A male graduate student stands in front of a beautiful seaside city view.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Michael Stolberg

Categories: Students

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

Michael Stolberg has been at MIT for 2.5 years, and comes to MIT from Marin County, California. His research with Professor Jeremiah Johnson’s lab is focused on studying polymer electrolytes, in particular geared towards their applications in making safer Lithium-Ion batteries. In addition to Professor Johnson, Michael is co-advised by Professor Yang Shao-Horn in the Department of Materials Science. At the moment, Michael is working on a few different electrolyte related projects – he synthesizes novel polymers and salts, and characterizes their performance through a variety of means. Additionally, he is currently working to bring custom high throughput equipment designed for our groups online. This equipment will greatly increase the group’s research capacity, allowing them to optimize the performance of the electrolytes. They also hope to combine this tool with active machine learning to better understand the underlying chemical descriptors of ion conduction in polymers.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Michael shares what his five-year-old self would do if he found himself in his present day body, the fictional character that would be insufferable to deal with in person, the fashion trend that makes him cringe/laugh, and more!

  1. How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
    I had done some undergraduate research on polymers, and knew I wanted to continue working with them. I also wanted to work on an energy related project, as I believe it is one of the greatest challenges the scientific community and the world is facing at the moment. The project on polymer electrolytes combined both interests well!
  2. If your five-year-old self suddenly found themselves inhabiting your current body, what would your five-year-old self do first?
    Probably go buy lots of Lego sets.
  3. What fictional character is amazing in their book / show / movie, but would be insufferable if you had to deal with them in mundane everyday situations?
    Jon Snow.
  4. What’s the scariest nonhorror movie?
  5. What fashion trend makes you cringe or laugh every time you see it?
    Socks with sandals.
  6. If you lived in a virtual reality world of your own creation, what would it look like?
    At this point, as long as it is warm, sunny, and COVID doesn’t exist I will take it!
  7. If you could airdrop anything you want, worth two million dollars or less, anywhere you want, what would you airdrop and where would you airdrop it?
    I’d airdrop two million dollars from Jeff Bezos’ bank account to mine, he probably wouldn’t even know it was missing.
  8. What’s your favorite holiday movie?
    Die Hard.
  9. What seemingly innocent question makes you think “It’s a trap!”?
    What restaurant do you want to eat at?
  10. What elements of pop culture will be forever tied in your mind to your childhood?
    Classic cartoons, Scooby Doo!, Looney Toons, and of course Spongebob.
  11. If cartoon physics suddenly replaced real physics, what are some things you would want to try?
    Not falling off a cliff until you look down.
  12. What questions would you like to ask a time traveler from 200 years in the future?
    Are there flying cars yet? Have we traveled to other planets? And of course, how long does Covid last?
  13. What’s the most rage inducing game you’ve ever played?
    Catan, whenever I play I have by far the fewest rolls land on my tiles, regardless of their probability. Pretty rage inducing to try and play the game with next to zero resources!
  14. What piece of “art” would you create if you had to pretend to be an artist and submit something to a gallery?
    Dirty Dishes, so I wouldn’t have to do them
  15. What’s the best thing about the place you grew up?
    An abundance of hiking and biking trails in some really beautiful nature.
  16. What would be the worst food to be liquefied and drunk through a straw?
  17. What two films would you like to combine into one?
    Groundhog Day and 50 First Dates, this way it just cancels out for Drew Barrymore.
  18. What are some of your Pavlovian responses?
    Shooting awake when my cat is messing with something in the house.
  19. If animals could talk, which would be the rudest, and why?
    Probably cats, because they could still ignore you, but now it would hurt twice as bad as they could talk, they just choose not to.
  20. If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal for?
    Cooking Spaghetti Bolognese.

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