Chemistry Graduate Student Sarah Jane Mear describes her research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.
Sarah Jane Mear has been at MIT for four years, and comes to Cambridge from Austin, Texas. As a member of Professor Tim Jamison’s research group, Sarah Jane’s research focuses on method development for synthesis of small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients in the HIV and tuberculosis disease states, and multi-step synthesis in continuous flow.
“I chose to study chemistry simply because I like the subject,” said Sarah Jane. “I never had to work too hard at it, and I like that chemistry can explain everything in our lives, from our medicines to our foods, even our thoughts and emotions. I pursued a PhD because I knew it would help my career, but I’ve stayed because I get to work with fun people that challenge me every day.”
As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Sarah Jane shares the food she craves most often, the movie that always makes her laugh, her irrational fears, and more!
- What are some small things that make your day better?
Uninterrupted sleep. Sunshine. Eating breakfast with my daughter. Having a good hair day. Getting to work without forgetting something at home. Someone stopping by my fume hood to say hi.
- What’s the most interesting documentary you’ve ever watched?
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.
- 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 my own car.
- What food do you crave most often?
- What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
- If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
A needlecrafts museum (embroidery, knitting, sewing, tapestry).
- What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
Best: $5 cover charge for the dance hall where I met my husband. Worst: Plaid Bermuda shorts from Pac Sun in the 7th grade. My mom would take us shopping for school clothes at the end of each summer, and we didn’t get new clothes after that until Christmas. I picked out the shorts because I thought they looked trendy. When I showed up to school I realized that they were tacky and looked terrible on me but I had to wear them anyways. That’s the last time I bought plaid pants.
- What’s worth spending more on to get the best?
- What irrational fear do you have?
Getting bit by a rattlesnake or poisonous spider and dying.
- Where was the most amazing sunset you have ever seen?
Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
- What are you most looking forward to in the next decade?
Not sure, I’ll have to wait and see.
- An epic feast is held in your honor, what’s on the table?
Hot and sour soup, shrimp dumplings, veggie lo mein, moo shu pork, pineapple fried rice, BBQ pork ribs, teriyaki salmon, spicy tuna maki, General Tso’s chicken. Do you sense a theme? Oh, and French macarons for dessert.
- Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
Elizabeth Bennet, Violet Crawley the Dowager Countess of Grantham, and Kim Possible
- What two things are terrible when separate but great when you put them together?
Jazz music and brunch.
- If you could know the truth behind every conspiracy, but you would instantly die if you hinted that you knew the truth, would you want to know?
Of course not. As a scientist I am motivated by things that I don’t know.
- What would be the lineup for you ideal music festival?
Start with Kevin Fowler, then can’t really go wrong from there. Probably end with some Coldplay.
- Where are some unusual places you’ve been?
Climbing inside a lava tube. Swimming in an underground cave. Standing in a waist-high pit of mud. On a mountain covered with rattlesnakes.
- What would be the best thing you could reasonably expect to find in a cave?
- What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
- Who is the most famous person you have met?
Twitch and Janine from So You Think You Can Dance.
Many thanks to Sarah Jane for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!