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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

Perfect weekend by Mollie B. '06

Sun, fun, and Plymouth Rock.

Oh, it’s been such a good weekend.

I went into the lab for a short day which included transfecting some rat hippocampal neurons in culture, developing four Western blots, and preparing some plates for splitting cells over the weekend. (NOTE: As I was writing that sentence, I said, “[Totally inappropriate four-letter word]! I have to go into lab today!” Good thing I started writing this entry, because I would be up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle tomorrow if I didn’t split my cells today.)

I ate lunch at ABP, which is a special treat for me because it’s a bit of a walk from the lab and because it’s kind of expensive for lunch. It’s on TechCash, but since I’ve graduated, there’s no more reservoir of parental TechCash money, and I actually have to pay for all my meals myself. It kind of sucks. But anyway, it was a nice sunny day, and I ate my soup and sandwich outside in Kendall Square while reading a book.

After leaving work, I walked home along Vassar Street listening to “Summer in the City” on my iPod. There is basically nothing better than walking home in the summer heat listening to that song, unless you happen to be wearing a sundress and flip-flops, which I wasn’t. I got home and started getting together my sources and protocols to begin writing the first draft of the paper on my project.

Adam got home around 5, and we picked up our friend Mark ’07 for dinner and a movie. After the movie (where I saw Bryan!), we came home and watched House and ate chocolate-covered blueberries.

We got up around 9 and picked up Mark ’07 and Stephanie ’08 for a trip to Water Wizz, a water park on Cape Cod that Adam used to go to when he was little. We drove down to the Cape with the radio on and the windows down, and I got to sing a bunch of awesome songs along with the radio.

Sidenote: I love Cape Cod because it is slightly cheesy and touristy, but still really cute. Adam says (with typical South Shore resident disdain) that most of the Cape looks like it was constructed in the 1950s, and I don’t disagree. There are seafood restaurants and mini-golf places everywhere. I love it.

It was a pristine summer day, hot and breezy, and there was hardly anybody at the water park. We went on all the water slides, lazed in the lazy river, splashed around in the wave pool, and went mini-golfing. (Yes, this is a combination water park-mini golf place. Best idea ever.) I even managed to not get sunburned, which is really kind of a feat when one is as sheet-white as I am and when one is trying not to get skin cancer. I got to prance around in my new polka-dotted bikini, too.

We left the park around 4 PM, and stopped a mile down the road for Cool Dogs, my absolute favorite summer treat. You can buy them at the grocery store, or order them on from Beantown Dogs, but I prefer to eat them only in the summer at this one particular mini-golf place that Adam and I always go to on the Cape.

So let’s make a list of Things that Remind Mollie of Summer in Boston:
1. The smell of SPF 50 sunscreen
2. A Cool Dog piled high with whipped cream and hot fudge
3. “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful
4. Sundresses and flip-flops
5. Eating frozen blueberries and whipped cream after dinner

After eating our delicious Cool Dogs, Adam and I took Mark and Steph on a tour of Plymouth (“America’s Hometown”). Adam showed off his high school and elementary school, and we drove through downtown to see Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower. Adam and I have been together long enough now that I know all his stories, so I was the tour guide. ;) We went to Adam’s house, and his parents took all of us to dinner.

Plymouth Rock, in the flesh. Isn’t it nice that it says “1620” on it? How thoughtful of the Pilgrims.

Mark Steph Adam
Mark ’07, Stephanie ’08, and Adam ’07 outside the shrine which houses the rock. And yes, the one with the thumbs up? I’m marrying that one. Voluntarily.

Moof and Me
Adam and me with the Mayflower reproduction ship in the background.

This morning, Adam went flying remote controlled airplanes with his dad and Col. Pete Young, who’s a senior lecturer in the Aero/Astro department. So while the boys were out having a good time, I slept in until 11, ate a leisurely lunch, and went into the city to shop a little.

It was really hot in Boston today (the heat index was about 96F), so I was glad that all the stores I stopped in had air conditioning. I picked up a cute pair of khaki capri pants and a cropped yellow sweater at H&M and checked out the shoe selection at Macy’s. (I also found the church I want to get married in, but I’m pretending that wasn’t the actual point of my outing, so play along.)

