A female graduate student smiles.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Corey Kaminsky

Categories: Students

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

Corey Kaminsky comes to MIT from the Bronx, New York. She is a 6th year graduate student and a member of Professor Yogesh Surendranath‘s research group, where her studies bring molecular-level insight to heterogeneous electrocatalysts such as those used in fuel cells or electrolyzers. Corey incorporates well-defined active sites onto graphitic carbon surfaces using pyrazine linkages which engender strong electronic coupling between the site and band structure of the carbon. This coupling changes the electron transfer behavior of the sites and makes them good model sites for metal surfaces.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Corey shares the videos that consistently make her laugh, the song that always puts her in a good mood, the current fad she could do without, and more!

  1. How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
    I knew I wanted to study electron transfer and small-molecule activation but I thought I’d end up in a bioinorganic lab. During grad visit weekend, I had a fantastic conversation with Yogi, who is now my adviser, and I decided to study those topics in the field of electrochemistry instead.
  2. What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
    Any video clip of toddlers tasting lemon slices for the first time.
  3. What’s the most interesting documentary you’ve ever watched?
    That’s hard, the most recent one that I enjoyed is Challenger: The Final Flight.
  4. What bit of trivia do you know that is very interesting but also very useless?
    There was a town in upstate NY named Neversink that was flooded to make a reservoir for NYC. They sunk Neversink.
  5. What movie universe would be the worst to live out your life in?
    An all-way tie between every movie in which NYC is destroyed.
  6. What’s the most ridiculous animal on the planet?
    The petroleum fly (Helaeomyia petrolei) – the larvae live in tar pits and ingest crude oil along with their food.
  7. What chance encounter changed your life forever?
    One summer while volunteering at my high school, I ran into the woman who prepared the chemistry lab materials and she offered me a volunteer position. It was my first experience of lab work outside the classroom.
  8. What movie or book do you know the most quotes from?
    I’m far more likely to remember song lyrics than recall lines from books or movies, so I’ll say In The Heights because the movie version will be released soon.
  9. What’s worth spending more on to get the best?
    Theater tickets.
  10. What inconsequential super power would you like to have?
    The ability to know exactly how late or early anyone that I am meeting will be – it’s a power that’s inconsequential for everyone but me.
  11. What food do you crave most often?
  12. What did you believe for way too long as a child?
    A lot of incorrect pronunciations of words that I first learned by reading. I thought broad was pronounced with a long o sound. Imagine my surprise when I got to MIT and was wrong again!
  13. What’s the most amazing place in nature you’ve been?
    I adore the Adirondacks, one of my fondest memories is eating breakfast on the roof of a lean-to near Lower St. Regis Lake as the sun slowly burned off the fog and dragonflies zipped around.
  14. What’s the best thing about the place you grew up?
    The strength of the community.
  15. What is something that is popular now that annoys you?
    Ride sharing apps. We’d be better off investing in better mass transport options.
  16. What is your guilty pleasure?
    My hour of non-academic reading when I wake up.
  17. What is the silliest fear you have?
    Being a few quarters short for the dryer but only finding out after starting the washer.
  18. What song always puts you in a good mood?
    I have playlists for this purpose. “Across the Great Divide” by Nanci Griffith, “Mountain Sound” by Of Monsters and Men, “Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall” by Simon & Garfunkel, all of Mariah Carey’s MTV Unplugged EP or Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. I could go on.
  19. What apps have changed your life a lot?
    All the messaging apps that let me stay in contact with friends and family as well as apps that let me check out ebooks from the library.
  20. Where would you like to travel next?
    Iceland – I want to visit sites from the sagas, dip in the hot springs and see the amazing landscape.
  21. If you could make a holiday, what would it be like? What traditions would it have? What would people eat on your holiday?
    It would be in the summer where there aren’t that many other holidays and the only tradition is that there must be a large meal with family.

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