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Graduate Student Spotlight: Rena Ren

Categories: Students

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

Rena Ren comes to MIT from Nanjing, China, and joined the department in the Fall of 2019. Her research under the guidance of Professor Xiao Wang focuses on developing in situ sequencing method to map the brain and other tissues by visualizing the spatial patterns of single-cell gene expression and epitranscriptomic features. She is especially interested in developing better chemical tools for multiplexed molecular imaging with higher resolution and scale. Rena hopes their method can be utilized in the future as a way to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Schizophrenia from both molecular and cellular perspectives, as well as provide a better understanding of brain function.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Rena shares the random job she’d most enjoy, the superstition she believes in, her top three favorite movies, and more!

  1. What random job do you think you’d be really good at?
    I would really enjoy being a freelance composer and singer, although I’m not sure if I will be good at that 😊
  2. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
    I can probably give a 40-minute presentation on my current research with no preparation. Other than my research, I also enjoy talking about my favorite books, music, and contemporary art.
  3. What superstition do you believe in?
    We are all in a fate that we cannot completely control.
  4. What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
    My ideal way to spend the weekend will be waking up naturally in the sunlight, making a great brunch, listening to some good music and catching up with my friends and families.
  5. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
    Maybe a channel about the views of the purpose of life from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, or a channel about the cutting-edge technologies and their potential influence on people’s lives and the societies.
  6. What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
    I’m looking forward to doing more research, exploring new ideas and creating more knowledge to the scientific community.
  7. Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
    My mother has impressed me most because of her unceasing resilience and optimism toward challenges and difficulties in her life.
  8. What movie or book do you know the most quotes from?
    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. It gives me a lot of ideas and food for thought.
  9. Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
    I’m doing this research because I got excited about Professor Xiao Wang’s scientific insights and ideas, and I would like to explore them and develop my own ideas in the future.
  10. What are your top three favorite movies?
    Forrest Gump, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and The Legend of 1900.
  11. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
    Probably a trip to outer space is the most amazing adventure to me.
  12. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
    BTS, Yuval Noah Harari, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Meryl Streep, Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie
  13. 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?
    A modest house enough for 2-3 people with bucolic decorations, relaxing personal space and a convenient location.
  14. What bends your mind every time you think about it?
    What’s the meaning of life and how our own perception shapes the way we think about the world.
  15. Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
    A friend who will laugh with me when we get stuck in an elevator.
  16. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    A professional songwriter and singer.
  17. What is the most annoying habit that other people have?
    Talking too much or too little.
  18. What skill would you like to master?
    The ability to detect lies or subtle mood changes of others.
  19. What have you only recently formed an opinion about?
    Meal prepping is actually a good idea.
  20. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
    Renting a 1b1b apartment alone in Cambridge.

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