MIT 24-Hour Challenger ● 2021
An investment in educating the next generation of scientists is crucial to ensuring our health and well-being in the future. There has never been a more important time to support the life sciences — this is a time of amazing discovery, enormous opportunity, and great challenges.
I applied to MSRP-Bio because I wanted to learn more about what it would mean to pursue a PhD. Graduate school seemed intimidating at first, but after this summer it’s become an achievable goal. I’ve not only had the chance to practice coming up with appropriately-sized research questions, but I’ve also learned how to devise methods to clarify ambiguous experimental results. I didn’t expect to see this much growth in myself, and I know the program is making me a better scientist. I would definitely do it again.
I’ve known I was interested in cancer research for a long time, but working at MIT has shown me that computational tools are key to understanding the disease. I can see myself using the programming languages I learned during MSRP-Bio on my own projects in the future. The experience exposed me to new areas of research, and gave me knowledge that I can take with me wherever I go. MSRP-Bio is designed to help you get the most out of the summer, and it really caters to your every need and provides a strong support system.
Everyone I met during MSRP was so creative, but also so humble. The students and faculty were all excited to discuss ideas, and also willing to admit when the conversation reached the limits of their knowledge. I learned a ton at MIT, both about protein biochemistry and about scientific career paths. Balancing my life as a Navajo with my love of science is extremely important to me, and this summer helped me realize that a career in policy could combine my passions for research and native affairs.
Supporting MSRP-Bio students was the perfect way to honor my parents — both MIT alumni. My father was a first-generation American on scholarship to MIT, and he later served as a professor and advisor to many generations of students. My wife and I have gained enormous satisfaction from supporting these bright, young minds. I cannot explain how gratifying it is to watch students with such incredible backstories go on to such successful careers. In this case, the giver may actually be the greatest beneficiary.
I had tangential interactions with MIT as an undergrad at Harvard, all of which were positive. I had a very favorable impression of MIT’s institutional culture and the scientists it produced, so it was my top choice in applications. At interviews I was struck by the electric atmosphere on campus, the rigor and ambition of the research, and the caliber of students in the program, who were not only bright but also warm and welcoming. So far I am absolutely thrilled with my decision to join them.
During my undergraduate studies, I realized I enjoyed the challenge of biology and trying to make sense of the complexity of life. I knew I wanted to go to grad school and continue learning and performing research. I chose MIT because they had one of the best programs in terms of research in the country, and (in my opinion) the best community of faculty to learn from and work with. I am now working on understanding how cells decide what they will become and how they stick to that plan once they have made it.
What makes the life sciences at MIT so extraordinary is their ability to transfer knowledge and inventions to society for its benefit. That is much of why Kendall Square and Boston are what they are. Kendall Square is to biopharma what Silicon Valley is to technology. None of the robust economic impact would have occurred if it hadn’t been for MIT’s life sciences. They help everyone, and now they need our help. I feel giving in this way is a cogent test of maturity and the state of one’s own heart.
MIT Biology is unique in that it prioritizes involving its students in its scientific community over getting them to work as soon as possible. The courses-only first semester and the introduction to the faculty during independent activities period create a tight-knit community of graduate students while integrating them into the greater biology community. This program allows students to become familiar with the faculty and research in the department before narrowing their interests to a specific lab.
My goal is to pursue questions of interest to me, applying novel ideas and approaches to fill gaps in knowledge in the field of neuroscience. The Biology Graduate Program at MIT has provided me with the resources, training, and cutting-edge facilities to develop myself into a critical thinking, driven scientist. I am currently studying the synapse, the fundamental unit of communication in neurons, which could help unravel the complexity of the nervous system.
I chose MIT Biology because of the unique departmental community. At many large graduate programs, molecular biology is split up across many departments. MIT Biology provided me with many research options to pursue as a new graduate student under a single department. This has proven to be an excellent choice. Even beyond choosing a lab to do my graduate research in, MIT biology’s collaborative departmental structure continues to facilitate conversations with researchers outside my discipline.
I chose MIT Biology for two reasons: the department was committed to helping students succeed both as scientists and in life, and they promoted a strong network of support and collaboration between students. At MIT, my advisor, my classmates, and my professors have all been extremely supportive. On top of that, I had access to inspiring interdepartmental collaborations. I would like to thank Paul and Cleo Schimmel for their generous support — overall, MIT Biology is a great place to be a graduate student.