Program: Professor of Physics Professor of Physics
From the Odessa County Public Library in Texas to MIT, Professor Belcher navigated a path to space plasma physics as a part of the Space Plasma Group. Shortly after his arrival as a post Doc at MIT, the group wrote a proposal for the Voyager mission to Jupiter and Saturn. "That is a long way from Earth, and a really long way from the West Texas oilfields where I started out." Belcher says.
It takes sisu. Sisu, Finnish for grit or perseverance, guided Professor Bertschinger from a misfit childhood in Oakland, California to college in southern California where, Bertschinger says, “A rocky start in college led to an instructor advising me not to pursue theoretical physics.
Program: Physics Professor of Physics Division Head, Experimental Nuclear and Particle Physics
Professor Formaggio spent a good portion of his childhood living in Catania, Sicily—a city with no public libraries and a school where teachers spent hours smoking in the teachers' lounge. Nonetheless, "going to college wasn't really a question for me," Prof. Formaggio says.
Program: Physics Professor of Physics, Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow, Division Head for Astrophysics
Professor Hughes' parents, both high school educated, made sure he got a library card and supported his interests in dinosaurs, Tolkienian linguistics, and World War II airplanes, he never heard "What's the point of that?" The question of college attendance, however, raised more issues, "Places like that don't help people like us," his mother contended.
For Dr. Robinson growing up on the Massachusetts "South Shore", hard work, family, and toughness were central values to Irish Catholic immigrant life. Until he came to MIT, the only scientists Dr. Robinson knew were on TV .
Program: Biological Engineering and Biology Professor of Biological Engineering and Professor of Biology
After numerous mid-semester moves, Professor Samson dropped out of high school at the age of 15. "This didn't alarm anyone in my family," Samson says. When Samson discovered biology "was surprisingly interesting", she decided she would go to university and work in a lab.
Program: Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research Institute Professor, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Nobel Laureate
As a youth hoeing tobacco in rural Kentucky, undergraduate life on a college campus appealed to Professor Sharp as a greener, more social alternative. Prof. Sharp decided to save money and attend college. While studying at Union College in the mountains of Kentucky, Prof. Sharp’s interest in chemistry and math “grew exponentially.”
Program: Comparative Media Studies and Writing Professor, Comparative Media Studies and Writing
Professor Taylor grew up in a working class family and eventually ended up in academia by way of the community college system in California. Though her family always abstractly valued education, in practice her path to university was not the most traditional.