That was the sound of me bombing my first grad school exam. I walked out feeling fine, having finished all the required questions and more. In fact, I did terribly. In both percentage and percentile terms, this may be the worst mark in my academic history.

Surely it will be surpassed tomorrow, when I take my biochem exam. Two other biophysics students (second-years) were in the class, but they dropped it, leaving me as the only person in this chemistry class who does not hold a degree in chemistry.

I’d feel better if I felt like I were learning a lot, but mostly I just feel left in the dust, trying to decipher alien terms like “retro-aldol” and watching the rest of the class draw the structures of isoleucine and glyceraldehyde from memory. I can’t do problem 1a on the practice test.

I did vote, but it’s a small consolation.


I have my biochem midterm on Tuesday. The practice questions were just posted; I’m too scared to look at them, but hopefully I’ll be able to study tomorrow.

I filled out my absentee ballot today; if I mail it successfully tomorrow, it will mark the first time I have voted in an election. Very exciting.


Years ago my mother had mentioned that “The Day the Earth Stood Still” was one of the best science fiction movies she had seen, so when I saw that it was being shown at the Dudley House Sci-Fi Night, I resolved to go see it. It was definitely worth it; one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. Sure, it has some plot holes (why is the Martian a tall human with a slick hairdo?), and its moral isn’t exactly subtle, but after 55 years it still manages to convey the same urgent message.

Go see it.


I just survived my first exam of Grad School (not my first Harvard exam, though). It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. At least, I was able to answer all the questions, even though we weren’t required to answer all the questions. None of this actually equates to score; I’m incredibly bad at guessing how well I did on a test. Suffice it to say: not too bad.


Something very cool happened that I completely forgot to mention. On Tuesday, I had my Medical Ethics dinner seminar. It was being held in a conference room in a building next to the main Med. School campus. I knew it was in the conference room on the 12th floor, which the security guard told me was in “the Folkman lab”. It was only after I walked into the lab that I realized the professor in question was Judah Folkman. Judah Folkman is perhaps the most famous anti-cancer researcher in the world, due to his discovery and development of angiogenesis inhibitors. He is a big enough celebrity that I recognized him immediately when he dropped in on our session to say “hi” and offer a cryptic half-joke on the neurology of trying to learn and eat at the same time.


I’m doing better but not great, preparing for this test and trying to do this chemistry problem set. I found a study group, and I had a realization: not having a textbook to refer to is a real problem if the lectures are not easily copied down. I just need to find a good biochemistry text. Tomorrow.


I spent my evening at a concert set up by the Toons, another MIT a cappella group. One of their alumni was just diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, so they decided to host a benefit concert for MS research. We performed, as did they, MIT Dance Troupe, singing groups from other colleges, and MIT’s improv comedy group. I wasn’t particularly happy with our performance, but it was a fun concert.

Now it is time for sleep.