Category Archives: Uncategorized

Finishing That Pesky Dissertation

Written by Brenna Gormally, Biology Ph.D. student

Graduate school — and in particular Ph.D. Programs — are strange because at times you feel like there is an indefinite amount of work to do and that you might just be in school forever. But at the same time, that feeling of permanence can be comforting. Once I settled into my routine, Tufts became my home and I’ve loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. And with that comes a whole bunch of emotions — the excitement for the next step, the sadness for leaving my Tufts community, and the stress of finishing degree requirements.

I am currently right in that sweet spot. Over the summer, I had the good fortune to accept a postdoctoral fellowship which will begin in early 2020. That means that I get the opportunity to finish my Ph.D. Without the added pressure of finding a job. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my success in finding a job is a testament to the experiences I’ve been afforded at Tufts. Not only did I receive world class mentorship, but the professional development opportunities (Graduate Institute for Teaching and the NOD Workshops) helped me hone my marketable skills. I am incredibly excited for my next step, but over the next few months I have a LOT to take care of — namely finishing all that writing. I’ve decided to give you some of my tips for getting down to business and finishing that pesky dissertation.

1. Schedule, schedule, schedule

I cannot overstate the importance of planning. When I have a lot of projects going on, it sometimes seems easier to just do things and be productive. When all you have to do is writing, it can be difficult to focus. Staring at a blank page and thinking about how you have to ill it up is… daunting. I have found that the best way to avoid this feeling of desperation is to have realistic, scheduled goals. Focusing on one section in the morning and one section in the afternoon has helped me not get bored with the material and continue progressing.

2. Write in different places

Although I love my desk, sometimes you need a change of scenery. Luckily, there are at least 5 different coffee shops within a 10 minute walk of campus. My favorite coffee shop for writing is Tamper: it’s nice and quiet, serves delicious food, and offers beer options for later in the day. I’m also a huge fan of working in Tisch Library. There’s something about being surrounded by stressed out undergraduates that motivates you to get your own work done. By switching up my physical writing space, I have been able to make progress even when it doesn’t feel like it.

3. Get the blood pumping

Most people know that when you are stressed, making time for physical exercise is crucial. This becomes even more important when you’re writing your dissertation, which should be a marathon and not a spring. I try to make time and head down to the Tisch Fitness Center or go on a run along the Charles River. These are great opportunities to clear your head, which always helps with writing.

4. Don’t forget to have fun!

Most importantly, I think, is remembering that writing your dissertation should have some elements of fun. This can be the hardest task, because you’ve spent years in your program and you might feel jaded with your topic. But after all, these will be the final months of your time at Tufts. For me, it has been the perfect opportunity to reflect and remember where my passions first began. Tufts has been a fantastic chapter of my life that I will remember fondly.

Ready-to-Use Advanced English Learning Tips

Written by Amanda Wang, Innovation and Management M.S.I.M. student

I still remember my first day as a Graduate student at Tufts: doing self-introductions with my 33 classmates in M.S. Innovation and Management, which to me was something way outside of my comfort zone. Despite almost 20 years training in English and a decent TOEFL score, I could not even do a self-intro with confidence and fluency.

One year later after the orientation, I no longer have to organize sentences in my mind several times before I start speaking. Looking back, I wish I could have known some of the ways to improve my oral English before I came to the States. This is how I got the idea for this blog: to help my peers consider multiple ways to improve their English speaking. I picked four of the most important rules that I found essential. You do not have to follow what I suggest here, as they can be very personal experiences that may not apply to everyone. However, hopefully you can still find something that ‘clicks’ for you, and figure out your own magical way!

Rule #1. Mistakes ≠ Failures

Yeah, I still make mistakes sometimes, but after all, I am not a native speaker, so it is totally fine. Being afraid of making mistakes is due to our high self-consciousness: ‘I MUST sound like a dumb person.’ Let’s take a step back from this scenario – have you ever talked to a non-native speaker of your mother tongue? Did you think in the same way about them as you imagined people would think about you before talking in English? No, because we tend to overthink that we are ‘being judged.’ Therefore, keep in mind that making mistakes is very natural. Plus, do not feel embarrassed if someone kindly points out your mistakes – that actually helps you improve way faster!

