A female graduate student stands in front of a fjord.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Lexie McIsaac

Categories: Students

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

Originally from Milton, Massachusetts, Lexie McIsaac has been at MIT for four and a half years. As a member of Professor Troy Van Voorhis‘ group, Lexie’s research focuses on using electronic structure simulations to understand the excited states of quantum dots, whose interesting emission properties have found uses in solar cells, as well as TV and display pixels, among other things. In particular, the group is working to understand the origin of trap states on the surface of these dots, which play an important role in governing fundamental properties like energy transfer and emission.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Lexie shares the universe she’d least like to live in, the activity she would excel at were it an Olympic sport, the movie she can watch without getting tired of it, and more!

  1. How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
    I became interested in computational chemistry because it allows us to probe things that can’t be studied experimentally, and predict properties about compounds that may not even exist yet!
  2. If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for?
    Making the perfect grilled cheese.
  3. What is your dream car or other mode of transportation?
    I hate driving–my ideal mode of transportation would be a train that services everywhere you could want to go, and is always on time.
  4. If you had a personal flag, what would be on it?
    A kitten.
  5. What weird food combinations do you really enjoy?
    I wouldn’t eat it anymore, but when I was a kid I would put cinnamon sugar in my scrambled eggs.
  6. What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting sick of it?
    Bridget Jones’s Diary.
  7. In ancient Egypt, people were buried with the items they would need in the afterlife – what would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife?
    My phone, plus about a million years worth of battery packs, in case there are no outlets. After a million years, I’m sure I’ll have developed some new, afterlife-specific hobbies.
  8. What is the most unsettling movie or TV show you’ve ever seen?
    I don’t watch much unsettling content, but probably Bones.
  9. What is special about the place you grew up?
    I love the Boston Public Garden–so beautiful in every season.
  10. What brand are you most loyal to?
    At this particular moment in time, Purell! All the other hand sanitizers on the market these days are gross. I never thought I’d have such a strong appreciation for the good stuff.
  11. If you received a salary to follow whatever passion you wanted to, what would you do?
    Making succulent arrangements.
  12. What toy played the biggest part in your childhood, and why?
    Dolls. I’m not sure why, but I loved them!
  13. What is your favorite book of all time?
    It’s a little cliche, but Harry Potter!
  14. Which is your favorite city in the world?
    I don’t know that I have a favorite city, but I recently visited Geneva in Switzerland, and it was so beautiful!
  15. Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
    Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec, Lorelai from Gilmore Girls, and Jane from Jane the Virgin.
  16. What food is delicious, but a pain to eat?
    Chicken wings.
  17. What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
    The video of “I knew you were trouble” by Taylor Swift, with the chorus replaced by a screaming goat.
  18. What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to?
  19. If you were given one thousand acres of land that you didn’t need to pay taxes on but couldn’t sell, what would you do with it?
    Build a roller coaster.
  20. What movie universe would be the worst to live out your life in?
    The Martian.

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