A headshot of a smiling man.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Kunal Lodaya

Categories: Students

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

Kunal Lodaya is finishing up his first year as a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, and he came to MIT from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His research in Professor Yogesh Surendranath’s group uses electrochemical methods to describe reactions that are thermochemical in nature (i.e. not involving oxidation or reduction external to the system). The basic idea is simple: they break down reactions (oxidation and hydrogenation reactions of organic substrates) into two half-reactions. Those half-reactions each involve external electron transfer, and we can probe them individually with electrochemistry. From there, the group can use what we learn about the half-reactions to answer questions about mechanism, catalyst-substrate and substrate-substrate interactions, or even new materials design.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Kunal shares his top three favorite movies, his favorite books, the popular item people are obsessed with but he just doesn’t get the point of, and more!

  1. What random job do you think you’d be really good at?
  2. What food do you crave most often?
  3. Would you rather have an unlimited international first class ticket or never have to pay for food at restaurants? 
    Definitely not paying for food!
  4. What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend? 
    Playing basketball or video games with friends, then cooking a good meal.
  5. Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
    Pacha from the Emperor’s New Groove, Abed from Community, and Remus Lupin.
  6. What smell brings back great memories? 
    My mom’s kitchen.
  7. Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
    My grandpa; he worked as a truck driver in India and saved the money to put his seven children through college.
  8. As a child, what did you think would be awesome about being an adult, but isn’t as awesome as you thought it would be?
    Driving (mostly because of traffic).
  9. What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of? 
  10. What are your top three favorite movies? 
    Dinner for Schmucks, Good Will Hunting, The Dark Knight.
  11. What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now? 
    As a child, either Eragon or Harry Potter. Now, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.
  12. What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience for the first time again? 
    The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
  13. What bends your mind every time you think about it?
    P Chem.
  14. What would be the best vacation to take? 
    I would love to go to New Zealand.
  15. What is on your bucket list? 
    Visiting the Grand Canyon.
  16. What is your favorite four-legged creature? 
  17. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be? 
  18. What’s something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?
    Sending relatives post cards/physical letters.
  19. If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make? ​
    Drink enough water every day!
  20. What are some small things that make your day better?
    Eating lunch with my labmates, biking in nice weather, cooking​

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