Rule #2. Talk, talk, talk

This sounds like a nonsense: how can I keep talking when I am not THAT good at talking? Or after all, I am an introvert. I don’t even enjoy talking to people endlessly using my native language. Why do I have to do that?

The best way to learn a language is to live in an environment where you have to use that language to live. Now you are a student in a university in the United States, which means you have the perfect opportunity to practice. Try to speak up in the class, talk to your professors and peers, or greet the barista you meet every morning. It is not difficult at all if you follow Rule #1. Being an introvert, I finally realized that ‘introvert’ means that you spend energy when you gather with a group of people, like at a party, but you can still want to do small talks. Lower your ego, don’t be too self-conscious, and start the chat. The merit of talking is that you also gain input from other people, so your brain will pick up some colloquial expressions and turn them into your output in no time. Talk is a great and easy way to learn new terms, as you do not have to memorize a vocab list.

Rule #3. Build a real network

Sometimes, becoming an international student also means you left most of your old friends at home. Do not let loneliness in a new place overwhelm you. Instead, build a real network here so that you really feel like part of the community. How is this related to language skills? First, you have more chance to talk, as said in Rule #2. Second, you can talk about the things that you have a real interest in, make new good friends, and enrich your life experiences.

At the same time, as you naturally catch up with people in your network, you will feel that your feet are more to the ground, and more confident because you are more an insider of life here. I tried to catch up with my professors, mentors, and friends this summer, and I can feel that I am improving again. More specific to English skills, I also get to know people’s interests and passions, and opportunities keep popping up during conversations. If you’re not sure how to start the networking, check graduate school calendar and go to events to add people to your network!

Rule #4. Reading and writing as a daily routine

You are being educated, and you want to speak intelligently. Sometimes, small talk seems to be fine, but what if you have a presentation or interview coming up? My suggestion is to benefit from reading and writing, and make it a habit. In the Tisch Library Tower Café, you can find all kinds of magazines and newspapers to keep yourself updated. Or simply download some news apps (FYI: all Tufts students have access to the New York Times through the Tisch Library). Do you have some novels written by American authors that you liked when you were a child? Find the English version and re-read it in English, you will remember better as you have the scenes in memory. The ability to generate pictures while using a language helps internalize the language and apply it quickly when you speak.

Like listening and speaking, reading and writing are great companions. I have honed my English skills by being a blogger at Tufts Graduate Blog. Writing as a practice gives me the time to organize my thoughts in a logical way, and thinking in English while writing is a ‘double language drill’ for both speaking and writing. I am always talking to myself in English while writing, and so both things become natural gradually.

To sum up, make the most out of your graduate journey at Tufts, and always be confident as you are already a bilingual person (yay!). As you practice, you will see a door to a broader world opening in front you.

M – Beach – T – A

Written by Ece Gulsan, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. student

After a long (actually very long) winter, the sunshine we have been looking forward to finally came. I still remember the first day of snow last November. I was thrilled and excited, but I did not know that the massive pile of snow would stay with us until late March! I almost forgot what the campus looked like without that white puffy layer.

And then it was 80 degrees outside.

Sun was up. The weather was hot and humid. 

Jumbos, we made it. Summer came!

We still have a few hot weekends left to spend on a beach and work on our tans. There are plenty of beaches around which are accessible by MBTA, and all you need to do is to get a Charlie Card and hop on a train. Today, I am going to share my favorite beaches in the area, and what you should know before you head to them, or to bookmark for future exploration.

Tufts Boathouse at Upper Mystic Lake

My top choice is obvious for seasoned Jumbos, but if you are new to Tufts, you will be surprised by this beautiful hidden gem near campus. Located at 481 Mystic Valley Pkwy in Medford, Tufts Boathouse has two docks by the tranquil Mystic Lake with a gorgeous view. Bring your own picnic to spend the day, and if you have more time, stay longer to enjoy the sunset. The best part is you do not have to worry about entrance fee because it is all free!

Directions:Take the Bus 80 or 94 from campus towards upper Medford for a 30-minute ride, or bike there in 15 minutes. You can even walk in less than 45 minutes. I personally enjoy adding it to my morning run because it is super close to the campus. 

