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Graduate Student Spotlight: Rianna Greer

Categories: Students

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

Although Rianna Greer is a third year graduate student, she’s only been at MIT since August 2021, having moved with Professor Danna Freedman from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She is originally from Chillicothe, Illinois. All of Rianna’s current research projects concern the design, synthesis, and study of paramagnetic photoluminescentvanadium(III) complexes as qubit candidates for potential applications in quantum computing and networking. “I’ve been fascinated by chemistry since my sophomore year of high school,” Rianna says. “I thought it would be a fun and interesting challenge to pursue a PhD in the subject.”

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Rianna shares a bit of interesting, yet useless trivia, the best person she can imagine being stuck with in an elevator, the museum she’d build with five million dollars, and more!

  1. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
    Bake, arrange & compose music, practice piano, embroider, knit, & play with my chalk pastels while watching TV.
  1. What bit of trivia do you know that is very interesting but also very useless?
    It had always puzzled me why so many centuries-old musical pieces were entitled things like “Sonata in D Major” or Sonata in F Major” — If you can transpose a musical piece into any key, does the key matter? Most modern Western instruments are tuned in what is called “equal temperament,” essentially meaning that allnotes are separated equally. However, this wasn’t and isn’t always the case, so using different tuning systems (“temperaments”) can separate notes unequally. This means that including the key of the musical piece in its title was, in fact, essential to creating the exact mood of the piece that the composer intended, and could not be changed without singificantly altering the piece.
  1. Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
    Reagan Ridley & Brett Hand from Inside Job, Jessica Day from New Girl.
  1. Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
    My friend and labmate Eric Riesel.
  1. If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
    An interactive science history museum where visitors get to recreate famous experiments!
  1. What are some small things that make your day better?
    The smell of fresh-cut grass, bubble tea, hugs & smiles from my friends and loved ones.
  1. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
    Rudimentary music theory.
  1. If you could have a never-ending candle that smelled like anything you wanted, what fragrance would you want it to be?
    Clean cotton and lavender.
  1. What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?
    As a child, the series Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan. As of now, the novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
  1. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    Professional choir singer.
  1. What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
    The skit ‘Sticky Bun’ from SNL.
  1. What food do you crave most often?
    Sour cream and onion chips.
  1. What is your secret talent?
    ​Painting — but not on canvases. Keychains, T-shirts, coasters, pretty much anything else.
  1. What’s the funniest TV show you’ve ever seen?
    A three-way tie between New Girl, Community, and Superstore.
  1. What is on your bucket list?
    Finish the novel Infinite Jest, knit a sweater, become multilingual, travel to every continent.
  1. 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?
    It would have a room with built-in bookcases, a crafting room, a view of some sort of water, lots of windows, a huge pantry and lots of counter space and basically every kitchen convenience you can think of, and a huge garden of spices & flowers & fruits & vegetables. Also, the house will be extensively outfitted for my cats.
  1. What are your top three favorite movies?
    Parasite, Heathers, We’re the Millers.
  1. What inconsequential super power would you like to have?
    I’d like to consistently grow large high-quality crystals.
  1. Who would be in the lineup for your ideal music festival?
    Florence + the Machine, Panic! At The Disco, Glass Animals, Fall Out Boy, Bastille, Imogen Heap.
  1. Where was the most amazing sunset you have ever seen?
    Mauna Kea.

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