Aditya Nandy smiles by the seashore.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Aditya Nandy

Categories: MIT News, Students

Chemistry Graduate Student Aditya Nandy describes his research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.

Aditya Nandy has been at MIT for the past five and a half years, and comes to Cambridge from the Bay Area of California. A member of Professor Heather Kulik‘s research group in Chemical Engineering, Aditya’s research focuses on understanding the role of electron configuration — specifically unpaired electron configuration — in governing catalysis for challenging reactions.
“I have focused on the transformation of gaseous methane into liquid methanol,” said Aditya. “Through my research, I have uncovered that existing catalyst screening tools do not work well for transition metal complexes, the type of catalyst that I am interested in screening. I pursued a Ph.D. in Chemistry after earning my Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and wanting to be closer to the fundamentals. Therefore, it’s ironic that I ended up back in a Chemical Engineering department! I’ve always thought of myself as a hybrid scientist.”
As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Aditya shares the best trip he’s ever taken, his irrational fear, the skill he’d most like to master, and more!
  1. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
    A trip to Southern France and Italy. Nice and Cannes have some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. The mixture of Italian and French culture at Nice was also incredible! I guess you can say that it was … Nice. Badumtss.
  2. What irrational fear do you have?
    Chatting the whole zoom room when I really meant to chat with my friend via a DM.
  3. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
    Mixology!! It’s so fun to make cocktails. If you haven’t seen Drink Masters… I recommend. Unfortunately, mixology is an expensive hobby!
  4. Who has impressed you the most with what they’ve accomplished?
    My former labmate in the Kulik group — Chenru Duan — has to take the cake for this one. Chenru accomplishes so much daily… and the more you talk to him, the more you realize he is filled with ideas. Working with Chenru has led to my own productivity increasing!
  5. What skill would you like to master?
    Time management. I’ve made progress throughout my Ph.D… but sometimes I get so stuck on a task, and woosh. The day goes away. I’m constantly trying to improve this, so any suggestions are welcome!!
  6. What is one thing you thought you would grow out of but haven’t?
    My affinity for chocolate in drinks. I love mochas. It’s basically an adult choccy milk. As a kid, I loved chocolate milk, so this was predictable, but I’m not ready to give up my mochas just yet.
  7. What could you give a forty minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
    Warriors basketball. I’ve been a fan since I was 5 or so years old… and most of those days were grim in terms of the team’s performance. Lets go dub nation!!
  8. What’s worth spending more on to get the best?
    A good meal. Oleana in Cambridge. Heavenly. I could never make that at home.
  9. What is special about the place you grew up?
    I’m from the Bay Area (specifically Fremont), California. It’s a melting pot of people from different backgrounds. I never realized how diverse the place was until I left. The weather is also unbeatable (if you like snow, I’m sorry for this answer)
  10. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?
    Morgan Freeman for sure. Who wouldn’t want that soothing voice narrating their whole life?!
  11. What invention doesn’t get a lot of love, but has greatly improved the world?
    Honestly, ball point pens. Imagine having to carry around your ink and quill.. yeah, that’s not it. The ball point pen transformed society. I say this as an avid note-taker.
  12. If you had an app that showed three stats about any person you looked at, what three stats would you want it to show?
    How nice is this person (quantified as people they are nice to vs people they are not nice to), how much social contact has this person had in the past 3 days (in absolute counts), and how is this person’s day going (one to ten). I can use these stats to decide whether or not I should start a conversation, lol.
  13. What are you looking forward to in the next decade?
    Growing as a person. I am excited to see the new life experiences that I’ll have as the future looms ahead!
  14. What inconsequential super power would you like to have?
    The ability to function with zero sleep. I need my sleep, but sometimes I feel like I lose my time to sleep.
  15. What two things are terrible when separate but great when you put them together?
    Bananas and plain cheesecake. But if you combine them to make a banana cheesecake, it’s heavenly. Recommend the banana cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory.
  16. Where was the most amazing sunset you have ever seen?
    A pink and purple sunset in Cambridge, MA..
    Cambridge, MA. Nothing like that sunset.
  17. If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
    What will the demise of humans be? (dark and sadistic — I know)
  18. What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
    Best: My Bose headphones (QC35). Those things get every day use! Worst: a spare clicker that I bought in case my other clicker fails. It’s never been used.
  19. Who is the most famous person you have met?
    Nonscientific: Colin Kaepernick. Scientific: Jennifer Doudna.
  20. What food do you crave the most?
    My mom’s goat curry with potatoes. Nothing like home cooked food.

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