Singing Beach at Manchester-by-the-Sea

If you need a “real beach”: the smell of ice-cold salty water and the warmth of a golden sand under your feet, Singing Beach is the place to go. The beach is located in the beautiful town Manchester-by-the-Sea, home of the very famous movie and the bookstore with the same name. The entrance fee to the beach is $7 for the day. There are also plenty of dining options in town. 

Visit Cala’sfor their fresh fish tacos accompanied by a glass of slushy margarita. If you are in the mood for a more casual lunch, grab a delicious wood fired pizza to-go from Bravo-by-the-Sea and enjoy your meal on the beach. Do not forget to visit Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream Shopfor a sweet treat on your way back home. 

Directions: Hop on the Rockport Commuter Rail Line from North Station to Manchester. The beach is 10 minutes walking distance from the train station. The MBTA offers an unlimited commuter rail weekend pass for only $10, which means you do not have to worry about paying for a round trip! If you leave early, you can even get to visit other towns (like Gloucester or Newburyport) on your way to Manchester, or you can take advantage of your weekend pass the day after by paying a short visit to Salem!  

Front Beach and Back Beach at Rockport

Although it is not as isolated as Singing Beach, Front Beach offers a sandy shore with restaurants nearby. It is a perfect place to just lie down and spend the day under the sun. Alternatively, Back Beach has a more “sportive” vibe, which is the reason why I love that place. It is a hub for New England Scuba Divers. If you are a licensed Scuba Diver, you can join one of the diving communities in the area for their next “Scallop Hunt Dive” or “Lobster Discovery Dive.” If you do not have a diving certification, but want to have get one, there are many certified diving schools in the city. The summer is the best time to join to explore the marine life and you’ll have one more excuse to visit a beach on weekends! Plus, if you can dive in the ice-cold New England water, you can dive literally anywhere in the world. 

Directions: The Rockport Commuter Rail Line from North Station will take you to Rockport. The beaches are approximately half mile away from the station. Do not forget to visit the city before you head to the beach!

My Favorite Class at Tufts

Written by Alia Wulff, Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. student

I have completed my fourth semester here at Tufts and have taken nine classes. Every single one of those classes had unique insights and learning experiences that make them impossible to compare. So I’m afraid the title of this blog post, “My Favorite Class at Tufts,” is basically just clickbait. I can’t pick a favorite class. It would be like making me choose a favorite between chocolate chip cookies, waterslides, and cute videos of unlikely animal friends. How could I choose between things that are so different and all so amazing?

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to write about. I may not have a specific class, but there certain factors that I look for when planning my class schedule. The first of these factors that affects my enjoyment of a class is my comfort with class discussion. This is really important in graduate school specifically, as most (if not all) classes are seminars. Even for the classes that aren’t seminars, it is important that the students are able to comfortably ask questions and interact with others in front of the class. My public speaking anxiety has gone down since entering graduate school, but it is still nerve-wracking to voice an opinion in front of a group of people. Anything that lessens that anxiety helps me to find my voice and engage directly with others’ ideas and opinions.

Secondly, I find direct application to be really important. Whether it is to my research, my teaching ability, or even my life, being able to apply the information I learn to my own experiences is really important. Being able to get something out of the class beyond a grade is an essential part of keeping the class relevant.

Finally, it is really important that I’m interested in spending 13+ weeks discussing the topic. This seems like a no-brainer, but it actually is more important than I expected. My undergraduate colleges were on a quarter system, so our classes took a max of 10 weeks. Going back to a semester system like I had in high school, feels like a big jump. Making sure the classes can engage my interest for such a long period of time is an important factor when I make my schedule. If there is a subject you want to learn about but don’t want to spend a whole semester studying, check if you can sit in on a few of the more pertinent classes or find a related workshop or talk you could attend.

I have a pretty good system to assess these factors ahead of time when registering for classes. It’s very easy if the class is in my department. I generally know the professor and their teaching style. I know the people taking the class or can ask around until I find them. I might even know people who have taken the class in the past and can give me information from a student’s perspective if needed. This is probably the main reason why I haven’t taken any classes I haven’t enjoyed at Tufts: I spend time making sure the class is pertinent and interesting before registering. 

