Student blogger

Discovering the Libraries: Top 10 things to know

Posted June 5th, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar

By MIT Libraries’ student blogger, Pri Tembhekar

Hello everyone!

It is with bittersweet sentiment that I write my last blog for the MIT Libraries. This post will be about the top 10 things to know about the Libraries. I’ve covered some of these tips in other posts, so this entry will be a good way to tie it all together.

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Bonus tip:The courtyard outside Hayden Library is a relaxing place to study.

  1. Library hideaways can make studying just a little better. The Libraries have many beautiful places to study and also contain 24-hour study rooms. Check out my post about the Lewis Music Library.
  2. Stop by the Libraries for textbooks. You don’t have to carry them around in order to study between classes. The Libraries have textbooks on reserve that you can check out for two hour increments. There are also some textbooks available online through the Libraries. It could save you significant money!
  3. Think outside your courses for fun options at the Libraries. The Libraries have resources well outside science and technology. The Libraries have videos and travel books. Check out my spring break post for more ideas.
  4. On a similar note, the Libraries can help you pursue your interests. The Lewis Library has concerts and open mics that could help nurture and preserve your interest in music. If art is more your style, the Libraries’ pass to the MFA allows you to take non-MIT friends along for free.
  5. Student jobs at the MIT Libraries are a fantastic way to make money and learn. There are many ways to get involved. From the student workers I interviewed, I really got the sense that working at the Libraries had become more than just a job. In my short time here I have learned a lot about blogging and felt a community among the Libraries’ staff. Check out my student jobs post.
  6. The libraries can make research less painful! For in-depth, longer-term research making an appointment with a librarian can go a long way. Subject matter experts can really push you in the right direction. See my post on research resources for more information.
  7. Research guides provide a quicker fix and concise information. They can be accessed online and cover a wide range of subjects. More information is available in the research resources post.
  8. One of the lesser known Libraries’ resources are the range of special events they host. During their IAPril series of events, I learned about using Mendeley software to manage PDFs and citations. There were also events on 3-D printing and business resources. Some events can be really surprising. For example, preservation week brought a letter locking event to MIT.
  9. Meet at least one librarian or staff member during your time at MIT. When I met Jana Dambrogio, I was amazed by her passion for letter locking, something I had never heard of. Not only are they incredible resources, but the Libraries’ staff have unique interests that are refreshing for someone immersed in science and technology.
  10. The Libraries’ scanners are fantastic. They create high quality images with no hassle. When I asked a few senior friends what they liked best, this was the most surprising answer.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! There’s an excellent video on this topic made by the Libraries and featuring students. Best of luck readers!

Discovering the Libraries: Archives and conservation

Posted May 30th, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar

Hello everyone!

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Letters by William Barton Rogers

It has been a few weeks since I had the pleasure of visiting the Institute Archives and Conservation Lab, but I’m excited to write this belated post. This week’s post is about how the MIT Libraries preserve MIT’s rich history and how old, sensitive materials are treated and conserved for library users.

Most students know that William Barton Rogers founded the Institute in 1861. The details of MIT’s founding and early years are much less widely known. The MIT Libraries however has a surprisingly in-depth collection of materials relevant to MIT’s history. This includes letters that William Barton Rogers wrote, old student newspapers, and photographs of students and buildings. With the help of Nora Murphy, Archivist for Reference, Outreach and Instruction, I got a glimpse of some of the fascinating pieces in the archives.

One of the earliest and, in my opinion, most meaningful pieces was the letter by William Barton Rogers describing his vision for a technical institute. The letter is from 1846 and outlines parts of the MIT mission that are still with us today (right).

Many of the other artifacts give insight into life at MIT in the past. For example, going through old photobooks reveals the presence of international students very early in the Institute’s history (19th century students from China are present in photobooks). There are also pictures of MIT living quarters in the 1930s. Surprisingly, they don’t look starkly different from where we live today.

