Jessica Patrick smiles in front of a tree along a river.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Jessica Patrick

Categories: Students

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

Jessica Patrick is originally from Prospect, Connecticut, and has been at MIT for three years. Her research in the Shoulders Lab centers around understanding how viruses evolve in response to host cell protein folding factors, and in particular, the impact these host cell machineries have on a virus’s ability to evade the adaptive immune system.

“I chose to pursue a PhD in chemistry because I love to take on challenges and do difficult things,” said Jessica. “I found that chemistry was really neat because you get to solve puzzles all the time, and biochemistry lets you apply those solutions to understand (and maybe even improve) some aspect of life in general.”

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Jessica reveals the name she’d give a hypothetical boat, the contents of her Bucket List, the most beautiful sunsets she’s witnessed, and more!

  1. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
    I’d probably be a bartender. I’d love to meet tons of people, eavesdrop on conversations, and make good money in tips. But I go to bed too early for that.
  2. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
    10 days spent exploring the Canadian Rockies.
  3. What are some small things that make your day better?
    Nice cool and sunny weather, a great workout, splurging on coffee from a café, good snacks.
  4. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
    Hiking (and sight-seeing) in the White Mountains.
  5. What is special about the place you grew up?
    Besides being “The Best Small Town in Connecticut”, our mayor is the longest serving elected official in Connecticut (serving 21 terms!)
  6. What irrational fear do you have?
    Sharks! I used to have nightmares about sharks and would have to reassure myself that I live on land. Oh, and kidney stones.
  7. If you could have a never-ending candle that smelled like anything you wanted, what fragrance would you want it to be?
    Desert sage (in particular, the air in Independence, California).
  8. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    Well I certainly haven’t picked a career yet, but being a tattoo artist would be a neat career.
  9. Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
    I lived in Death Valley during the summer so I’d call that interesting.
  10. What food do you crave most often?
    Definitely chocolate.
  11. What are you most looking forward to in the next decade?
    Not being a student anymore and (maybe) being an adult, more financial freedom, moving out of the city, experiencing a lot more life!
  12. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
    1980’s classic Land Rover Defender, modified to be completely adventure ready: roof rack, ladder, snorkel, brushbar, lifted frame, and Kevlar coated tires.
  13. What is on your bucket list?
    My bucket list is just a list of hikes I haven’t done yet
  14. 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?
    Big windows looking out into a beautiful view (preferably mountains and maybe a lake), lots of wood paneling inside, at LEAST an hour drive from the nearest grocery store/city, home gym in the basement (nothing fancy, just power rack and free weights), house set back from the road on a long driveway, maybe even a covered bridge over the driveway, double sink in the kitchen, and plenty of counterspace.
  15. What bends your mind every time you think about it?
    I have no idea how digital cameras work. How can you the thing you see in real life end up saved on your phone?
  16. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
    Through hike the Appalachian Trail. (Stay tuned after graduation…)
  17. What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
    Friday night cook dinner with a few close friends or my partner, Saturday go on a long trail run, eat some good food, maybe get some household chores done and grocery shop, meet up with friends for a party or go bar hopping, Sunday hiking all day, complete with a delicious meal at the end. Honestly that’s how I spend most weekends actually…
  18. Where are some unusual places you’ve been?
    I’ve slept in my car in some pretty odd places to be close to trailheads, and stumbled around through some bizarre ghost towns and old mining ruins in the desert
  19. Where was the most amazing sunset you have ever seen?
    I’ve seen a lot of memorable and moving sunsets, but one that sticks out is a night I spent in the Mojave Desert camping among a bunch of Joshua trees. The sky was the brightest of pinks, oranges, and yellows and the colors seemed to last forever. Probably most important was that there was not a single person around for dozens of miles so I had this whole beautiful show that the earth was displaying all to myself.
  20. If you owned a boat, what would you name it and why?
    “The Road Jess Traveled” I love puns, and boats don’t go on roads​.