Get to Know WIC: Mikaila Hoffman

Mikaila is a second year grad student and member of the WIC outreach committee. She’s from Pittsburgh, PA, and went to undergrad at Oberlin College (in the middle of nowhere Ohio). Here at MIT, Mikaila works for Prof. Gabriela Schlau-Cohen studying conformational dynamics of a bacterial transmembrane receptor protein using single-molecule spectroscopy. She is excited about applying physical chemistry tools and frameworks to understand complex biological systems.

Why did you pick MIT?
I picked MIT because I felt it had the best (and most exciting) options for pursuing biophysical research, and I got along well with the current and admitted students.

What are your favorite things about the Cambridge/Boston area?
I really like living near a river and well-maintained outdoor areas, like Boston Common or the Esplanade. It’s also cool to live in a city that attracts fun concerts and events.

What’s something that surprised you about life here?
I was surprised at how easy it was to get involved in extracurricular activities and how many graduate students participate! I’ve really enjoyed meeting people through intramural soccer and painting classes.

Real Talk: What’s been your biggest challenge since coming to MIT?
My biggest challenge has been adjusting from being at a small liberal arts school to a huge research institution. Classes were challenging because I didn’t feel like I had the same background that other students who went to bigger schools did, which led to a lot of self-doubt. Joining a research group and finding a supportive group of friends have both helped me work through this challenge.

What was your favorite part of your first year at MIT?
My favorite part of my first year was that, by the end of it, I had found a support network of friends and colleagues at MIT that made working here more fun!

What is your favorite thing about your cohort?
My favorite thing about my cohort is how much fun we have together (and how committed we are to not talking about science when we’re socializing)!

Why did you join WIC?
I joined WIC mainly because I wanted to help with outreach events, but also because the idea of being part of a bigger community of women scientists was really appealing.

What’s your favorite WIC program or event?
I’ve really enjoyed the Galentine’s Day event each year because it’s brought out people’s fun and crafty sides!

What’s your go-to for self-care in quarantine?
I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, but an equal (if not greater) amount of playing Animal Crossing. Who could say no to creating their own island paradise at a time like this??


Our series “Get to Know WIC” was inspired by MIT CADI, who did a similar series for their members. Thanks for the idea!