Discovering Boston & Cambridge
I arrived in Boston at the end of August, and the first thing that struck me was the temperature! When I told some of my friends I was about to spend a year in Boston, they mentioned the very cold winter that Boston experiences almost every year, but I did not expect it to be so warm and humid over the summer.
My first week on the East Coast was pretty intense, with a lot of paperwork to fill out (getting your visa does not mean you are done with administrative matters...) and trying to find my way into the city. Cambridge looks actually pretty small, or at least one does not feel too much like being in a very large city. This is probably due to the height of the buildings that are not very tall. Boston, however, looks like a small New York City, with its financial district and some skyscrapers facing the Atlantic Ocean.
View of Downtown Boston from the Harbour
I am currently enrolled in a Master Program in Bioengineering at EPFL and I have been given the opportunity to spend ten months in Boston for my Master's thesis. I am part of the laboratory of Prof. Robert Langer, at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and since this is such a large laboratory, it is organized in smaller groups. The subgroup I am currently working in is the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery, lead by Prof. Daniel Kohane at Boston Children's Hospital. The research within the laboratory focuses on the development of new drug delivery systems, which is basically trying to develop novel strategies to deliver drug to different part of the body and at a desired rate. One aspect I truly enjoy about my lab, except for the fact this is a very exciting field, is that both engineers and medical doctors are working together. This multi-disciplinary environment results in a very collaborative and productive environment.
Another thing I like is that I am commuting from Cambridge were I live, to Boston, where Children's Hospital is situated. The public transportations are (surprisingly) pretty reliable and it also gives me the opportunity to experience two very different atmospheres. As I already mentioned before, Cambridge looks smaller and is composed of a large population of students and researchers. This is also very multicultural, due to the large number of people from very diverse nationalities. Boston and especially the Longwood area, with its high density of hospitals have a great impact on the atmosphere. Apart from the large number of ambulances on an emergency run driving next to my lab, I can see all kinds of people, ranging from doctors to nurses to administrative staff, but also medical students (Harvard Medical school being situated in the same area).
During my free time, I like going for a run along the Charles' river or go sailing on one of the MIT tech dinghy (small one-sail boat). I have also had the opportunity to go on one-day trips during my weekends, but I will tell you more about in one of my future post.
Along the Charles Rver