It does get trickier when the class is in a separate department. I have only taken one outside of my department. The course was designed to be cross-discipline and therefore other members of my lab had taken it, so I didn’t have to do too much investigating. If your program involves a lot more interdisciplinary classes you may have to do more research to ensure the class is a good fit, but it will be worth it. One of the perks of graduate school is you don’t have to go through two years of “trying classes out” before finding an area you actually enjoy. 

You may have heard that classes don’t matter in graduate school. This is not true at all, at least in my case. While research is important and takes more time, every class I have taken so far has directly led to me being a better graduate student and researcher. Taking care with my class schedule and making sure I will benefit from every class I take is essential to my learning. Take classes seriously and you will receive serious benefits, I promise!

My Favorite Spots on Campus

Written by Alia Wulff, Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. student

I originally titled this “My Favorite Spot on Campus”, but then I just couldn’t narrow down my list to only one space. That is because of one simple fact: Boston weather is the least stable thing in the world. Honestly. I come from one of the rainiest states in the United States. There is a rainforest, a desert, a mountain range, multiple lakes, and over 150 miles of ocean shoreline, all with wildly different weather systems. I always thought Washington State was a weather marvel. But Boston weather makes Washington weather seem boring. For example: over a single period of three days in April I wore my huge puffy jacket with leggings under my pants, then shorts and a tank top, and finally a t-shirt with jeans. Non-meteorologists have no hope of preparing for the weather unless you were born here. That is all to say that my favorite spot on campus changes from hour to hour depending on what it is like outside, so I decided to include spots for every weather situation.

When it’s slightly drizzly without being too cold:

I love a gentle rain. Just enough to cool down the pavement and water the plants, but not enough to paste my hair to my head and soak through my jeans. This type of weather is ideal for heading to the graduate student lounge in Curtis Hall, as it’s not quite rainy enough to give you an excuse to stay in your office all day but also not nice enough to go outside for an extended period of time. There you can buy a snack, microwave your lunch, and then settle down onto a cozy couch to work for a few hours.

When it is pouring rain outside:

This is the weather that is rainy enough to give you an excuse to stay in your office all day. Therefore, when it’s raining so hard that my water-resistant coat is basically equivalent to a thin sweater, my office is my favorite spot. I have spent time making sure my desk has things on it that make me happy, like notes from my family, pictures, and little fidget toys. Listening to the rain while drinking a cup of tea, snuggled in my blanket, and getting some good writing in is honestly one of my favorite things.

When there is snow on the ground:

While I dislike the snow, I will admit that it is beautiful. So while I’m not going to make a concerted effort to go out in the snow, I do make note of the particularly beautiful visuals when it snows. My favorite spot when there is snow is the front lawn by the Memorial Steps. The beautiful old iron fence and brick buildings look so regal against the snow-covered ground and spindly trees. It is a good reminder that snow is not all bad.

When the sun is out and it’s too hot to be outside:

It can get really hot here. To be fair, I am a delicate flower who can’t stand temperatures above 70°F, but I think it’s not too presumptuous to say 90°F is pushing it for almost everyone. When this happens, I like to go into the Science and Engineering Complex, order an iced drink or smoothie from the café, and sit in the atrium. It has a ton of windows, so you can still enjoy the sunshine, but the temperature-controlled air and plethora of seating options means you can still enjoy your day.

When it’s a breezy and sunshiny day in March/April:

This is a very specific situation and there is a very specific spot on campus associated with it. Along the Memorial Steps sprout hundreds of daffodils and trees that grow pink flowers during this time. Sitting on the cement border of the stairs, feeling the breeze and enjoying the flowers, is an ideal way to spend a few minutes on a beautiful spring day. Not everyone likes plants or the sunshine or even the outdoors but stopping to appreciate beautiful details like these always puts a spring in my step. 

Effective Communication: How to create a working relationship with your advisor

Written by Michael Ruiz, Bioengineering M.S. 2020

We often find ourselves isolated in books and papers while in graduate school. It is easy to forget how to communicate effectively or openly with other people, but the one person you need to communicate effectively with is your advisor. I encourage graduate students to foster a culture of open and effective communication with their advisor. In my experience, communicating effectively with my academic advisor is one of the most important factors which will determine my success and happiness in my graduate education. 

The first step towards developing an effective communication strategy is to define a set of ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ from your program. This may seem like a daunting task, but it will help you later down the road when you want to translate your experience from your coursework, group projects, thesis projects, and experiments into transferrable skills to list on your resume. 

