What do you do at LIDS?
I'm the Administrative Assistant to the Director, Alan Willsky. So what that means is that I'm kind of a "Jill of all trades." I do everything from making sure we have enough copy paper and seeing that the clocks have batteries to managing some budgets, event planning and coordination, and special project work (like LIDS/All).
How long have you been with the lab?
I've been at LIDS for almost three years. I moved back to Boston from New York to do Harvard's post-baccalaureate pre-health program and I was looking for work that would accommodate someone who was also in school. I talked to a placement agency and they said "How about MIT?" I said "that sounds great!" I interviewed with Doris Inslee, a much beloved administrator who is now retired. She hired me and I've been here ever since.
Are you still in the pre-health program?
I'm taking the semester off right now because I'm not convinced that that's what I want to do. I've got lots of ideas and that's the hard part. Cultural anthropology is in the lead, but the field is wide open, so I'm in the process of evaluating that to figure out what the next step will be.
What do you enjoy about working at LIDS?
The people, first and foremost. It's a warm supportive environment here with just a large number of great people, all in one spot.
Before I came to LIDS, I was the managing director of an arts organization – it was a small, start up, non-profit. When I came to LIDS I realized that working with artists and working with professors is a lot alike. The creative energy is very similar: you've got a lot going on, and people making things happen all the time. In a sense, working with artists helped prepare me to work with professors. There's a ton of creative problem solving, and drawing together of disparate things.
What do you do outside of work?
Well until recently what I did outside of work was go to school, and that's all I had time for--plus the odd bit of socializing with my friends. But lately I've been able to indulge a bit and do other things I enjoy, like reading good books and watching films. I'm a big fan of the Institute of Contemporary Art, and I've been able to reconnect with that part of me that still very much loves the arts.
Do you have any favorite books or films?
That's a great question. Oh shoot. Well I just read Lorrie Moore's new book, and I really like her. She's a very intelligent writer. Film? That's too big. Usually the more arty, independent kind of things. For instance, I love "The City of Lost Children", which is not everybody's cup of tea, but I think it's phenomenal.
What was your impression of LIDS when you first got here?
When I got here it was the building that hit me. I was excited, and I thought "Really? I can work in an architectural marvel?" [Laughs] Honestly, it took me a little while to figure out what exactly LIDS was and how it fit into things. The work itself applies to so many different things – economics, biology, engineering – that a lot of different people and different fields are pulled in. I feel like it's a meeting ground of people with common interests. They have other affiliations, but their home is here. That's not a technical definition, of course!
Do you have a favorite moment from working at LIDS so far?
It's actually been a really interesting year to be at LIDS. For instance, we had this huge symposium in November—the Paths Ahead Symposium. It brought together over 300 people from all around the world, and it was really neat to see people working together on behalf of LIDS, getting really excited about the lab, thinking about the future of the field. For me, it was a unique opportunity to get a sense of the context of the lab in the field. So although I have a very small sense of the technical things that we do, I now have a much better sense of the community in which we operate. It was pretty cool to be part of that energy.