Chemistry Graduate Student Chloe Morgan describes her research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.
Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Chloe Morgan is finishing up her second year at MIT. As a member of Professor Mei Hong‘s group, Chloe’s research uses solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to study membrane proteins. Specifically, she is studying gp41, a viral fusion protein involved in HIV transmission. Learning about the structure and function of gp41 will help researchers understand more not only about how HIV is spread, but about how fusion between membranes is carried out in a variety of biological systems.
As the subject of April 2019’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Chloe shares the most interesting place she’s been, the seasonal food she craves most often, her secret talent, and more!
- Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
I visited Toledo, Spain a couple of years ago. The whole city is gorgeous beyond words, and the history is really rich. It was amazing to see the diverse architecture – cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues are all within walking distance of each other. There are also a ton of paintings by El Greco throughout the city, which were a huge treat.
- How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
As an undergrad at NYU, I became interested in using biomolecular NMR as a tool to better understand the functions of proteins involved in disease processes. At NYU, I studied a protein involved in conveying antimicrobial resistance to bacteria. When I came to MIT, I wanted to use and build on what I’d learned, so finding a lab that uses NMR to study biomolecules seemed like the best option.
- What invention doesn’t get a lot of love, but has greatly improved the world?
Vaccinations. It’s amazing that we can live without the fear of catching a preventable disease.
- What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
I love Legally Blonde. I appreciate how it upends a bunch of toxic tropes, and it’s my go-to when I’m feeling down.
- What’s something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?
Renting movies from a store or by mail.
- If you built a themed hotel, what would the theme be and what would the rooms look like?
I’d build one focused on sustainability – a building that has the least impact on its surroundings, uses only renewable energy, and produces the least amount of waste possible. The rooms would be modern, minimalist, and colorful. Apparently there are some hotels that encourage their guests to offset their stay’s carbon footprint by spending a small amount of their vacation planting trees, and I think that would be another great thing to do.
- If money and practicality weren’t a problem, what would be the most interesting way to get around town?
- What food do you crave most often?
I love Girl Scout Cookies, particularly Samoas. It helps that they’re only around for part of the year.
- If you had an app that showed three stats about any person you looked at, what three stats would you want it to show?
Favorite rainy day activity, number of pets owned, and favorite band or artist.
- What is your secret talent?
I’ve played the French Horn since I was ten! I still like to practice whenever I can.
- 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?
Getting to eat whatever I want. As a kid, I was sure I was going to be buying a cheesecake for dinner on a daily basis.
- What job doesn’t exist now but will exist in the future?
- What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
I’m getting married later this year, which is obviously incredibly exciting! I’m also looking forward to establishing myself in a career, whatever that may turn out to be.
- What sport could you play the longest in a televised game, without anyone discovering you aren’t a professional athlete?
If marching band counts (which I firmly believe it does), I could definitely march in the Drum Corps International Championship for a fair amount of time without making myself look too silly.
- An epic feast is held in your honor – what’s on the table?
Lots of fresh fruit, veggies, and mushrooms! Roasted squash is a favorite.
- What fictional characters have you had a crush on over the years?
Captain America is my forever crush.
- What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever seen?
I used to volunteer at a bird sanctuary in New York. I spent a lot of time with the baby pigeons, and it was amazing to see them grow and become strong enough to be released back into the city.
- What is the darkest movie you’ve ever seen?
I’m watching a nature documentary series on Netflix right now called “Our Planet”, and a big part of the series is how much the world is suffering from climate change. It’s startling and sad to see the direct impact pollution is having on animals.
- What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
A nice kayak.
- What did you think was going to be amazing but turned out to be horrible?
“Horrible” might be too strong of a word, but living in the middle of Manhattan. It was so loud at night, and there were very few places to go to unwind. I’m grateful that I had the experience, but I probably wouldn’t live in the city again.
Many thanks to Chloe for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!