Student Spotlight: Vijay Yinka-Banjo | MIT News

Posted by

This interview is part of a series with MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in which students answer questions about themselves and life at the institute. Today’s interviewee, Victory Yinka-Banjo, is an undergraduate junior at MIT Courses 6-7: Computer Science and Molecular Biology. Yinka-Banjo keeps a busy schedule: she is a member of the Office of Minority Education (OME) Award Winners and Leaders Program, A partner in 2024 Public Service-Oriented BCAP Program, Has previously served as Secretary of African Students Union, and is now the graduate president of MIT Biotech Group, Additionally, he is a SuperEurope Scholar, a member of Ginkgo Bioworks Cultivate Fellowship (a program that supports students interested in synthetic biology/biotech); and an ambassador for leadership brain, which equips juniors/leaders of color with the resources needed to prepare for graduate school. Recently he found time to share a glimpse at his MIT experience.

Why: What is your favorite building or room at MIT?

A: It would have to be MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute on Ames Street in Kendall Square, where I do my SuperEUROP research. Caroline Uhler’s laboratory, Outside of classrooms, there’s a 90 percent chance you’ll find me on the newest mezzanine floor (between the 11th and 12th floors) in one of the UROPs. [Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program] Rooms I share with two other graduate students in the lab. We have standing desks, an amazing coffee/hot chocolate machine, external personal monitors, comfortable couches – everything, really! It is not only my favorite building, but also my favorite study spot on campus. In fact, I go there so often, that when friends recently planned a birthday surprise for me, they told me they were considering holding it at the Broad, because they could count on me being there. .

I think the most beautiful thing about this building, other than the beautiful view of Cambridge you get from being on one of the highest floors, is that when I was applying to MIT out of high school, I was at Broad. The work was conceived because of groundbreaking research. To think that this is now a reality makes me appreciate every minute I spend on my floor, whether I’m doing actual research or last-minute studying for midterms.

Why: Tell me about one interest or hobby you’ve discovered since coming to MIT.

A: Since coming to MIT I have become very involved in the performing arts! I acted in two plays put on by the Black Theater Guild, which a friend of mine revived during my freshman year. I played a supporting role in the first play called “Nkrumah’s Last Day,” which was about the reign of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. In the second play, a ghost story/comedy called “Shooting the Sheriff”, I played one of the lead roles. Both forced me to step out of my comfort zone and that’s why I loved these experiences so much. I also got a chance to act with some of my close friends who were first-time stage actors, which made it even more fun.

Apart from acting, I also do spoken word/poetry. I have performed at events such as the African Students Association Cultural Night, the MIT Africa Innovate Conference, and the Black Women’s Alliance Banquet. I try to use my pieces to share my experiences in and out of MIT, while presenting the perspective of an international Nigerian student. My favorite piece was called “Code Switch”, and I used the concepts of [computer science] and biology (especially genetic code switching), to draw parallels with linguistic code-switching and to emphasize the beauty and originality of authenticity. This semester, I am also part of the MIT Monologues and will be performing a piece called “Inheritance,” about the beauty of self-love found in the affection passed down from a mother.

Why: Are you a re-reader or re-watcher – and if so, what are your comfort books, shows or movies?

A: I don’t watch a lot of movies, although I do watch “High School Musical;” Was crazy about all parts of. And the only book I’ve re-read is “Americanah.” I would actually say I’m a re-podcaster! My favorite comfort-podcast is this episode, “A Breakthrough Unfolds” by Google DeepMind., It makes me a little emotional every time I listen to it. This is an example of the power of science and its ability to break boundaries that humans previously thought impossible. As a computer science and biology major, I am particularly interested in the applications of these two disciplines to relevant problems, such as the protein-folding problem discussed in the episode, for which DeepMind’s solution led to massive advances in the biotech industry. Is. This makes me very optimistic about the future of biology and the ways in which computation can advance human health and precision medicine.

Why: Who is your favorite artist?

