Chemistry Graduate Student Tony Scott describes his research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.
A New York City native, Tony Scott arrived at MIT in 2017. As a member of the Movassaghi group, he currently researches the total synthesis of complex alkaloids. Tony hopes to develop concise and solutions that mirror nature’s elegant approach in rapidly generating molecular complexity from simple frameworks. He is also interested in applying newfound synthetic access to elucidate the biological properties of our natural product targets.
As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Tony shares his ideal way to spend the weekend, the food he craves most often, the adventure trip he would love to take, and more!
- What random job do you think you’d be really good at?
Personal life coach/motivational speaker.
- What food do you crave most often?
Sushi. -insert groan face emoji-
- What superstition do you believe in?
I don’t really take too much stock in them but I believe that horoscopes can be a useful framework for thinking about personality types (Scorpio here).
- What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
End the work week on a good science note, cook a nice dinner, hang out with friends, tap dance, maybe go to a party (what are those?!), sleep in, repeat.
- What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
We really have more than enough TV channels but if I had to add another: a retro channel that played random selections of news/kids programming/comedy specials/etc from television archives. Could be a fun history lesson and still scratch the mind-numbing itch.
- 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?
Not having a bedtime. Sleep didn’t seem so cool back then.
- Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
Ever since I had a great experience working in a natural products isolation lab in high school, I have been pursuing a general interest in science and a series of positive research rabbit holes that have gratifyingly led to organic synthesis.
- What are your top three favorite movies?
The first three that come to mind are Spirited Away, Get Out, and Parasite.
- What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
Cross-country Amtrak ride, stopping in various cities along the way.
- Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
James Baldwin, Rico Nasty, Haruki Murakami, Rosalind Franklin, Cardi B, Barack Obama.
- Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
- 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?
Internally spacious but externally modest. Exposed brick, central AC, a front porch and a grill in the backyard. Bean bag chairs. Seasonal ivy growing on the windows, plants everywhere, and a pre-installed fully furnished wine cellar.
- What bends your mind every time you think about it?
The fact that our biology is so complex and beautiful and (for the most part) functional… it’s hard to fathom!
- Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
My eight-year-old sister Amanda. She can always create fun and is immune to any sort of existential dread.
- What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
- If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
I have no talent in this arena but it would be really cool to be an influential songwriter. Everyone would know and value my work but I could stay anonymous.
- An epic feast is held in your honor, what’s on the table?
A bottomless salad.
- What would be the scariest monster you could imagine?
An irreproducible chemical reaction.
- What’s something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?
- What job doesn’t exist now but will exist in the future?
Climate change counselor to help each person minimize their own carbon footprint.
Many thanks to Tony for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!