Important works of MIT students and faculty are also preserved here. I had the opportunity to see a chlorine level map made by Ellen Swallow Richards in the 1880s. Richards was the first female student admitted into MIT and subsequently the first female instructor here.  She is notable for her work in environmental chemistry and testing levels of various toxins in food and water. The MIT Archives has her work as well as some of her personal history. Richards appears in the journal of Louisa Hewins, which the Libraries has in their collection.

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Journal of Louisa Hewins featuring Ellen Swallow Richards (1880s)

A few of the pieces that I saw were just plain fun. For example, the class of ’84 yearbook (1884 that is) has fantastic photos of student organizations. The fencing team is shown below. It also has rosters of fraternity members.

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Fencing team photo in 1884 yearbook

The Tech from June 10, 1910 featured pictures of the Institute buildings and the president of the time. It’s interesting to see what made students of the time take notice.

I went on to see the Wunsch Conservation Lab in the MIT Libraries. Jana Dambrogio, the conservator, gave me an inside look into the life of a book in need of restoration. Jana’s specialty in recent years has been around letter locking, a practice by which letters were sent without an envelope. The letters are folded in different ways that hide the contents of the letter without using more (scarce) paper. It was refreshing to hear about a passion outside science and engineering. Jana explained to me the fine line between restoration of an artifact to its old state and preservation of “imperfections” with historical meaning. I got the chance to see an old work that is currently undergoing analysis.  Jana and her colleagues are looking into the structure of the book and drawing insights about how it was made.

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Tech newspaper from June 10, 1910

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Jana Dambrogio explains the structure of a book

I also met Kate Beattie who was doing a completely different kind of work preparing books for circulation to MIT users. It just goes to show the range of initiatives that the conservation lab engages in.

Thanks again to Jana Dambrogio and Nora Murphy for showing me around!

Discovering the Libraries: Rare books

Posted May 22nd, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar

By MIT Libraries’ student blogger, Pri Tembhekar

Hello everyone!

I had the pleasure of visiting the Archives Reading Room (14N-118) and seeing some of MIT’s rare books. During my “behind-the-scenes” tour of some of the Libraries’ special collections, Stephen Skuce, Program Manager for Rare Books, kindly showed me some of his favorite rare pieces. MIT Libraries acquire rare books primarily through gifts from friends and alumni of MIT. Many of the books are related to the history of science and technology and thus were especially interesting to me as an engineer.

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Gregor Reisch’s Margarita Philosophica

We started by looking at Gregor Reisch’s Margarita Philosophica (Basel, 1508 – MIT Vail Collection). As you can see from the photo, part of the appeal of these books is their aesthetic. They are preserved very carefully (more on that next week) in order to retain their character and wear that is significant as to how they were used. The Margarita Philosophica is an early encyclopedia, filled with knowledge considered important at the time. Interestingly, it contains one of the earliest relatively correct drawings of human internal anatomy.

Even more interesting, in my opinion, were the anatomically incorrect depictions of various animals in Conrad Gessner’s Icones Animalium Quadrupedum (Zurich, 1553 – MIT Kelly Collection). While some common animals such as cows were accurate, others such as camels and unicorns were less realistic. It was mesmerizing to see a bit of history so well preserved, and right under my nose nonetheless!

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Conrad Gessner’s Icones Animalium Quadrupedum

Particularly relevant to my engineering background were William Gilbert’s De Magnete (London, 1600 – MIT Vail Collection) and Robert Boyle’s New Experiments Physico-mechanical, Touching the Spring of the Air (Oxford, 1662 – MIT Vail Collection). These early works on magnetism and chemistry were at the frontlines of the science of their times. Their contributions remain relevant to me as a student interested in the energy applications of chemical engineering.

