I grew up in Damascus, Syria, and came to the US to do my PhD. My years as a graduate student at MIT were amazing, with many long nights of heated discussions, coding and searching for intractable bugs, and arguing about social and political issues while solving math problem sets. My best friends were also my office mates. We worked, took classes, and traveled together. By the end of my PhD, I was so attached to MIT, it was hard to leave. I took a faculty job and stayed.
The other day, a friend of mine put in a good word for me for an amazing internship opportunity. He wrote, “Laura is not corporate polished, but she built a cosmetics manufacturing enterprise with no science background at all. She hustles and makes it happen. If she doesn’t know how to do something, she will figure it out and learn it inside out.”
I was born in a small town in the West Bank in Palestine called Tulkarem. However, I grew up in Amman, Jordan. I came to America when I was 17 years old. I spent 7 years in Texas where I got my BS and PhD. I then came to MIT as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and I have been here since then. I met my wife, Jinane, at MIT, and we raised our three kids (Deema, Hilal, and Yazeed) while we were housemasters at MacGregor house. After living in Cambridge for 30 years, I can confidently say that this is our home.
Have you met your "other” self? No one likes to admit they have one, but I am starting to become well-acquainted with mine. Lately, she has come alive in 3D and is stronger than ever. Perhaps school stress led my mind to build theories that betray me. I’ll describe her in more detail, and maybe our "other” selves will identify with each other.
I was born in Tripoli, Lebanon in 1989 — the same year the civil war ended. I grew up listening to stories of how my parents narrowly escaped the horrors of a sectarian civil war. My parents enrolled us in a secular school, and I didn’t know who among my best friends were Christians or Muslims until I was in middle school. It didn’t really matter to us.
I am originally from Turkey. I graduated from Bogazici University in Istanbul. I came to the US in 1998 for my graduate studies. After obtaining my PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, I moved to Caltech as a postdoctoral scholar. In 2008, I started as an assistant professor at MIT. My lab uses ultrafast laser pulses to understand newly discovered materials such as high temperature superconductors. I greatly enjoy being part of such a diverse and distinguished community of students, postdocs, and faculty at MIT.
I come from Sarajevo, Bosnia, a place historically known as the Jerusalem of Europe. I grew up in an environment where many different cultures and religions coexisted for centuries. That history, but also the systematic targeting of our culture during the 1990s war, informed my life and my work. The war taught me about the power of culture, and the experience of migration taught me to feel at home in many places.
Every day we trudge through the Infinite. We pass peers, professors, and staff, all heading their separate ways. In Campus Life, we cross paths; we learn each other’s names and hear each other’s voices. This year, we heard resilience in struggle and grief in loss, courage under pressure and inspiration in hard work. We heard from our president, from a student EMT, from incredible people in hard places. Now, we return to their stories — we’ll catch a glimpse of their lives before they melt back into the crowd. This is you and me. This is MIT.