Sarah Quinn smiles in front of a sunset on a beach.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Sarah Quinn

Categories: Research, Students

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

Sarah Quinn is a fifth year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, and comes to MIT from Wisconsin. Her research in the Shalek Lab focuses on using single-cell RNA sequencing and other adjacent omics techniques to investigate the immune system during health and disease. Sarah’s work applies this to better understand host immune response to HIV during stages of infection and treatment (untreated infection, ART suppression, therapeutic vaccine trials, etc).

“I chose to do a PhD in Chemistry to learn how to tackle seemingly impossible problems and to do research that could sits at the boundary of basic and applied science, allowing the opportunity to advance the field’s knowledge and potentially lead to real world improvements,” said Sarah.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Sarah reveals the film she’d watch on a loop on a 27 hour flight, the game universe in which she’d like to live, the subject she could give a 40 minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation, and more!

  1. If you were on a 27 hour flight and could only watch one movie, what would it be?
    Oceans’ 11.
  2. What game or movie universe would you most like to live in? 
  3. What bit of trivia do you know that is very interesting but also very useless?
    Frank Sinatra died the same day as the Seinfeld series finale aired.
  4. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
    How Game of Thrones fumbled becoming the best TV show of all time.
  5. What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?
  6. If you suddenly became a master at woodworking, what would you make?
    Bookshelf leading to a hidden room.
  7. What is special about the place you grew up?
    The cheese and the most kindhearted people I know.
  8. What did you think you would grow out of but haven’t?
    Picky eating.
  9. If you could have a never-ending candle that smelled like anything you wanted, what fragrance would you want it to be?
    The smell of the air before it rains
  10. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    Archaeologist or blackjack dealer.
  11. What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
    The Pink Panther movies.
  12. Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
    Robert Langdon, Kaz Brekker, and Tyrion Lannister
  13. What sport could you play the longest in a televised game, without anyone discovering you aren’t a professional athlete?
  14. What’s something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?
    Mom calling the neighbor’s landline to tell you it’s time for dinner.
  15. Who is the most famous person you have met?
    Lin Manuel Miranda.
  16. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
    A trip to outer space.
  17. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
    SCUBA Diving.
  18. What inconsequential super power would you like to have?
    Always putting the USB drive in the right direction.
  19. Where was the most amazing sunset you have ever seen?
    Rialto Beach in Washington.
  20. What problem or situation did TV / movies make you think would be common, but when you grew up you found out it wasn’t?