Chemistry Graduate Student Andrew Latham describes his research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.
Originally hailing from San Francisco, Andrew Latham received his bachelor’s degree from University of Notre Dame. As a first year graduate student in Professor Bin Zhang‘s research group, Andrew uses theoretical and computational models to study the genome. In particular, his project develops methods for biasing computational protein structures to match experimental data. The Zhang group intends to use these models to study intrinsically disordered proteins, which play important roles in genomic expression.
As the subject of May 2018’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Andrew shares the most interesting documentary he’s ever seen, the topic he could discuss for 40 minutes with no preparation, the small thing that improves his day and more!
1. How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I truly stumbled upon the world of theoretical chemistry. I wanted to find a way to combine my knowledge of chemistry and mathematics skills, but did not realize that theoretical chemistry existed. When I began discussing research possibilities in undergrad, and discovered that researchers use coding and models to explain observable phenomena, I realized it would be a natural fit.
2. What game or movie universe would you most like to live in?
I would live in the Harry Potter universe. Imagine how cool it would be to use magic.
3. What’s the most interesting documentary you’ve ever watched?
I am a huge sports fan, so I really appreciate ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. In particular, I like Four Days in October. It tells the story of how the Red Sox won their first World Series in almost a hundred years by beating the hated Yankees in 4 straight games, after starting the series down 0-3.
4. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
The extra time would let me work at night, and enjoy the day. I could run, spend more time with family and friends, and actually still have time to relax.
5. If you were on a 27 hour flight and could only watch one movie, what would it be?
Even though I would eventually get tired of it, I would probably choose Gladiator.
6. Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
My favorite fictional characters are Jon Snow, Harry Potter, and Batman.
7. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Being able to visit Hawaii with my family after finishing undergrad was an amazing experience.
8. Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
Everyone stuck in an elevator wants to get out. Therefore, I would like to be stuck with someone who could help me escape.
9. If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
Everyone close to me knows how big of a sports fan I am. I would open a museum for a lesser known sport, like rowing.
10. What are some small things that make your day better?
Relaxing with my friends. It’s easily the best part of my day.
11. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
I could easily give a presentation on bay area sports from the last 20 years.
12. What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?
Procrastination. I hate procrastinating, and even sort of do the reverse, where I rush and try to get everything done as soon as possible.
13. What movie title best describes your life?
The Pursuit of Happiness
14. If you suddenly became a master at woodworking, what would you make?
I would make furniture. My friends and I are about to move into a new apartment.
15. What irrational fear do you have?
I am always afraid of being left out, which is often entirely irrational.
16. What chance encounter changed your life forever?
I don’t know if any chance encounter has changed my life, but a chance decision definitely has. Deciding to row crew in high school (which I did not know much about), helped give me a love for endurance sports that continues to today.
17. If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal for?
My favorite hobby is running. Unfortunately, that is already an Olympic sport, and I have no shot of winning.
18. What is your dream car or other mode of transportation?
A way to teleport places would be amazing. Imagine how much time you could save if you could instantly travel places.
19. What toy played the biggest part in your childhood, and why?
Definitely Legos. I spent hours building, and rebuilding them.
20. What movie universe would be the worst to live out your life in?
The Dark Knight. Even though Batman saves everyone, that place has insane amounts of crime.
Many thanks to Andrew for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!