After I came home, Adam and I went to the grocery store and bought our groceries for the week. We’re having steak tomorrow! I headed into lab for about half an hour to split my cells (thanks to this entry); Adam cleaned the apartment and I cooked dinner.

And now it’s almost time for The 4400!


1. Evan B. asked

So…do you know if you’re going to get to keep your blog next year? I think it would be great to get the graduate perspective…plus all the bloggers are awesome, and I’d hate to see them go.

Well, this blog will still exist as an archive, just with no new postings. :) At any rate, I’m sure my graduate school life will go something like this: Wake up. Go to lab. Come home. Go to bed.

2. zel asked,

Hmmm… so way back in the day when I was doing my college visits, I was at [reputable state school] where the general admissions people touted the school’s new undergraduate research program. When I asked one of the engineering professors about the program, he said something to the effect (although much more nicely put) that undergrads don’t know jack, so it’s pretty pointless to try to get them working in labs. This made sense to me, and I kind of took it for granted until I heard about MIT’s 80% UROP rate. Now I’m really interested in doing research, and as you’ve mentioned, it’s very important for grad school.

I think that was very snotty of him to say, particularly since undergrads are really just grad students with less experience. (And point in fact, undergrads can even be better researchers than grad students — Adam had a grad student working for him at Draper, because Adam knew how to design things well and the grad student didn’t!)

I will note too that undergrads at MIT are given quite a bit of freedom and respect in their undergraduate research. Professors at MIT know that undergrads can produce absolutely outstanding work, given some instruction and training, and they’re generally very eager to work with us.

Is there any way to get UROP experience without experience? If I wanted to… say, do some research in physics, are there “entry level” positions for me to start out in? Would the professors and senior researchers actually bother to teach me procedures? (I assume they’re quite busy.)

Most definitely to all of the above. When I interviewed for my UROP, I was coming in with very little experience (just a 10-week internship at the NIH), and Morgan was very well aware that my postdoc was going to have to teach me a lot of protocols. The one thing he did ask was that I only take the job if I was serious about sticking around the lab for a year or more, because it does take a long time to train a new UROP, and he wanted to make sure all that training time wasn’t wasted. Professors and senior researchers are very busy, but they were all undergrads once, so they have a pretty strong commitment to training the next generation.

When you apply for a UROP, you will generally tell them what sort of experience you do or don’t have, but not having experience isn’t a particularly terrible liability as long as you indicate that you’re willing and excited to learn new things.

3. Hannah asked,

I’m curious, how does one become an admissions blogger?

Well, for me personally, Ben noticed that I posted quite a bit on CC, and that I generally like to answer questions and explain things. He did some sort of administrative magic to look up my real name, and he offered me the job.

New blogger(s) for next year will need to have a proven track record of regularly musing in cyberspace in an amusing fashion. Ben says: “There is no formal application process, but please note that we only hire experienced bloggers, and therefore your current blog (i.e. your “portfolio”) is the major factor in whether or not we choose you. The quality and frequency of your content (and how long you’ve been keeping your blog) will all affect your chances of being chosen.”

4. Anna asked,

how do you feel about working with animals in labs. even though you’ve only run them through mazes, which is pretty harmless, but how would you feel if you’re doing cancer research and have to inject harmful substances into them?

Well, I’ve had to dissect rodents for hippocampal neuron cultures before, and I don’t like it. MIT’s Division of Comparative Medicine is in charge of animal protocols, and they make sure all the researchers at MIT are treating their experimental animals with care and respect, so I certainly don’t feel that I’ve ever done anything unethical. (After all, an unhappy animal is never a good experimental subject, so it’s really in my/any researcher’s best interest to keep our animals happy.) I prefer to avoid doing things that make me sick to my stomach — hence the reason I’m not going to medical school — but when I have to do those sorts of things, I can, as long as I talk myself into it.

5. Larisa asked,

Also, could you give me a link or something to your cell article? My bio teacher loves cell and always clips out articles from it for the class.

Oh man, that situation is a story and a half. So when you send a paper off to a journal, they will often return it with questions that you have to answer to the reviewers’ satisfaction before the paper will be accepted. Our paper came back with a few questions about our electrophysiology experiments; unfortunately, the collaborator who did our electrophysiology had just moved to England. So my postdoc had to train a new electrophysiology person from scratch, which, as you might imagine, has taken a really long time.

