Famous Genetics

Let’s live a bit in the past for this blog, yeah? I’m the worst when I start drafting a blog then never get around to finishing it! If it’s any consolation, I’m posting from Tanzania (experiences that I’ll speak to in upcoming blog posts!!).

Welcome to Final Examinations Week! (All proper pronouns to emphasize its importance and legitimacy.)

Accomplishments since my last post include, but (hopefully) aren’t limited to: writing an 11 page Spanish research paper and having a full on conversation with none other than Miss Amy Adams!

I’ve been dreading this Spanish paper since the beginning of the Spring semester so I guess it’s pretty fair to say I had adequate time to mentally prepare – this doesn’t necessarily mean I had adequate time to academically prepare…

This research paper was for my Spanish 90c class (Representations of Racial Belonging and Difference in the Hispanic Caribbean) which was essentially a history-literature course taught completely in Spanish; it was my first language class that wasn’t about grammar! I decided to write my final paper about the development of Cuba as an independent nation and its quest for a unique national identity and how this development was directly correlated with the rise of the sport of boxing as well as Nicolas Guillen’s representation of them in one of his poems. It was really interesting researching boxing in Cuba, but extremely difficult eloquently translating my ideas into Spanish…Like all-nighter difficult, running to the dropbox with freshly printed paper in hand minutes before the deadline difficult – my version of the run of shame. More appropriately, I was also in yesterday’s clothes having been in the library all night. Currently painting a picture of college’s worst moments, you’re welcome.

Truth be told, I definitely was not obsessed with the class. I thought a lot of the themes were repetitive and the discussions didn’t really help me form an opinion one way or the other, although it exposed me to many different opinions. The primary source readings were also really hard as a lot of the text included Creole and French – languages which I am not familiar with (at least for now! I am tentatively planning to enroll in French during my senior year…). Since the class wasn’t heavy on grammar, I don’t feel like I grew as a writer, but my reading and listening skills have undoubtedly improved. The coolest take away from this class was my individual section with my TF – talk about private school!

After submitting this paper, I had 4 days of nothingness before my last final exam. I had no problem filling these days with packing, “lasts” with friends, and getting off campus.

Their leftovers…maybe creepy, but creepy-awesome

I have some really good friends at MIT who are seniors so we scheduled one last meal at The Friendly Toast – a place I’ve never heard of but it’s apparently a really popular place on the MIT campus. Maybe even popular to the greater world too as Amy Adams, husband, and daughter (whose birthday they were celebrating!) were sitting at the booth next to our table!! I was initially staring because their daughter was so FREAKING CUTE as the server brought out a Mickey Mouse shaped pancake with a candle on it. My friends made a comment how it could be Amy Adams which I took as a joke until a quick Google search was full of “Amy Adams in Boston” hits. She’s filming a movie (with Bradley Cooper – what I would have given to have him at breakfast too!!!!) in Boston. My friends and I planned our approach and practiced what we were going to say. The plan was for me to say “Excuse me” as they were leaving their table and someone else would ask to verify her identity. Our plan went very smoothly! The meeting had a very “life comes full circle” feel to it since we had all watched Sunshine Cleaning when we were all stuck together during the weekend of the Nemo storm! We raved about this Sundance type movie while she said it was nice to meet us. As you can see, the fan-girling was completely mutual. I then spent the whole day on a celebrity high.

Breakfast, although off campus, was really convenient for me because I had a tour of the Broad Institute later that morning. The tour was scheduled through my LS1b (Life Sciences 1b: Genetics) professor, Pardis Sabeti, who is a baller. She went to undergrad at MIT, then to Harvard Medical School as well as grad school (doctor-squared), and now has a lab (that’s also international) at the Broad (which is pronounced like Brode by the way). The tour was about an hour as we went to multiple buildings and visited all the machines we had discussed during lectures!

The institute is relatively new and has a gorgeous lobby open to the public! This tour is a great example illustrating the greatness of unstructured time during Reading Period and Finals Week.

Everything is done by robots!!

A ton of their walls are either white boards or glass – talk about never missing an idea! You get to the point where you think you can write on just about every surface! Pretty much a dream study space.

Pardis’ lab takes an annual picture. Everyone in her lab is someone in the original painting and for those who missed photo day, they were photoshopped into the sculptures in the back! It’s like family pictures on a whole new level.

Some of the offices have beautiful views of Boston!!

Necessary end-of-the-tour group photo

One of my favorite parts of LS1b this semester was sequencing our own genomes for class! There’s a lot of liability involved with this lab project so you can imagine that students who wanted to participated signed the crap out of waivers. The experiment spanned a few weeks and involved tons of PCR-ing, PCR purifications, and sequencing/analyzing with chromatograms. The best part is that we understood every step of the process! It was really cool to see the machines that sequenced our genomes. With these sequences, we tried to match our genotype to expected phenotypes (i.e. if we’re early/late risers, if we’re lactose tolerant, etc.). Ah, the sweet life of being nerdy-cool :)

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3 comments

  1. Peter’s avatar

    I spent few days around harvard last week, I really enjoyed my trip and the atmosphere that is described above

    1. Jeanie Nguyen’s avatar

      Woo! Always happy to hear my perceptions/representations aren’t so biased – thanks Peter!! :)

      –Jeanie Nguyen

    2. flowers92’s avatar

      lol “Their leftovers…maybe creepy, but creepy-awesome” !!!

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