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Robert Boyle’s New Experiments Physico-mechanical, Touching the Spring of the Air

My favorite piece among those Stephen pulled for my visit was Jane Marcet’s Conversations on Chemistry (London, 1807 – MIT Rogers Collection). It was my favorite in part because of the beautiful story Stephen shared with me about Jane Marcet. Despite the obstacles that women faced in getting an education, Marcet learned a great deal of chemistry. She passed it on in a very approachable book. The book is simply a dialogue of two girls asking their teacher questions about chemistry and her answers. It became an inspiration to girls and boys interested in science, including Michael Faraday.

Finally, if you are wondering how rare books are useful beyond simply being fascinating, the case of Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe (The Eliot Bible) (Cambridge, Mass., 1685 – MIT Kelly Collection) is a great example. This bible was translated into an Algonquin language so that Christianity could be taught to Native Americans living in the Massachusetts region. This language has since disappeared since it was not written by any of its native speakers. However, MIT scholars were able to use The Eliot Bible along with an English version of the bible to revive the language. Thanks again to Stephen Skuce for the tour!

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Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe (The Eliot Bible)

 

Discovering the Libraries: Galleries, audio books, and 24-hour study

Posted May 15th, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar

By MIT Libraries’ student blogger, Pri Tembhekar

Hello everyone!

This week’s post is about fun and eclectic features of the Libraries. These are useful for some intellectual relaxation or a quick break from studying in the library. As the Libraries’ blogger, I wanted to explore some aspects of the Libraries that are less well-known. This week, I dove into the galleries and audiobook collection. This post will be followed by one on preservation, the archives, and rare books.

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Maihaugen Gallery

With graduation just around the corner, many of us have friends and family visiting. These curious visitors often want to know more about the history and importance of MIT (especially when their darling child is getting a degree). The MIT Museum is a great resource, as are the Library exhibits. The largest library exhibit space is the Maihaugen Gallery. You have likely passed by this gallery on your way to Hayden Library or Walker Memorial. It is located in 14N-130. Established in 2008, the Maihuagen Gallery provides an up-close look at MIT’s rare books, artwork, maps, historical documents and photographs. Currently, the gallery is showcasing the evolution of computing at MIT. Friends and family members of all ages will likely enjoy seeing relics from a by-gone computing age and their connection to MIT.

To celebrate the end of the year, I’m taking a few road trips. Top 40 on the radio can get old fast, so this time I’m planning to bring along some audio books. The Libraries have a collection of audio books for all different tastes. For example, I’m interested in the impact of social media on human interactions so Professor Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together stood out to me. One cautionary note is that the audiobooks are primarily in CD format. Thus if you have a fancy new car that only reads mp3s, this might not be the right option.

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Dewey Library 24×7 study space

Finally, I wanted to include a note about the 24-hour study spaces the Libraries provide. You’ll probably be studying this part of the semester and it can sometimes be hard to find a quiet space. During non-library hours these areas are accessible with your MIT ID. They do not provide access to library books, however there are plenty of tables, computers, and printers. Good luck with finals!

Discovering the Libraries: Student jobs

Posted May 1st, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar

By MIT Libraries’ student blogger, Pri Tembhekar

Hello everyone!

I’ve spent quite a few posts now describing resources offered by the Libraries. This week is about a resource that jumps off the page all by itself: money. The Libraries offer a range of paid positions for student workers, including jobs during the summer and IAP. Full information can be found at the student jobs page.

Jobs come in three major flavors. The first and most visible is circulation. These students may have helped you get books you reserved or check out materials. They also work to open and close the library and re-shelve books. Other responsibilities include answering questions, checking the shelves to make sure the materials are correctly placed and accessible, and retrieving materials from the stacks. The second is clerical. Fairly self-explanatory, this position includes ordering materials, stamping books, managing spreadsheets, sorting materials, and special projects like managing digital collections. Finally, students can also do storage and project work. The specifics of this job often depend on what is needed in the Libraries. That might be looking for books, applying barcodes, moving materials into storage, and helping with circulation and clerical duties. To get started you’ll need to identify the job you want, have at least some sense of your schedule, apply online, and  fill out an I-9. One of the major advantages of these jobs, in addition to being paid, is the opportunity to work in a peaceful, beautiful space surrounded by books. To get an insider’s perspective, I interviewed Rebecca Navarro and Kaylee Brent on their experiences.

