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Graduate Student Spotlight: Carolyn Barnes

Categories: Research, Students

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

Carolyn Barnes has been at MIT for two years and comes from Knoxville, Tennessee. A member of the Kiessling Lab, Carolyn’s research  involves making synthetic mucins. Mucins are the proteins that make up mucus and are crucial in helping prevent infections and keeping us healthy. By creating synthetic mucins, the group hopes to better understand the molecular interactions that give rise to mucin’s ability to prevent infections and eventually create novel therapeutics based on mucins. Carolyn chose to pursue a PhD in chemistry because she is interested in investigating human health and disease from a molecular level.

As the subject of this Graduate Student Spotlight, Carolyn reveals the best vacation she’s ever taken, the thing she’d learn if she didn’t have to sleep, the museum she’d build, and more!

  1. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?Learn how to make pastries.
  2. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
    Hiking and snorkeling in Hawaii. 
  3. If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
    A museum on ketchup.
  4. What are some small things that make your day better?
    Coffee from area 4 or a bike ride around Boston.
  5. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
    Dolly Parton (and why she is Tennessee’s gift to the world).
  6. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    Opening a plant store.
  7. Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
  8. What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
    Cat stuck in a flip flop.
  9. What food do you crave most often?
    Sweet potato fries.
  10. 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?
    Having to decide what to do every day.
  11. What’s the funniest TV show you’ve ever seen?
    Parks and Rec.
  12. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
    An apartment with in-unit laundry.
  13. What is on your bucket list?
    Completing a half ironman.
  14. What skill would you like to master?
    Making croissants at home so I stop buying them everyday at Area 4.
  15. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
    Backpacking in Patagonia,
  16. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
    Molecular gastronomy.
  17. What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
    Reading, spending time outside, and going to Haymarket to get some bargain produce.
  18. If you could know the truth behind every conspiracy, but you would instantly die if you hinted that you knew the truth, would you want to know?
    No, I am incredibly bad at lying.
  19. Who would be in the lineup for your ideal music festival?
    Glass Animals, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Maggie Rogers, Milky Chance.
  20. If you owned a boat, what would you name it and why?
    Dilemma-nade 2 (Inspired by a boat called dilemma-nade that is found in the Cambridge Yacht Club.

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