A male graduate student plays a ukelele in front of a cake with a lit candle on it.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Jacob Rodriguez

Categories: Students

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

Jacob Rodriguez has been at MIT for two years (and one month!) and comes from Littleton, Colorado. He works in the Buchwald and Pentelute labs exploring bioconjugation methods using palladium oxidative addition complexes (OACs). Palladium OACs react rapidly with thiols in water at room temperature, making them ideal for protein bioconjugation of canonical cystine residues. Using recently developed techniques, Jacob and his labmates have generated and isolated palladium OACs covalently bound to proteins. These protein OACs, too, rapidly react with thiols, and currently he is exploring reactions with alternative nucleophiles with the intention of generating novel protein-polymer conjugates.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Jacob shares the guests at his ideal dinner party, the house he’d build with unlimited funds, the hobby he’d get into if time and money weren’t an issue, and more!

  1. What random job do you think you’d be really good at?
    YouTube pseudointellectual rhetorician.
  2. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
    The world as will and representation.
  3. What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
    Emotionally fulfilled.
  4. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
    I was surprised to find out that DIRECTV only has around ~330 channels. I think a channel 3000 should exist with no content on any channels in-between. After this long journey to channel 3000, the viewer should be met with a big payoff: video clips of all their loved ones saying “congratulations.”
  5. What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
    I’m pretty excited to see how Canada will navigate being in charge of the Northwest Passage when a lot more ice melts.
  6. Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
    I’m always impressed by the influence of Slavoj Žižek despite his obscenity in speech and often-stained t-shirt.
  7. Who is the most famous person you have met?
    Either David MacMillan or Stephen Buchwald. I’m not sure who is more famous.
  8. Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
    I think making decisions and pursuing projects helps establish a kind of freedom In your life. I’m nervous that this could lead to being a self-made person (creation of character), but I think it’s necessary to be intentional.
  9. What are your top three favorite movies?
    I like Evangelion EoE. I think a lot of movies by Lars von Trier are pretty fun. I recently watched and was pretty moved by 2001: A Space Odyssey, especially when (spoiler) the robot was killed.
  10. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
    Assuming the people could be non-living: I would like to see what Jesus of Nazareth, Saul of Tarsus, and Augustine of Hippo would talk about. Any disagreements would be very cool.
  11. Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
    John Cage.
  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?
    With unlimited funds? My home would be an underground superbase that spans the continent of Antarctica. Nobody would live there—not even me, but I would tell people my other place is an underground superbase spanning the continent of Antarctica. They might laugh, but I would laugh harder knowing it’s true and someone gave me unlimited funds to make it true.
  13. What bends your mind every time you think about it?
    Antimaterialism. Specifically immaterialism.
  14. Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
    Elevator repair person. Hah! Just kidding.
  15. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
    Not an issue materially or ethically? If neither, corporate lobbying. If ethically, bug collecting. If materially, bug photography (with a very nice camera)
  16. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    Any career regardless of qualifications/talent? Probably some kind of artist. With regards to qualification/talent? Probably teaching young ones.
  17. What is the most annoying habit that other people have?
    I think I don’t like when people sip their drinks with food in their mouth. I know that they are entitled to sip their own drink irrespective of the amount of food in their mouth, but knowing that they are putting floaties in their drink that they will drink again later makes me uneasy.
  18. What skill would you like to master?
  19. What have you only recently formed an opinion about?
    Death and the lie of character.
  20. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
    Dental insurance.

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