Take Advantage of Brown Bag Lunches

by Katherine Pett

Frequently, on Tuesdays at noon, professors come to a classroom in Jaharis to eat lunch by themselves. Oh wait, did I say by themselves? I meant with students of the Friedman School. However, brown bag lunches are often sparsely attended. I am here to convince you to take advantage of these opportunities to meet your professors!

I walked in 15 minutes late to a brown bag lunch with Dean Mozaffarian unconcerned. “It’s going to be full,” I thought, “so I can just sneak in the back.” Well this was a lesson in promptness because I couldn’t have been more conspicuous. I was one of four students who showed up to eat lunch with the Dean. The room was so empty, I felt like I needed to time the opening of my seltzer water so I didn’t drown out the quiet conversation.

Was this a bad experience? No! It was an interesting time to learn more about classmates I hadn’t yet met and about the Dean’s objectives for the future of the Friedman School. It was at least as informative as a seminar. However, the room wasn’t quite as full.

This isn’t the only time I’ve been a near-solo act at a Brown Bag Lunch affair. Last semester my epidemiology TA, Sam (an awesome Ph.D. student and incredibly helpful TA) and I, were the only people in the room with Dr. Paul Jacques of the HNRCA. On the plus side, I was able to monopolize Dr. Jacques’ time right before my Nutritional Epi exam. On the minus side, I was supremely self-conscious about the fact that I had brought baby carrots. Not a subtle food…

Being a graduate student can feel like every day is part of a race toward a deadline; a paper, an exam, data analysis, etc. We’re holed up in study rooms (if we can wrangle them) or at home, or in class, staring at computers and trying to get work done. Adding another activity, especially one that isn’t required, can feel like a burden more than an advantage.

But Brown Bag Lunches are truly unique opportunities to meet professors and learn about them and their work in a way you never could in class. It is a great time to ask faculty about their research and career path. It is a great place to get suggestions for classes to take in the future or projects to tackle. It is perhaps the ideal place to ask the nutrition-related questions you’ve always had but are too self-conscious to ask in class.

Final suggestion: If you haven’t yet attended a Brown Bag Lunch session, make sure you attend one before the end of the year.

The Brown Bag Lunch schedule for the rest of the year is as follows:

-Tuesday, March 8, 12:15-1:15pm: Dr. Jeanne Goldberg

-Tuesday, March 15, 12:15-1:15pm: Dr. Nicola McKeown

-Tuesday, March 29, 12:15-1:15pm: Dr. Lisa Freeman

-Tuesday, April 5, 12:15-1:15pm:  Dr. Robert Houser

-Tuesday, April 12, 12:15-1:15pm: Dr. Jennifer Coates

-Tuesday, April 19, 12:15-1:15pm: Dr. Sean Cash

-Tuesday, April 26, 12:15-1:15pm: Dr. Fang Fang Zhang

 Katherine Pett is a second year student in the BMN program.  She just learned how to make tofu taste good in 2016.

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