleman at WMBR for over a year as an engineer for her radio show; she’s a sound artist, DJ, and a pretty swell lady. The class was nothing like what I’d expected – there’s some science fiction writing at the start of the term, but the class is mainly using that as a jumping point for the creation of an augmented reality game (ARG) in a style influenced by I Love Bees. This is completely unlike anything I’ve ever done, and it’s wayyyy out of my comfort zone, and it’s exactly why I was psyched about the class after the first meeting. Anyway, now I can’t take it because COME ON, COLOR DEVELOPING AND PRINTING.

When I’m not in classes or trying to have a life, I spend about a million hours each week working desk. Welcome to Senior House. I let you in. I sort your mail. I offer up your daily dose of snark.

It’s a rockin’ good time, y’all.


*No, I haven’t taken my swim test yet. Yes, I’ve known how to swim since I was 3. I was scheduled to take it my freshman year at 11:30 on a Monday morning, which was too early for me then and is too early for me now. I’ll take it soon, I swear.

9 responses to “In which brains are awesome”

  1. Liz ('14?) says:

    out of curiosity, does MIT provide swimming lessons for those who hate water?

  2. Keri says:

    Liz –

    Beginner and intermediate swimming classes and lessons are offered through the PE department, so you can learn to swim if you don’t already know how.

  3. Piper '12 says:

    You’re hilarious.

    But otter, not beaver? Betrayal!

  4. Val says:

    One guess…
    he’s making stuff up?

    haha just kiddin’
    nice pic of an otter.very cute=)

  5. Val says:

    One guess…
    he’s making stuff up?

    haha just kiddin’
    nice pic of an otter.very cute=)

  6. JustSomeAlum says:

    That’s an awesome lineup of classes grin Enjoy!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Is there anyone you know who came into MIT not knowing how to swim?

  8. Keri,

    I am glad you liked my picture of the otter.

    I’ll upload another for you at http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencartland/sets/72157622099195909/ tonight.

    UK Otters, I think you’ll find, rule.

  9. -d. says:

    oh my god OTTERS! i, along with matt, just had a little squeal fest looking over the pictures. hopefully we did not wake you up…