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Rebecca working at the Lewis Music Library.

Name: Rebecca Navarro

Year: 2014

Course: 16

Job and tenure: Circulation at Lewis Music Library, four years

Hours per week: I’m one of the crazy ones so I work between 12 and 20 hours each week. But it’s easy to get more or fewer hours.

Highlights of the job: I like the relaxed environment. I love the staff. They are really knowledgeable. Working at the music library has also given me an opportunity to continue to pursue music. My concentration is music and I’m really interested in it. The composer forums, open mics,  live concerts, and other cool events bring music to me. I get to learn more about music and keep that passion alive.

Reasons for working at the Libraries:  Honestly as a freshman it was because I needed a job for the money. I live in senior house so I actually know the music library exists. Reasons for continuing were that I love the staff that I work for. They are really accommodating. During finals week they allow for more downtime so that I can study but they also give me assignments when I’m bored.

Learnings on the job: I have learned how to use Barton, how to research properly at the library. I have also learned how accessible the staff is, even for obscure questions.

Take-away message: Don’t be afraid to ask for something you need. I see so many people struggling to find something that they could have found in a few minutes with my help, or the help of the staff.

 

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Kaylee in the Dewey Library staff room.

Name: Kaylee Brent

Year: 2016

Course: 12

Job and tenure: Circulation at Dewey Library, two years

Hours per week: About 10 hours a week.

Highlights of the job: I like that it is pretty easy work and that it is fairly flexible. I get to listen to music when I’m in the stacks. When I’m working at desk I can do some homework during downtime. I’ve also found out about some great resources.

Reasons for working at the Libraries:  I needed money. I’ve worked a bunch of different jobs at MIT. This is low stress and reasonable. I have gotten to the point where generally people see me as competent. They are comfortable with giving me more control of the library. I don’t have to ask questions all the time.

Learnings on the job: I have learned how useful course reserves are! I haven’t bought a textbook in a while because I can use them for free in the libraries.

Take-away message: You should act in the first week of term to maximize opportunity for jobs. It varies by library what your responsibilities are.

Discovering the Libraries: Enriching and simplifying research

Posted April 23rd, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar
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Priya Kalluri, ’16, doing research on several generations of Frankenstein adaptations, using MIT Libraries’ resources.

By MIT Libraries’ student blogger, Pri Tembhekar

Hello everyone! It is research season! Well at least many of us have design projects, theses, or final reports that require significant research. This week I’ll be highlighting some of the Libraries’ resources for research. You probably already know about finding print resources, such as books owned by the MIT Libraries. While this is a good first step, there are many additional sources of information that can add depth and breadth to your findings.

Subject matter experts are part of the Libraries’ staff and have specialized knowledge about subjects ranging from accounting to women’s and gender studies. These experts can provide research consultations for courses, theses, and other in-depth research. These consultations can be very valuable if you come prepared, and with a project that isn’t due in the next two hours. In case you are facing an impending deadline, these subject matter experts have kindly put together subject matter guides. For an example of how these can be used, take the one on energy. The experts have provided a list of easily accessible databases and journals along with short descriptions of their contents. This enables students to produce higher quality research than Google alone can facilitate. The guides are also a direct way to utilize MIT-only resources without much research into which resources are available and relevant. In short, some of the leg work has been done for you! For a particularly fun research guide, check out the one on designing and making stuff.

Along the same lines as the research guides, the Libraries provide class guides. Certain classes require substantial outside material and/or research from students. The professors can work with librarians to put together class guides especially usefully for that class. If your research is for a class, it is worth checking if there is a class guide for it. In my case, the guide for 10.27 (Energy Projects Lab) along with the Energy guide mentioned above and the Chemical Engineering guide were the foundation for preparing a meaty introduction to my final report in 10.27.