So the long and short of it is that the paper’s not officially submitted yet.

6. Helen asked,

Can the courses taken to fulfill Hass-D requirements also fulfill Hass Concentration?

Yes, but only one class for the concentration can be HASS-D. Mostly this is not a problem (there aren’t too many concentrations that would contain more than one HASS-D anyway, and certainly not more than one HASS-D in different categories). Foreign languages are probably the major exception, because you can take multiple foreign language classes as HASS-Ds. If you concentrate in a language, you can only count one of your upper-level language classes as both HASS-D and concentration.

(Did that make any sense?)

What’s the difference between a minor and double majors? Mollie, suppose you take a minor in course 9, can you dance with two diplomas when graduating? If not, how will it be? And can a take double majors and a minor?

A second major will take more classes than a minor. For example, the minor program in biology only requires five classes, while a major in biology requires ten. A student who double-majors is also required to take 270 units outside the GIRs, while a student who does a major and a minor is still only required to take 180 units outside the GIRs.

If you get a major and a minor, I know you don’t get two diplomas, although you do get some sort of notation on your diploma that you completed a minor.

The most any student can officially have is two majors and two minors. (My friend Swapna ’05 graduated with degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biology and minors in Biomedical Engineering and Comparative Media Studies. She is, in fact, a beast.)

9 responses to “Perfect weekend”

  1. Bryan says:

    I think I’d much rather be Esqueleto rather than Nacho Libre :^)

  2. Charlotte says:

    ::sobs:: Can we have Sigh! But maybe will do just fine. Please?

  3. Charlotte says:

    “My friend Swapna ’05 graduated with degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biology and minors in Biomedical Engineering and Comparative Media Studies. She is, in fact, a beast.”

    –Terrific girl. That’s what I would want to do too. Except that I’m forever trapped by countless of timetable clashes. It doesn’t help that a single lab class is enough to block up my whole afternoon.

  4. mike says:

    a few Cape ideas if you ever go farther down the Cape (and in case you don’t know about these).

    Go to the Beachcomber in Wellfleet which is on a bluff overlooking the ocean. The water is a bit cold, but the ‘Comber has decent greasy food and a great bar overlooking the ocean. A tip: in what looks like the same piece of dirt is both the town lot and the one belonging to the ‘Comber. Park in the ‘Comber lot because they both charge $15 but in their lot you can use the ticket voucher for food. And they have music at night on the weekends (starts 4pm on Sundays).

    The other tip is to try the Sundae School ice cream stores which are mid-cape. They look just like something out of the 50’s, on the walls they have pics of the summer crew going back 20+ years. And the ice cream is great!

  5. Brianna says:

    Hi, Mollie – I just remembered today that a few entries back you wrote that you were coming down to Rhode Island for the Air Show.

    I live just about 10 minutes from the air base and the planes have been practicing over my house all day…it just made me happy to think that someone from MIT would be close by!

    I hope you enjoy it!

  6. Jason says:

    Hello mollie:

    I am the incoming course 16 graduate student. I have read your blog for a while. It’s really interesting and informative. Well, I have a question, which is not “very” related to this article. I plan to take course 16.50 “Introduction to Propulsion” this fall, and I want to prepare in advance. I would like to know is there anyway I could get information about what textbook would be used in this course?(I have checked OCW and gooogle for a long time, but in vain.)

    Thank you~~

  7. Jon says:

    mini-golf is bomb! especially on the cape

    I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but Pirate’s Cove has seriously got to be one of THE BEST minigolf courses in America. If you haven’t been, check it out!

    My girlfriend also says “Holiday Hill” is a good course…though I’ve never been, she says its cheaper and more fun…but I don’t really know about that…Pirates vs. Holday magic? I’m pretty sure pirates win hands down.

  8. mir says:

    I’m at work and was getting tired of my pile of paperwork, so I thought I’d try to find your blog..and I the Plymouth pictures.. I, too, was always “amazed” that the Pilgrims, in their time of starvation, sickness and strife that first winter, took the time to neatly carve 1620 into the rock!

    We’ll have to find the Sundae School!

    Give Abby a raisin for me. Tell her we are excited she is coming to visit.

    Give Adam a hug from his MIR.

  9. mir says:

    p.s. Did you ask his mother if you could marry him?