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Graduate Student Spotlight: Grace Alqvhist

Categories: Students

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

Grace Alqvhist is a fifth year PhD candidate in Professor Tim Jamison’s group. Originally from central Ohio, she attended Macalester College in St. Paul, MN and then worked as an infant formula product developer at Abbott Labs before coming to MIT in 2017. Grace’s research focuses on applying continuous flow technology to organic synthesis. Using flow as a tool, targets from pharmaceuticals to polymers can be made safely and efficiently using reactivity that is inaccessible or impractical in batch. Grace enjoys working on the interface of chemistry and engineering and driving towards safe, robust, sustainable, and efficient processes.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Grace shares the best vacation she’s taken, the scent she’d choose for a never ending candle, the most interesting place she’s visited, and more!

  1. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
    In 2015, my husband (then-fiancee) and I spent a month in the Greek islands. It was so amazing to see how different each island was and learn about all the history and culture of each one.
  2. What’s worth spending more on to get the best?
    All paper products, like paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues. A few dollars makes a huge difference.
  3. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    Probably working as a software engineer. I have really enjoyed the little bits of coding I’ve done—there’s something so satisfying about always being able to figure out why something’s not working, since that’s not always possible in the lab.
  4. If you could have a never-ending candle that smelled like anything you wanted, what fragrance would you want it to be?
    I would want it to smell like lilacs. There was a big lilac tree in my backyard growing up so it’s a very nostalgic scent for me, but I rarely find candles or other scented things that actually capture it well.
  5. Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
    Definitely Iceland. Every minute there’s a new beautiful view or incredible natural wonder, and it’s also got such a fascinating culture and history.
  6. What’s the funniest TV show you’ve ever seen?
    Taskmaster for sure. It’s a British game show and the whole premise is just having comedians compete at ridiculous tasks. Whole seasons are also free on Youtube!
  7. What’s something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?
    Printing out directions. My dad used to keep a folder of printed Mapquest directions in the car so he’d know how to get to our friends’ houses.
  8. Who is the most famous person you have met?
    I’ve met two First Ladies: Hillary Clinton and Jill Biden.
  9. What bit of trivia do you know that is very interesting but also very useless?
    Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but it’s really closer to 11,800.
  10. What sport could you play the longest in a televised game, without anyone discovering you aren’t a professional athlete?
    Is darts a sport? I’m pretty decent at it and even the pros have bad days.
  11. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
    Other than my research, definitely the Similac line of baby formula. I worked on tolerance products (Similac Sensitive, Alimentum, etc) for a year from 2016-2017 and can still tell you lots of things about the different types of formula, what concerns they address, how they’re made, etc.
  12. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
    It would be big enough for a family and guests, but not so big that you don’t use every part of it. It would be near the beach or another vacation-y place so lots of people would come visit. And it would have a nice, open layout that’s good for parties but also has little nooks to read a book in.
  13. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
    A house in Cambridge (cry-laugh emoji).
  14. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
    I think I would own a horse, and maybe some other animals. They take up so much time and are so expensive to keep, but I really love animals and would love to learn to ride.
  15. What are some small things that make your day better?
    Sitting down and eating breakfast with my husband in the morning instead of running off with a thermos of coffee and a protein bar. It makes me feel much more ready for the day.
  16. If you owned a boat, what would you name it and why?
    The Unsinkable 2. It’s a silly joke but it makes me laugh every time.
  17. What irrational fear do you have?
    I really, really, really hate driving. I have a driver’s license but I’d be happy never owning/driving a car again.
  18. What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever seen?
    Holding an egg in my hands while a chick hatched out of it. You want to help them so badly but they need to do it by themselves or their necks won’t be strong enough when they get out. You’re rooting for them so hard and when they finally make it out and start their little “peep peep” noises it’s so, so wonderful.
  19. What job doesn’t exist now but will exist in the future?
    I think in the very near future, some offices will hire dog daycare workers like they do for on-site childcare.
  20. What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
    There’s this goofy Youtube video called History of Japan. I don’t know why but it’s 100% my sense of humor and it gets me every time.

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