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Graduate Student Spotlight: Corshai Williams

Categories: Students

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

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Corshai Williams has been a member of Professor Tim Jamison‘s research group for three years. Her current research consists of the synthesis of bedaquiline (bdq), an antituberculosis drug. Bedaquiline was discovered by a team of researchers at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Beerse, Belgium and is owned by Johnson and Johnson. Bedaquiline was approved by the FDA in 2012 and became the first new anti-tuberculosis medicine in more than 40 years. The cost of goods (CoGs) for bdq is pretty expensive due to lack of selectivity in favoring the therapeutically desired diastereomer of the drug. Thus, the researchers’ efforts have been fixated on devising a strategy to either 1) develop a diastereoselective synthesis for bdq or 2) increase the diastereomeric ratio of the desired to undesired diastereomer which could potential decrease the cost per dose for bdq. Tuberculosis (TB) continues to position itself as threat to human health and she is elated to make even slightest effort to address this issue.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Corshai shares the thing she is obsessed with, the question to which she’d like to know the complete and total truth, the museum she’d open, and more!

  1. How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
    In undergrad, organic chemistry was my favorite chemistry course and I wanted to learn more about it. I did a research internship in the Jamison lab the summer before I applied to MIT and I was certain I wanted to work in his lab if I got accepted and so the decision was quite easy.
  2. If you owned a boat, what would you name it?
    I’d name my boat “Decommer”, my great-grandmother’s middle name.
  3. Which fictional character would be the most boring to meet in real life?
    Chuckie Finster from “The Rugrats”. I think he’d be too afraid to do anything spontaneous.
  4. What problem or situation did TV / movies make you think would be common, but when you grew up you found out it wasn’t?
    TV made being an adult seem fun but…not really.
  5. If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
    When people go skydiving (I went for my birthday last year), where exactly are we? If you have pictures taken while you’re in the sky you can see what is clearly the curvature of the Earth…but we never left earth so where are we?
  6. What is something you are obsessed with?
    Sneakers, it’s really bad.
  7. Where and when was the most amazing sunset you have ever seen?
    In 2019, I went to the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins Site in Belize and watched the sunset from the very top, such an indelible experience!
  8. What food have you never eaten but would really like to try?
    Lamb chops.
  9. Which celebrity do you think is the most down to earth?
     I actually met Ice Cube at Alex and Ani (not sure what either one of us was doing there) and he was so nice! Not what I would have expected.
  10. What is the most unsettling film you’ve seen?
    Hmm, it would have to be either The Frozen Ground or 12 Years a Slave.
  11. What TV show character would it be the most fun to change places with for a week?
    Linda Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers”.
  12. What goal do you think humanity is not focused enough on achieving?
    Honestly, humanity is not focused enough on humanizing everyone irrespective of race, sex, and political preference.
  13. What artist or band do you always recommend when someone asks for a music recommendation?
    Hmm, this is hard I’ll give my top 3. I’d say: Free Nationals, The Chainsmokers, and Rae Khalil.
  14. If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
    I would open a museum called “The Museum of Memorialized Failures”. This museum would have exhibits of failures or shortcomings in various subjects such as science, art, medicine, and technology. I don’t think we realize how significantly our failures compliment our successes as we often omit failures and only celebrate success or things that work.
  15. What animal or plant do you think should be renamed, and what should the new name be?
    Definitely the Platypus. It should be named a “whatchamacallit” because in all seriousness what is it? Aesthetically it looks like a duck but then a beaver but then…I’m not exactly sure.
  16. If you could hack into any one computer, which computer would you choose?
    Dexter from Dexter’s laboratory. He always seemed frustrated with DeeDee for being in his lab. I’m sure he had some Nobel Prize worthy work stored on his computer.
  17. If money and practicality weren’t a problem, what would be the most interesting way to get around town?
    Something resemblant of Heelys but they could turn into biodiesel fueled levitation devices controlled by a joystick-like controller. You’d have to go to levitation driver’s school. The idea would be that everyone would be helping to combat global warming whether they believe in it or not.
  18. If you could only bring one book or movie with you to spend a month on the International Space Station, which would it be?
    The movie I’d bring would have to be “The Temptations”. I can watch this movie nonstop.
  19. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a work of fiction?
    Never blindly believe the things people tell you about other people. If you’re going to judge people be your own judge and don’t accept other people’s verdicts unless you have proof. Book: Everybody’s Son – Thrity Umrigar
  20. What always cheers you up when you think about it?
    Going roller skating! Roller-skating is so much more than a pastime for me.

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