Ask yourself questions like: “After I graduate, what is my ideal job?” and “What skills will I need to be successful in that role?”. These are difficult questions to ask, but it’s important to take the time and think it out. As a result of this practice, I was able to adopt more open and effective communication methods with not only myself, but with my advisor. These methods have contributed to success within my graduate program. The more independent you become, and the easier you make it for your advisor to support you by communicating your wants and needs, the better your relationship will be. By becoming more self-sufficient in your graduate program, you will become more prepared for your future career.

In a culture of effective communication, it is important to be direct. It is essential to focus on work-related issues and state the objective realities that concerns you. Clarify your thoughts about the situation, and why it bothers you. Are you concerned that your project is not being completed properly?  Is it taking too long?  Is it too expensive?  Is it difficult to get along with someone else on the project? Explain what your goals are and how you would like the situation to be resolved. Before the meeting, plan out your thoughts and ideas to make the most of your time.

As students, we can sometimes forget that professors are busy people. Most of them teach, serve on committees, write grant requests, travel to conferences, and mentor graduate students. While problems with your research and coursework are central to you, they are only one of the many items on your professor’s radar. This makes effective communication central to a working relationship with them. If you feel stuck in your research or academic work or the writing of a paper or manuscript, then it is time to utilize your effective communication skills and schedule a meeting with your advisor.

Why Tufts?

Recently, we asked our graduate students why they chose Tufts. Check out this multi-part blog series, in which we explore the journeys of our #TuftsGrad students and the paths they took to Tufts University.

Why Ece Chose Tufts

‘If you want to strengthen your skills and improve your scientific knowledge, be challenged to become an independent researcher and work with awesome people, Tufts is the place.’

Why Amanda Chose Tufts

‘Tufts is the best place to improve myself, to find my path, and to make real changes in the future. If I could make the decision again, Tufts would still be my choice. ‘

Why Michael Chose Tufts

‘Ultimately, I made my decision to attend Tufts School of Engineering based on two important economic factors: proximity to the Boston biotechnology ecosystem and the earning potential in the Boston area.’

Why Alia Chose Boston (and Tufts!)

‘So it wasn’t until I was finally in my apartment, lying on a yoga mat and bemoaning the lack of central air, that I realized that I was finally there. Boston was my home for the next five years.’

Why Alexandra Chose Tufts

‘I always feel as if professors are interested in hearing from me, helping me, and maybe even learning from me. Doors are always open.’

Why Ellen Chose Tufts

‘As someone who entered school psychology from a completely different field (finance), I feel confident that one day I will be ready to step into my future profession as a school psychologist.’

Why Rachael Chose Tufts

‘There are two main reasons why I chose Tufts: collaboration and community.’

Why Vasanth Chose Tufts

‘There are so many more reasons I like Tufts, and I cannot do justice in a short blog post, but one takeaway is that being both a nurturing liberal arts school and competitive research institution, Tufts affords some great opportunities to do good work, grow in your career, and remain happy while doing so.’

Why Jiali Chose Tufts

‘People have plenty of chance to invest in friendships and intellectual connection and graduate students are treated as peers by the faculty and staff.’

Why Lennon Chose Tufts

‘I remember thinking how lucky I was to be in a place where people were so passionate about their subjects and eager to help others find their own.’

“Checking Out” What’s On Offer at the Tufts Libraries

Written by Ruaidhri Crofton, History & Museum Studies M.A. 2020

As a graduate student at Tufts, it is a given that a lot of your time will be spent studying, writing papers, and preparing for classes throughout the semester. Although you will find that there are an ample number of resources to help you adequately prepare for everything you will be up against during your time as a graduate student, I have found that there’s no place quite like the Tufts Libraries. In all there are four libraries on the Medford/Somerville and SMFA campuses available for student use: W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Library at SMFA, Ginn Library at the Fletcher School, the Lilly Music Library in the Granoff Music Center, and of course Tisch Library. That being said, these spaces offer a lot more than just a quiet place to study or find books for your next assignment. Below are a few of my favorite resources available to students through the Tufts Library system. There is so much to offer at all of these libraries, making them well worth a visit! 

