Graduate Student Spotlight: Carly Schissel

Categories: Research, Students

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

Originally from San Diego, California, Carly Schissel has been at MIT since 2016.
Carly’s research in Professor Brad Pentelute‘s lab focuses on designing peptides to deliver macromolecules to the inside of cells. Specifically, Carly investigates peptide-mediated delivery of a type of antisense oligonucleotide that is currently used to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Recently, she teamed up with researchers from DMSE to use machine learning to design new peptides that are more active than those we’ve studied previously. These peptides reached 80 amino acids in length, and were able to deliver the oligonucleotide to the nucleus of muscle cells in mice.
As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Carly shares the most interesting documentary she’s ever seen, the most interesting place she’s been, the skill she’d most like to master, and more!
  1. What’s the most interesting documentary you’ve ever watched?
    Icarus is one of the most interesting—it’s about this cyclist/filmmaker who sets out on a personal doping experiment, but meets a surprisingly endearing Russian scientist who’s in the hot seat and gets dangerously caught up in the Russian doping scandal.
  2. What made you decide to pursue the work you’re doing now?
    I decided to pursue a PhD in chemistry, and specifically chemical biology, because I wanted to make and design molecules that could affect biology in ways to benefit human health. I didn’t know anything about peptides before coming to MIT, but now I will think about peptides every day for the rest of my life.
  3. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
    Last fall I went to Acadia National Park and had the most fun I’ve had in a really long time. The combination of autumn colors, amazing hikes, and the break from isolation made it totally fantastic.
  4. If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
    Maybe this already exist, but I would make a museum of found notes. Like letters, lists, notes, phone numbers etc. found on the ground.
  5. What are some small things that make your day better?
    Tea in the morning, a quiet email inbox, and friendly hello’s.
  6. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
    How to play volleyball.
  7. What irrational fear do you have?
    Sleeping through or forgetting about a meeting.
  8. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?
    Kate McKinnon!
  9. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    Flying disc dog trainer.
  10. Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
    Bryce Canyon National Park. It felt like another planet!
  11. What invention doesn’t get a lot of love, but has greatly improved the world?
    Silicone popcorn popping containers so you don’t have to use bagged popcorn or pop it with oil on the stove.
  12. What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
    The video where the mom asks her young son who’s running in circles what he has, and he shouts “a knife!” and she shouts “NOO!!”
  13. 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?
    I thought it would be great to have more control over my future, which I do—but it’s not as awesome as I expected!
  14. What bends your mind every time you think about it?
    The Fermi Paradox—thinking of the possible reasons why we haven’t encountered intelligent life outside of Earth.
  15. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
    A house, or at least a nicer apartment.
  16. What skill would you like to master?
    I’d like to be a better storyteller, both for scientific and humorous content.
  17. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
    Hardcore baking and cookie decorating.
  18. What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience for the first time again?
    Music concerts. Although I think the next time I go to one, it will be like experiencing it for the first time again!
  19. What inconsequential super power would you like to have?
    Knowing whether or not there’s someone in the elevator as it arrives.
  20. If you suddenly became a master at woodworking, what would you make?
    Nice dishware and cutting boards so I don’t have to buy them.

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