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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

Mad scientist? by Melis A. '08

“Everybody's a mad scientist, and life is their lab. We're all trying to experiment to find a way to live, to solve problems, to fend off madness and chaos.”- David Cronenberg

According to Wikipedia, mad scientists are “typically characterized by obsessive behavior and the employment of extremely dangerous or unorthodox methods. They are often motivated by revenge, seeking to settle real or imagined slights, typically related to their unorthodox studies.” Ok, so maybe I’m not a mad scientist. But, when people ask me where I am, the answer is inevitably “In lab.” My class schedule serves to justify my response. I am taking the following:

7.02– Biology Lab– A notorious pre-med requirement…with a grueling 18 credits (Each week, we have 2 hours of lecture, 2 hours of “Scientific Communication” class, 8 hours of lab, and approximately 6 hours of homework and lab-prep.) We spend the semester learning pretty much all of the basic biology techniques, from protein biochemistry to genetics. People enter the class with varying levels of lab experience: some have never even held a pipette, and others are Seniors who have published papers. One great thing about the class is the degree of instructor interaction; some really great professors (J. King, T. Orr-Weaver, D. Kim, T. Schwartz) teach the lectures and hang out around the lab to ask us questions and get to know us.

2.004- Dynamics and Controls II- One of the most fun and practical of the Mechanical Engineering requirements. We learn how to model, analyze, and control systems. Control systems are actually all around you (and even in you! For example, your blood sugar is regulated through a very complex control system to make sure that your body has enough juice to function.) There is also a lab component, and though it’s only 2 hours a week, it really helps with learning the concepts presented in lecture. Incidentally, Laura is also taking the class. On the first day of lecture, the professor called on her, proceeded to forget her name, and then called her “Lauren” for the next hour. It was hilarious. So, everyone should call her Lauren now. Prof. Gossard is actually wonderful about learning people’s names and interacting with the class.

21H.302- Ancient Rome- I will be the first to admit that history classes generally scare me. I hadn’t taken a history class since 10th grade…but I chose to take Ancient Rome since I took 3 years of Latin in high school and I think the Romans are ridiculous and really interesting. Professor Ostrow is a really engaging lecturer; he makes the hour go by so quickly! Everyone who completes the class qualifies to go on an IAP trip to Rome — to take a guided tour with the professors and see the incredible Roman ruins in person. We will be reading and interpreting many primary texts.

HST.S12- Seminar in Human Clinical Investigation- Taught by an assistant program director at the MIT Clinical Research Center, this seminar is shaping up to be really swell =) Not only do we get to meet leaders in Clinical Research in the Boston area, but there’s minimal homework and free lunch! I worked in an NIH Clinical Genetics lab last summer (and I’ll be working there again this summer), so hopefully this seminar will give me a good feel for whether this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.

UROP- MIT Bioinstrumentation LabToday was a really, super fantastic day. I got some really great results, and it was such a wonderful feeling… it definitely makes it all worth it. After my 96-well plate had a yellow reaction in all the right places, my UROP supervisor and I started celebrating. I’ll be starting to write a paper based on the research I’ve been doing for the past year and a half and hopefully I’ll be able to submit it to a journal by the end of the year.

So, let’s see…adding it all up: 8 + 2 + 12… 22 hours in lab a week (on average…sometimes even more)! Yay! I wouldn’t have it any other way =)

7 responses to “Mad scientist?”

  1. abhishek says:

    it is a very beautiful article

  2. turnef says:

    Mad scientists are fending off madness and chaos. So are the “mad” scientists fending off themselves?
    I think mad scientist solve not only the chaos of their environments but also the chaos of their own minds. So are they getting less efficient when their chaotic mind gets settled? More the chaos, better the scientist?
    Best of luck with the history class and all the others, Melis! I hope the seminar will help you make up your mind about your future.

  3. Obsessive behavior… check. Unorthodox methods… check. The rest will probably surface over time.
    I’m getting there… :-D

  4. MADMAN says:

    Everybody’s got a few screws lost eh?

  5. Solomon says:

    Every scientist should be a little mad if there are to be technological advances.
    I will build a shuttle that will take me to the core of the earth. Go on dismiss the idea as preposterous and mad but one day it would be done and you would now understand why I am saying scientists should be a little mad.

  6. turnef says:

    By the way, Laura+n(of surname) does sound a bit like Lauren.

  7. Kagan says:

    By the way you are lucky, at least it is the real world.

    I live in MatLab:)