Study Space

Of course, what would a library be without space for studying, reading, and generally getting some work done? All four libraries provide ample space to allow you to study in almost any way at almost any time. Need to get a project done with friends? No problem! Reserve a group study room so you’re not worried about distracting others. Looking for a relaxed work environment that also has snacks? Try the Tower Cafe in Tisch Library! Need to cram for a last-minute deadline? Late night study from 1:00 AM to 3:00 AM has you covered! Personally, I find the quiet study areas among the book stacks to be where I’m able to focus and work most productively. Regardless of how or when you like to get your work done, at least one of the libraries will be a good place to turn to when many other places on campus may be closed or just not the right fit for you.

Digital Collections and Archives

Located in the Tisch Library, the Digital Collections and Archives (DCA) are home to the university’s extensive holdings of archival materials. These collections contain objects related to the history of the university, as well as a wide variety of other topics including the history of medicine, broadcast journalism, and more! Among the more unique items held in the collections are Tufts student protest posters from the 1970s, ancient scarabs, and even the tail of the university’s mascot: Jumbo the elephant. DCA is open Monday to Friday for use by students and other researchers to uncover a little bit more about the history of Tufts and beyond! Visit the Digital Collections & Archives website for more information.

Digital Design Studio

Tucked away on the third floor of the Tisch Library, the Digital Design Studio (DDS) is your go to resource for all things digital media. Whether you need to produce a video, create a website, design and print a poster, record an audio narration, or even do some 3D printing, the DDS has you covered. The studio is equipped with multimedia workstations, a recording room, and even a green screen, making work on any sort of digital project a breeze. If all of this sounds great but you don’t quite know how you would ever go about utilizing this great resource, not to worry! The DDS offers online tutorials for everything from using equipment to creating credits for your work. They even have their own in-house “Digital Design Expert” to help you out. Check out the Tisch Library website for more information. 

Boston Library Consortium and Interlibrary Loan

Although the combined collections of the four libraries may seem to have every title and piece of information you could ever need or imagine, there are still plenty of books and documents that fall outside the scope of the university’s holdings. That’s where the Boston Library Consortium (BLC) and interlibrary loans come in handy. By submitting a request for a book or article using interlibrary loan, you can have almost any item you may need from other institutions around the world delivered directly to you at Tufts! Tufts is also part of the BLC with 18 other area institutions, which allows you to check out books at other school libraries with a BLC card. Between all of these resources, you won’t ever have to worry about not being able to get your hands on that specific source you need to make your research project perfect! Find out more about interlibrary loan.

Workshops and Support Services

If all of this information sounds exciting but also daunting, not to worry! The libraries also offer a variety of workshops and other support services to help students put these great library resources to use. Workshops cover everything from research methods, citations, and writing skills to database usage, media design, and more! A wonderful team of librarians and other support staff are also on hand to provide one-on-one assistance on any of these topics. In fact, each department is assigned its own librarian who can provide assistance tailored to the individual needs and challenges of research in that field. I can personally attest to the fact that the Tufts librarians are a fantastic help and a lot of fun to work with so don’t hesitate to reach out with questions

Now, all of this only begins to scratch the surface of the exciting stuff going on within the Tufts Libraries. For more information, visit the library website or visit a library and start “checking things out” for yourself. Happy exploring!

Why Alia Chose Boston (and Tufts!)

In this multi-part blog series, we will be exploring why current #TuftsGrad students chose to pursue their graduate education at Tufts University. Today, we hear from Alia Wulff, Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. student, in part 4 of our ‘Why Tufts?’ series.

Written by Alia Wulff, Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. student

When I was in high school my favorite show was Leverage. The characters in that show moved to Boston in the second season and stayed there for three years. For some reason, the location stuck with me. I fell in love with the brick buildings and the old-world charm. I enjoyed listening to the accents and seeing the strange combination of historic architecture and modern skyscrapers. I decided that I would enjoy living in Boston, and if I ever had the chance I would move there.

Fast forward about seven years and I was accepted to Tufts, a school only minutes away from the heart of Boston. I was so stressed by the challenge of moving that I barely thought about my high school dream. So it wasn’t until I was finally in my apartment, lying on a yoga mat and bemoaning the lack of central air, that I realized that I was finally there. Boston was my home for the next five years.

