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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

Rubbing Elbows by Paul B. '11

I have pizza with a famous person.

Last week, I blogged a little about how MIT’s student body really distinguishes the Institute from any other university that I know. On one level, it almost seems as if campus is constantly brimming over from the sheer amount of passion, creativity, and pure intelligence that suffuse all of MIT. At the same time, though, I have come to realize that MIT’s faculty also play a tremendous role in creating, encouraging, and preserving the campus culture we have all come to know and love.

The traditional image of a college professor is, I think, something along the lines of an intimidating old sequipidelian I’ve already introduced you to Jeremy, but he’s actually just one of the many, many completely amazing professors and instructors that populate MIT’s corridors and classrooms. The blogs already have a ton of entries about the zaniess, creativity, and passion of MIT’s faculty – and what’s actually here on the website is only a small sample of the entries that could be written.

Beyond simply having awesome personalities and/or lecturing skills, you’ll hopefully be happy to know that the research MIT is so well known for is still advancing at full throttle, across all disciplines. MIT’s homepage has featured so many stories of this revolutionary discovery or that once-unthinkable breakthrough that I hardly have time to read them all.

As you may already know, I am making my own (very small) contribution to this research through my UROP in the Langer Lab. In spite of that, until just recently, I had never actually met Professor Langer before. Most of the time, I work directly with a post-doctoral student named Sandeep, who is actually the person who hired me; so on one level there was never any need for me to see Professor Langer anyway. Although I’ve heard he’s actually pretty approachable (especially as Institute Professors go), I decided to wait for the right time to strike…I mean, uh, introduce myself.

That opportunity came a few weeks ago, when I received a very exciting email inviting me and any other interested UROPs in the lab to meet with Professor Langer for a pizza dinner! I immediately confirmed that I would come. After that, waiting for that day to finally roll around came close to how it felt to wait for admissions decisions…well, okay, maybe not quite. But I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to finally meet Langer!

As it turned out, Professor Langer is even more personable and friendly than I could have ever hoped for. Including me, seven students showed up to the pizza dinner (I’m amazed there weren’t more), which lasted over an hour. We talked about everything from the quality of the food to the state of education in China, from this one pizza shop in New York Dr. Langer was particularly fond of to the sort of qualities he liked to see in UROPs. Perhaps most significantly for me, Professor Langer also talked about how he wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to do upon graduating (from Cornell) with his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Certainly, he told us, he never saw himself as a professor…and yet, here he is, one of MIT’s most famous and most highly respected researchers and scholars.

Of all the pictures I’ve taken here at MIT, this may be my favorite yet.

25 responses to “Rubbing Elbows”

  1. pratik says:

    hi Paul!
    Really it must feel amazing when you get a chance to have a heart to heart conversation with someone you admire.And when that person who slightly scared you turns out to be a humble and nice person its a real icing on the cake.If I make it to the class of 2012,I will follow suit and capitalize on every opportunity like this one.Thanks for letting us have a glimpse of MIT.I am scared,I have fallen in love with a college to which I havent even been admitted yet.

  2. Shruthi says:

    Hey Pratik :D This is what we call “The Love for MIT” syndrome… Join the club !

  3. W00t for MIT love! :D I’m in!

  4. Ana says:

    If only we had the chance of meeting him next year…

  5. Gautam says:

    First time commenter, just had to get this FIRST.

    The professors, the students… The entire community at MIT seems too good to be true.

  6. Steph says:

    The student-teacher relationship reminds me of my college. It’s great when professors hang out with their students.

  7. Just another reason to go to school at MIT. Free food and awesome professors :D. What a life… *starts to dream of the wonderful world of MIT* smile

  8. Shruthi says:

    The picture is really nice smile

    @Justin: Yep, its becoming a full time occupation, to dream that is :D

  9. Nihar says:

    The MIT faculty is a great asset to the ‘tvte… a handful of some of the most brilliant minds of the 21st century dedicated to hone the creativity and passions of the youth….
    Hats off to the faculty! =)

  10. Efe says:

    It must be so awesome to speak to professors at the forefront of their fields. You are lucky, Paul. I agree with pratik: “I am scared, I have fallen in love with a college to which I havent even been admitted yet.”

    P.S. Nice color combo in the pic, Paul wink

  11. Ashwath says:

    Wow!!! Now that is what I call cool!

  12. EV says:

    Freshman Online Application & Tracking

    Application tracking is no longer available for entry year 2008. Best of luck to all applicants!

  13. Jalpan Dave says:

    Excellent entry and the timing is impeccable! I was just reading about Professor Langer and how he was ranked as one of the 15 (or 20) of the most important people to the field of biotechnology:
    (This article is really awesome. Everyone: do have a look at it.)

    Then I started wondering, ” how would a student ever be able to approach a professor like him.” And in came this blog entry!!!!!!

    Paul, is there a chance you can expand more on this: “the sort of qualities he liked to see in UROPs.” It’ll be really helpful to me next year:):)

  14. Shruthi says:

    On a really vague note, you remind me of Bryan, of Backstreet Boys, in that pic :D

  15. Anonymous says:

    “I am scared, I have fallen in love with a college to which I haven’t even been admitted yet.”
    That’s a good quote. I know how it feels. I’m actually consciously trying to avoid looking at the blogs here, just to soften the emotional impact if I don’t get accepted. I’ve even stopped putting my name in these comments, because of some paranoid feeling that they could be used against my application. But I guess things could turn out OK, I have that foreboding feeling I get just before getting the results of a big test. Since I tend to ace those tests, I guess things should turn out ok.

  16. Laser says:

    Yeah, having a college in your sights for 7 years can make a bad fall if you don’t get accepted. Being deferred was hard enough for me, to be denied will suck (bluntly). Maybe we all will make it for fall?

  17. Alias says:

    Man, what fun and excitement…
    Wow! MIT Syndrome (def.) – a state of dreaminess that the applicants have, wishfull thinking and dreaming of MIT, waiting tension… ect…

    I really fell y’all I just wish you all the best of luck… smile maybe we might be all admitted…

    Way to go Paul!

  18. Shruthi says:

    I ssoooooo wish for that to happen Alias :( But lets see, only time will tell….. (Now I am getting all philosophic….)

  19. @pratic

    hey dude, i also feel the passion you have for MIT. I hope we will make it this fall. lets pray hard bro.

  20. pratik says:

    Hi there guys!
    wow its amazing yet humbling and relieving to know that there are so many really great people thinking and feeling the same emotions as me right now!!!!!!!Now my love for MIT has increased a million fold and being the die hard fan of knowledge that I am I wish more than ever that I make it to MIT.I really think MIT is my destiny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Hawkins says:

    You had dinner with Langer!!!

    (lol, the first thing that came to my head when I typed that was, “professor Langer, Harry.”)

  22. pratik says:

    hi people!
    This is something on a slightly different note.Do you really believe that the answers to all our questions lie in the present theories like the string theory for example?I personally believe that the answer to every thing will be revealed only to one person according to this beautiful line:when the last man on earth was alone in his room the door was knocked.This line is known as the shortest horror story.

  23. Anion says:

    Just in case anyone forgot and/or wasn’t present during the EA results…

    ^unofficial MIT admissions chat.

  24. concerned... says:

    oh gracious me do you need a nap, a haircut and a shave.

    but on the whole youre looking pretty cute!