A: When I think of the word ‘artist’, I first think of music artists. There are many people I love; My favorites also evolve over time. I’m Christian, so I listen to a lot of gospel music. I’m also Nigerian so I listen to a lot of Afrobeats. I’ve been obsessed with this since last summer LimoblazeWhich combines both Gospel and Afrobeats music! KB, an extremely talented gospel rapper, is also somewhat tied in the rankings with Limo for me right now. His songs probably make up ~50 percent of my workout playlist.

Why: It’s time to board the shuttle to the first Mars colony, and you can only bring one personal item. What are you going to bring?

A: Oh, this is a tough one, but it has to be my brass rat. Ever since I got it at the end of sophomore year, it’s been almost impossible for me to take it off. If ever I forget to wear it, my finger gets sore for the whole day.

Why: Tell me about a conversation that changed the direction of your life.

A: Two specific career-defining moments come to mind. They’re not perfect talks, but they are talks/lectures that I was deeply inspired by. The first time I saw it was towards the end of high school This TEDx talk about storing data in DNA, At the time, I was getting ready to apply to colleges and I knew that biology and computer science were two things I really liked, but I didn’t really understand the possibilities that they had as an interdisciplinary field. can arise from their coming together. The TEDx talk was my eureka moment for computational biology.

The second moment was during the introductory lecture “Lab Fundamentals for Bioengineering” by Professor Jacquin Niles in the fall of my junior year. I started the school year with a lot of confusion about my future post-graduation and the relevance of my planned career path to the communities I care about. Originally, I was unsure about how computational biology fits into the context of Nigeria’s problems, especially because my interest in this field is oriented toward molecular biology/medicine, not necessarily public health.

In the US, most research focuses on diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, which, while important, are not the most pressing health conditions in tropical regions like Nigeria. When Professor Niles told us about his laboratory’s dedication to malaria research from a molecular biology perspective, it was another eureka moment. like yes! Computation and molecular biology can actually reduce diseases that affect developing countries like Nigeria – diseases that are understudied, and whose research is underfunded.

After their conversation I felt a new sense of purpose. Graduate school is not the end goal. The goal is to use your skills to shine a light on issues affecting your people that deserve far more attention. I am very excited to see how I will use computational biology to create the next cure for a commonly neglected tropical disease or accelerate the diagnosis of a disease. Whatever it is, I know it will eventually hit close to home.

Why: What do you look forward to about life after graduation? What do you think you’ll forget about MIT?

A: Thinking about graduating really makes me sad. I fell in love with MIT. However, the biggest thing I will miss is period of independent activities (IAP). It’s a unique part of the MIT experience. I’ve done a web development class/competition, research, a data science challenge, a molecular bio crash course, and a deep learning crash course in the last three IAPs. It’s a great time to try something low-stakes, forget about grades, explore Boston, build robots, travel abroad, work less, go slow, really freshen up before spring break, and follow MIT’s ideals of “mind and hands.” It’s a wonderful time to adopt Sentence. To be creative and exploratory. This is an example of what it means to move here, and I can’t imagine it happening anywhere else.

That said, I’m looking forward to graduating so I can do more research. My hours spent thinking about my UROP at Broad are always the fastest hours of my week. I love the rabbit holes that my research allows me to explore, and I hope to explore them again and again as I apply to and hopefully get into PhD programs. I’m still looking forward to exploring a new city after graduation. I wouldn’t mind living in Cambridge/Boston. I love it here. But I would welcome the opportunity to go somewhere new and embrace all the people and unique experiences there.

I also hope to work on more passion projects post-graduation. I feel like I have this idea in my head that once I graduate from MIT, I’ll have a lot more time (we’ll see how that turns out). I hope I can use that time to work on education projects in Nigeria, a place I care about very much. In general, I want to integrate service more into my lifestyle. I hope that post-graduation, I can make this an even greater priority: lifting others up becomes a norm as I continue to climb.

#Student #Spotlight #Vijay #YinkaBanjo #MIT #News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *