Brittany Linn smiles in a corridor.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Brittany Linn

Categories: Students

Chemistry Graduate Student Brittany Linn describes her research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.

Brittany Linn, a second year graduate student, hails from northern Indiana, and is a member of Professor Dan Suess‘ group here at MIT.

“I believe environmental sustainability is one of the greatest challenges we face as a society,” said Brittany. “In my first year of graduate study, I became fascinated by how nature uses complex metal containing proteins to catalyze chemical reactions that, on industrial scales, are energy intensive and contribute to the current climate problem.”

In her research with the Suess Lab, Brittany works to synthesize organometallic models of biologically relevant complexes and enzyme active sites. Specifically, she is synthesizing iron-sulfur clusters to model proposed reaction intermediates of the radical S-adenosylmethionine superfamily of enzymes and using spectroscopy to examine the hyperfine parameters of iron-alkylated and sulfur-alkylated species. The unique spectroscopic fingerprints of these complexes will be used to identify reaction intermediates in biological pathways, elucidating the mechanisms of iron-sulfur proteins.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Brittany reveals her three favorite fictional characters, an interesting bit of trivia about Black-Capped Chickadees, the most fascinating thing about her hometown, and more!

  1. What’s the most interesting documentary you’ve ever watched?
    My Octopus Teacher was a really cool documentary about a diver who forms a friendship with an octopus and visits it nearly every day. It was amazing to learn how intelligent octopi are!
  1. If you were on a 27 hour flight and could only watch one movie, what would it be?
    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
  1. What bit of trivia do you know that is very interesting but also very useless?
    Black-Capped Chickadees have incredible memory—recalling the location of tens of thousands of locations where they have hidden seeds during the winter—and have a characteristic call that sounds like “fee-bee-ee”.
  1. Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
    My three favorite fictional characters are Lara Croft, Scooby Doo and Crash Bandicoot.
  1. What movie title best describes your life?
    Brittany Runs a Marathon.
  1. What is special about the place you grew up?
    Only a few miles from the childhood home of the Nobel Prize Winning chemist Harold C Urey.
  1. What irrational fear do you have?
    Being bitten by a shark! As a kid, I found Bruce, the great white shark from Finding Nemo, really scary.
  1. If you could have a never-ending candle that smelled like anything you wanted, what fragrance would you want it to be?
  1. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?
    Wouldn’t everyone choose Sir David Attenborough!
  1. If animals could talk, which animal do you think would be the most annoying, and why?
    Certainly llamas because of “Llamas with Hats” on YouTube.
  1. What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?
    My favorite book as a child was Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May!) and my favorite book now is the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
  1. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    I would be a gardener in the spring and summer because I love being outside. During the fall and winter months, I would be a yoga instructor.
  1. What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
    The movie Young Frankenstein, directed by Mel Brooks.
  1. What food do you crave most often?
    Peanut Butter.
  1. As a child, what did you think would be awesome about being an adult, but isn’t as awesome as you thought it would be?
    Staying up late at night.
  1. What’s the funniest TV show you’ve ever seen?
    I Love Lucy.
  1. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
    A yellow Noble M500.
  1. What skill would you like to master?
    Tap Dancing sounds like so much fun!
  1. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
    Traveling to another universe with Dr. Who.
  1. What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
    Best purchase I’ve ever made was my Patagonia backpack. Worst purchase I’ve ever made was an “As seen on TV” handheld zucchini spiralizer.

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