Meet EECS graduate student Ivan Chan


EECS graduate student Ivan Chan

Where are you from and where did you complete your undergraduate studies?

My hometown is the beautiful, but rainy, city of Vancouver in Canada. (Ironically, I missed the 2010 Olympics because I was in Cambridge!).

I studied Engineering Physics at the University of British of Columbia, whose campus is 6 times as large as MIT. Unfortunately, the amount of free food did not scale (MIT has it good).

What is your research about and why are you excited about your projects?

I study terahertz quantum cascade lasers, which are a type of very long wavelength semiconductor laser. The cool name aside, I enjoy my research because it really lets me employ my applied physics background to its fullest. And despite the relative obscurity of what I study, there's a surprising amount of international interest, so I've had the pleasure of interacting with researchers from Europe, Asia, and even my native Canada.

What do you like to do outside of research and academics?

Heh, well, to be honest, research has eaten up more and more time over the years... That tends to be true the longer a graduate student stays. But I took Judo at MIT for three years, and back when I was living in Sidney-Pacific dormitory, I was an active member of student government there. Sidney-Pacific runs some of the best graduate student recreational events on campus, so that was a lot of fun. Nonetheless, it's important to avoid atrophying into a brain-on-legs, so I go to the gym regularly these days. I also took an athletics class at the Z-Center, which was great (improved my running speed by a fair margin). I also enjoy reading novels, my favorite series being George RR Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice."

What are your career goals and future plans?

Originally it was: Step 1. Attend MIT
Step 2. ? (Fill in details later)
Step 3. Take over world (and profit!)

I'm currently settling for the more modest goal of completing my PhD (hopefully with good results!) and then finding work as a semiconductor researcher somewhere in the world.

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