What do you do at LIDS?
I'm an Administrative Assistant at LIDS. I'm now assisting five LIDS professors: Sanjoy Mitter, Alan Willsky, Patrick Jaillet, Moe Win, and Yury Polyanskiy. I do some standard work for them, such as research reports and reimbursements. I also do some general administrative work for LIDS headquarters like keeping track of graduate student support and room assignments, and handling some web work for the LIDS Advisory Committee. I do a little of everything. I've definitely gotten pretty creative about keeping To-Do lists!
What do you most enjoy about working in LIDS?
It's a wonderful place to work. I seem to have lucked into a place that is really good at understanding family needs. My son, Avi, is 10, and my daughter, Leah, is 13. My favorite aspect of LIDS is the quality of a work-life balance. In fact, I believe I'm one of the first people at MIT to have an official schedule allowing me to work from home, so I value that opportunity. Overall, the people here at LIDS, and everyone I've worked with at MIT, have been wonderful, understanding, and appreciative.
What were you doing before you came to LIDS?
I've actually been at MIT for 17 years. I first worked in the Center for Theoretical Physics from 1994 to 2000, where I learned how to use LaTeX, a type-setting package written by a mathematician. When my daughter was born in 2000, I left for a year to be with her. After that, I came to work part-time for Sanjoy Mitter, who had just left his role as the co-director of LIDS. He needed someone who knew LaTeX, so that worked out fine. I started full-time at LIDS after about a year.
Have any of your prior experiences prepared you for your work at LIDS?
Absolutely. I majored in theatre arts design and technology at Cornell University. That's all about organizing and pulling all the various elements of a theatrical production together and into performance and I really thrive on that. There is a definite parallel with the multiple tasks I handle at LIDS. Also, my dad is a physicist who spent 9 years at MIT. So, it's natural for me to type mathematical papers and equations, as I am able to recognize the mathematical symbols, even if I don't understand much of the specifics.
What do you do when you're not at LIDS?
Of course, I spend a lot of time with my kids and my husband Joshua, who is a professor of English literature at the Massachusetts College of Art.
I have a lot of passions that come and go, but one is pretty consistent: I sew. I do upholstery, including pillows, curtains, and sofas for fun. As my extended family has had more children, I've made quilts that I've illustrated for each new baby's arrival with images of flowers, folk tales, Norse mythology, or Biblical stories. Sometimes, my husband draws the images and I sew them onto the quilts.
What are your plans for the future?
At the point when my kids don't need me to drive them everywhere and can get themselves to school, I'll consider getting more in involved in all the activities available at MIT. I plan on taking classes in pottery here. I'd also love to go to lectures on environmental science and energy. I read each issue of Energy Futures from MITEI cover-to-cover.