Graduate Student Spotlight: Alyssa Antropow

Danielle Randall
August 22, 2017

Originally from Northern New Jersey, Alyssa Antropow began her graduate studies at MIT in 2013. Today, as a member of Professor Mohammad Movassaghi's group, Alyssa's research is focused on the total synthesis of structurally challenging and biologically relevant alkaloid natural products. Organic synthesis continues to provide exciting drug targets for innovative disease treatments. Building on their longstanding interest in the agelastatin alkaloid family from a synthetic and biological standpoint, Alyssa and other members of the Movassaghi Group  recently reported the synthesis of agelastatin derivatives as modulators for cancer invasion and metastasis. In collaboration with biologists at Tufts Medical Center, they are studying the effects of these alkaloids in a three-dimensional co-culture assay for the effects of mammary fibroblasts on associated breast cancer cells. Alyssa's focus has been designing highly selective and concise routes to interesting natural products to enable both development of synthetic strategies and applications in biological studies.

As the subject of August 2017's Graduate Student Spotlight, Alyssa shares the piece of entertainment she wishes she could experience again for the first time, the skill she would choose to master instantly, the one rule she'd make and enforce everyone to follow, and more!

1. What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
Family milestones

2. What’s the best book or series that you’ve ever read?
Every book I read becomes my new favorite. Most recently, it is All the Light We Cannot See.

3. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t gotten around to it?
Sailing at MIT.

4. What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience for the first time again?
The Trans Siberian Orchestra in concert.

5. What are your top three favorite cities in the world?
New York, Beijing, and Washington DC.

6. What weird or useless talent do you have?
Amazing memory for useless information.

7. What smell brings back great memories?
The ocean.

8. What’s the best TV show that is currently airing? What’s your favorite TV show of all time?
Currently airing: Modern Family
All time: Parks and Recreation

9. What are your top three favorite movies?
Moonrise Kingdom, La La Land, and John Wick

10. Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I was fascinated by the idea that I could synthesize compounds that would treat disease.

11. What do you hope never changes?
Change is the only thing that never changes.

12. If you suddenly became a master at something, what would you want it to be?
Singing.

13. Where would you spend all your time if you could?
At the beach.

14. Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
Motion City Soundtrack.

15. What’s something that really annoys you, but doesn’t seem to bother most people?
Whistling.

16. If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?
Be considerate.

17. What is the scariest monster you could imagine?
The patriarchy.

18. Who, besides your parents, has had the greatest impact on your life?
My sisters.

19. What is your guilty pleasure?
Ice cream for dinner.

20. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
Event planning - I love organizing details and seeing everything come together in the end.

Many thanks to Alyssa for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!