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Graduate Student Spotlight: Evans Wralstad

Categories: Research, Students

Chemistry Graduate Student Evans Wralstad describes his research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.

Evans Wralstad is a fourth year graduate student, and comes to MIT from Virginia Beach, Virginia. As a member of Professor Ronald Raines‘ group, Evans investigates the structure/function relationship of ribonucleases with a focus on how protein structure impacts enzymology. He also applies protein engineering to develop novel ribonuclease-based therapeutics targeting viral diseases, including HIV and SARS-CoV-2. In another aspect of his research, Evans worked in tissue engineering R&D for six years prior to graduate school.

“I loved working on a team that oversaw projects from basic research all the way through product development and process engineering,” said Evans. “That experience motivated me to pursue a PhD so that I could gain the expertise needed to lead a team like the one I worked on and eventually oversee applied biotechnology research at a directorial level.”

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Evans shares the thing he thought he’d grow out of, but hasn’t, the person who has impressed him most with his accomplishments, the fictional characters he has a crush on, and more!

  1. What game or movie universe would you most like to live in? What would be the worst to live in?
    I’d love to live in Hyrule from the Legend of Zelda—I’m obsessed with the series to the extent that I have a Zelda-themed tattoo sleeve. As for the worst: The Handmaid’s Tale, hands down. That one hits especially close to home, since it’s set in Boston.
  2. If you were on a 27 hour flight and could only watch one movie, what would it be?
    Cloud Atlas. That’s a movie where every time you watch it, you catch something you didn’t notice the time before. I’d probably watch it seven times in a row.
  3. What are some small things that make your day better?
    When a barista at a coffee shop greets me by name, when I come across a corgi in the wild, when someone lets me know they’re thinking of me, and when my hair looks exactly how I want after the first pass of a comb.
  4. Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
    My Mom. She broke her back in a car accident as a teenager, and she was told she’d never walk again or be able to have children. She walks today, and I’m the oldest of three.
  5. What did you think you would grow out of but haven’t?
    Playing videogames. I figured it was something “only kids do,” but here I am, 30 years old, gaming strong.
  6. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?
    Jessica Walter, the actor for Lucille Bluth and Malory Archer. RIP.
  7. What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?
    As a kid, probably Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Today, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
  8. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    Baker or bartender, no question. I love working with my hands, and both careers are essentially science you can eat and drink.
  9. What food do you crave most often?
    Chicken parm. I know it’s not authentic Italian, and I couldn’t care less.
  10. What problem or situation did TV / movies make you think would be common, but when you grew up you found out it wasn’t?
    Hanging up the phone without saying bye. Seriously—why does nobody say bye?
  11. If animals could talk, which animal do you think would be the most annoying, and why?
    Cats. You think they’re judgmental now, wait until they can tell you how you’ve been looking a little doughy lately or how that haircut isn’t doing your face any favors.
  12. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
    I’d like to say read, exercise, or meal prep, but let’s be honest—I’d probably watch even more Netflix and YouTube.
  13. What’s worth spending more on to get the best?
    Mattresses, shoes, and tires. Never skimp on things that separate you from the ground.
  14. What is special about the place you grew up?
    Virginia Beach is where Christopher Newport and the Virginia Company first landed in 1607, but the land was too marshy, so the colonists sailed up the James River and settled in what became Jamestown. First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach commemorates the initial landing site.
  15. What bends your mind every time you think about it?
    How all of our human history will be one infinitesimal blip in the history of the universe, and how something like human history has probably even played out uncountably many times before.
  16. What fictional characters have you had a crush on over the years?
    Ned from Pushing Daisies and Christian from Moulin Rouge. I will take no questions at this time.
  17. Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
    Venice. It  looks like it stepped out of a painting, a pop-up storybook, and an animated Disney movie all at once. And it’s so weird to think it’ll probably be a modern-day Atlantis within a lifetime.
  18. What invention doesn’t get a lot of love, but has greatly improved the world?
    Citrus juicers. You don’t know real pain until you’ve had to hand-squeeze a bunch of citrus for a key lime pie or pitcher of margaritas: your fingers ache, your cuticles burn, and your hands are the driest they’ll ever be.
  19. If you had an app that showed three stats about any person you looked at, what three stats would you want it to show?
    Average time it takes them to respond to a text; how frequently they actually do the plans they say, “Oh, definitely!” to; and their weekly sugar consumption in grams.
  20. If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
    Do blondes really have more fun?

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