Finally, one of the simplest resources is a class textbook. The Libraries provide access to select textbooks online. I never thought to search for textbooks in the library until a friend mentioned last year that he wasn’t buying the textbook because he could access it through the Libraries. This is also useful if you find that you need a textbook for a class you aren’t taking or would like to peruse the textbook for a class you might take. Never hurts to look before you buy!

Discovering the Libraries: IAPril!

Posted April 14th, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar

By MIT Libraries’ student blogger, Pri Tembhekar

Hello everyone! This week’s post is about the Libraries series of April events called IAPril. Many of these are hands-on events to help you solve particular problems or learn about resources in the Libraries. Essentially, it’s like a tiny piece of that wonderful IAP month compressed into 1-2 hours. If you are like me, you often tell yourself that you’ll download software or check out new offerings at a later time. However, without live training or a spot on my calendar, resources that could make my life easier often fall to the wayside. Needless to say that self-motivation is difficult. Enter the IAPril events. These events are diverse but all focus on a way that the Libraries can make research, citations, data analysis, or life in general easier!  In case you’re already sold, you can see the full listings and register here.

Last Wednesday I attended the event on Mendeley basics.  Mendeley is a free tool that can help you organize and manage your citations and PDFs. As a part of senior year in chemical engineering, I am completing a long and arduous design project. One major point of feedback our team received last week was that our citations were weak. This came as no surprise since each member had been writing feverishly with little attention to collaborating and combining the citations of the team. Streamlined software to share and cite the many PDFs we had in fact used would have been useful.

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A library workshop on Mendeley Basics

Learning about Mendeley during the event was much more effective than if I had done it independently. The event instructor was accessible and answered many audience questions. The session ended up being very interactive because a couple of audience members had extensive experience with the software.  I learned that I could easily save PDFs with a browser add-on. A Word add-on allows me to cite it as I write. Notating and highlighting the PDF can also be done within the Mendeley software. Some quotes from the audience on why they use Mendeley:

“It’s amazing for managing a PDF library.”

“You get a great amount of space.”

Although the software still has some bugs around being compatible with other citation software such as Refworks, it might be worth a shot! The most important take away for me was that I still have a lot to learn about resources in the Libraries. IAPril is a great way to dive in and keeping my eyes open is a must. I look forward to continuing to discover the Libraries with you!

Discovering the Libraries: Lewis Music Library

Posted March 26th, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar

By MIT Libraries’ student blogger, Pri Tembhekar

Hello everyone!

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Some great study spaces in the Lewis Music Library.

This week’s post is about one of my favorite places to study–the Lewis Music Library. It is especially valuable for classical music aficionados but has resources for all to enjoy. I often visit the music library when I’m craving a quieter place to work but one that is not as oppressive or pungent as, say, the reading room in the student center. The upstairs study nook is good for more casual work. The large tables downstairs provide ample room to spread out your papers and get to business. Upstairs, there are two group study rooms that are ideal for team meetings. The group study rooms can also be used by one person, but they must relocate should a group need the space.

The music library also offers much more beyond a quiet, calm, and naturally lit study space. All that studying can cause considerable stress. From first-hand experience I know that playing music can relieve stress and encourage a happier perspective. If you’ve been meaning to get back to a musical instrument that you once loved, Lewis Library’s scores can help. With over 39,000 musical scores, there’s certainly something you can pick up to ease back into playing music. There are also pieces from 1880-1920 in the Inventions of Note collection that can be accessed online.

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There are pianos on the 1st and 2nd floor as well as Macintosh computers with music software on both floors.

Once you are back into the swing of music, you might consider joining other musicians for an open mic afternoon. Full reign of the piano and a captive audience are up for grabs about once a month in the Lewis Music Library. The next open mic event is Friday April 4th from 12-1 pm in the music library. A full list of music library events, including professional performances, can be found here.