There is something special about Boston. My hometown back in Washington State was founded in the 1870’s. It’s actually older than Washington itself, as that was only made a state in 1889. But both of those places seem like they were founded yesterday when compared to the history of Boston. Boston was founded in 1630, a full 240 years before people even began settling in my hometown. Boston has a thread of history that runs through the streets. While I’ve lived here, I’ve walked on roads that were present during the American revolution. I’ve seen buildings older than my state. I’ve explored areas of the city that have been inhabited since before calculus was invented. The history of Boston isn’t only stored in museums and written on plaques. It is in every brick that was used to build this town.

Of course, Boston isn’t only about what happened in the past. This is a bustling city, after all. There is a thriving art scene, supported by the dozens of galleries and museums within the city. You can find food from anywhere in the world, made traditionally or with a modern flare. And every time I venture into the city I find a locally-owned bookstore tucked away amongst the tall buildings, waiting for me to come in and spend inordinate amounts of money on books I (probably) do not need. I’ve spent many afternoons wandering in the Boston Common, drawing all the dogs I see and enjoying the sunshine. I’ve seen weird art shows with my friends, wandering through Park Street to see the imagination of the people here. I’ve visited the year-round farmer’s market, then gone home and made pasta with fresh, locally-grown ingredients. No matter where I go I always find something to enjoy.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t miss Washington. I miss the trees and the rain that doesn’t soak you to the bone and the mild fall weather. And I don’t like some things about Boston, such as the humidity and heat of the late summer and the fact that I’ve never had a public bus arrive on time. But Boston does its best to make up for the flaws. My undergraduate advisor always told me to pick a graduate school for the advisor, not for the location. He was right, of course. However, even though I didn’t come to Tufts because it is in the Boston area, I am happy that I ended up here.

Why Ece Chose Tufts

Written by Ece Gulsan, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. student

In this multi-part blog series, we will be exploring why current #TuftsGrad students chose to pursue their graduate education at Tufts University. Today, we hear from Ece Gulsan, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. student, in part 3 of our ‘Why Tufts?’ series.

Tufts. 

T-U-F-T-S. 

Great, but what does that stand for? 

Although many of you grew up with the dream of being a part of one of the best universities in the country, Tufts was a name that I had to explain over and over again to my parents back in Turkey. I knew how prestigious Tufts was, because I did my homework before I applied to grad schools. However, my parents needed to hear a lot more about Jumbo before being convinced to send me to the other side of the world. So here is what I told them about Tufts from an engineering perspective, and why I did not choose to go to any other place for my graduate studies.

Location, location, location…

Tufts is located on top of the hills of Medford, very close to beautiful reservations and lakes, and also only a 30-minute subway ride away from the city center. If you missed my previous blog post about why I chose Boston, check it out here!

Another one of the biggest reasons why I chose Tufts is the fact that Tufts values research and provides a wonderful environment for us to communicate our ideas with like-minded folks across departments. Science and engineering require multidisciplinary approaches, and the Tufts community is well aware of this. You can easily join informal group meetings with other graduate students or researchers having similar scientific interests, and share your ideas with them for feedback. Faculty members are very accessible and always happy to help students. Class sizes are relatively small, which allows for better communication with professors and other researchers. Tufts also has very strong connections with other excellent schools in Greater Boston Area; you get to know eminent researchers and are able to follow all the hot topics in your field. Moreover, you are not limited by your undergraduate background here. As long as you are willing to put effort and learn, you are always encouraged to perform research on a topic that you are passionate about. For example, during my time as an undergraduate, I used to work with applied catalysts, but I have now switched to metabolic engineering and started working on human microbiome studies thanks to the endless support of my advisor, colleagues, and department.

No matter how much you love what you are doing, your working environment is what actually shapes your overall experience. Tufts is known to be a “quirky” school – and nothing could describe the Tufts community any better. You will be sharing your lab space or office with extremely intelligent folks who have very interesting hobbies and passions. Those people have an excellent work-life balance and inspire others to learn new skills and start exciting hobbies. Also, Tufts welcomes a lot of international students, and it is really cool to have close friends from all around the world. 

If you want to strengthen your skills and improve your scientific knowledge, be challenged to become an independent researcher and work with awesome people, Tufts is the place. If you had asked me where I would want to be in the future, I would have described exactly where I am today.