The music library also offers other handy resources to keep in mind. There is a scanner/copier and Macintosh computers on the second floor. These computers have music software that allows for editing and composition. This includes Sibelius7, Finale 2012, Reaper 4, and Logic Pro X. Listening devices for VHS, DVD, and CDs are also available and can be used in the group rooms to facilitate music study. Finally, the library specializes in in-depth research. There are starter guides available, as well as interesting finds such as the oral history collection, and online streaming.

 

Discovering the Libraries: Spring break at… the Libraries?

Posted March 21st, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar

By MIT Libraries’ student blogger, Pri Tembhekar

It’s time for spring break! That may imply running away from stacks of books as fast as possible but consider a stop at the library first. The Libraries, particularly Hayden, has fantastic resources for fun times too.

If you’re staying in Cambridge/Boston:

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MIT Libraries MFA member card can be checked out.

Consider bringing a non-MIT friend with you to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). MIT students have free entry but Hayden Library also has passes to allow friends to get in for free. The MFA houses one of the most comprehensive art collections in the world. It offers a taste of almost every kind of fine art- including an ancient Egyptian wing and contemporary art. You can also make a day of it by visiting one of their in-museum restaurants.

If you’re feeling more like a homebody this spring break, you’re in luck. Hayden library offers a selection of movies and TV shows on DVD. For example, if you’d like a legal and convenient way to watch The Wire, consider heading to Hayden.

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Second floor of Hayden Library

I always intend to “read more” and “get cultured” to compensate for the deterioration of skills (other than p-setting) while at MIT. However sometimes I don’t know where to begin. The Browsery in Hayden solves this problem. There is an assortment of hand-picked books on display. You can sit on the couches nearby and decide which one you might like to read. If this puts you in the mood to relax and read lightly, you might head over to the rocking chair near the window and pick up a magazine on your way.

If you’re traveling:

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Hayden Library houses a range of travel guides.

I love to travel so the guidebooks section of Hayden always draws me in. It has books on a wide range of destinations, both domestic and international. Guidebooks can offer a well-rounded view of a destination, including what regions to book a fun and safe hotel, where to eat, and convenient maps to plan tours. For example, if you’re going to the Caribbean or other popular spring break destinations, Hayden has just the books for you.

If you’re me:

nullI’ll be going to Iceland. I stumbled across this educational gem, a book that hopefully will have no relevance to my spring break.

Happy spring break!

Discovering the Libraries: Meet the new student blogger!

Posted March 17th, 2014 by Pritee Tembhekar

Hello everyone!

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Masada, Israel January 2014

My name is Pritee (Pri) and I’m the new Libraries student blogger. Through my posts I hope to share information about how the Libraries can be helpful to you. This will include everything from rare book collections, to online resources, to the Libraries’ best study spots. It took me far too long to realize how many resources MIT Libraries actually provides, and how relevant they are to me. Three and a half years in, there is still a lot left to be discovered. In my posts I’ll share tips on how to make studying and research a little bit more (gasp) enjoyable.

In case you are wondering who I am…

I’m a course 10 senior (chemical engineering) with a strong interest in energy. I UROPed in protein-based materials but eventually found out that research was not for me. After working at a refinery, I knew that global energy was the field for me. I’m a believer in the possibility of alternative energy to transform society. At the same time, the chemical engineer in me is fascinated with the complex problems of oil & gas and how they can be solved while that transformation occurs. Next year I’ll be taking my love for big problems and strategy to Houston and working in management consulting primarily for energy companies.

On campus, I’ve been involved in the Society of Women Engineers and Leadership Training Institute. I’m also a veteran of the Global Teaching Labs Program through which I’ve taught at high schools in Italy and Israel. I love to travel, visit farmers’ markets, and run along the Charles River.