Meet Victory Yinka-Banjo, the student making waves with her impressive achievements

This transcript is part of a series from the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science featuring students sharing insights about themselves and their experiences at the Institute. In this installment, Victory Yinka-Banjo, a junior pursuing a major in MIT Course 6-7: Computer Science and Molecular Biology, sheds light on her involvement in various programs and activities at MIT.

Q: Which area within MIT do you find most appealing?

A: I find the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard on Ames Street in Kendall Square particularly captivating. This is where I engage in my SuperUROP research under Caroline Uhler’s lab. The newest mezzanine floor of this building, where I work in shared UROP rooms with two other undergraduates, offers a comfortable and technologically equipped space. The building not only serves as my favorite spot on campus but also holds sentimental value to me as I once dreamed of working within its premises before my admission to MIT.

One remarkable aspect of this building, aside from its panoramic view of Cambridge from the upper floors, is that it symbolizes the realization of my aspirations, reinforcing my appreciation for every moment spent there—whether engaged in research tasks or last-minute exam preparations.

Q: Can you discuss a newfound interest or hobby you’ve developed at MIT?

A: My involvement in performing arts has significantly evolved since my arrival at MIT. I have actively participated in two plays organized by the Black Theater Guild, experiences that pushed me out of my comfort zone and provided unique opportunities for personal growth. Additionally, I engage in spoken word performances, sharing my international perspectives and experiences at various campus events. Notable among these was my piece titled “Code Switch,” which creatively intertwines concepts from computer science and biology to convey messages of authenticity and uniqueness.

I am currently part of MIT Monologues, preparing to perform a piece titled “Inheritance,” focusing on the importance of self-love and familial bonds.

Q: Are you more inclined towards revisiting books, shows, or movies, and what are your comfort choices?

A: I tend to favor podcasts for relaxation, with a particular fondness for the episode titled “A Breakthrough Unfolds” by Google DeepMind. This podcast consistently evokes emotional responses due to its illustration of scientific breakthroughs and problem-solving capabilities, particularly in areas like protein folding, which hold immense potential for the biotech industry.

As a student of computer science and biology, I am intrigued by the transformative applications of these disciplines, instilling optimism in me for the future advancements in biology and the positive impacts on human health.

Q: Who stands out as your favorite artist?

A: When considering artists, music comes to mind first. Among my current favorites are Limoblaze and KB. Their fusion of gospel and Afrobeats resonates with me, with KB’s tracks dominating my workout playlists. These artists reflect my Christian and Nigerian heritage, contributing to my diverse musical interests.

Q: If you had to select a single personal item for the journey to the first Mars colony, what would you bring?

A: In a challenging decision, I would choose my Brass Rat as the sole item to carry. Since acquiring it in my sophomore year, this ring has become an integral part of me, symbolizing my connection to MIT and serving as a constant reminder of my academic journey.

Q: Share a pivotal life moment that shaped your trajectory.

A: Two impactful moments influenced my career path—a TEDx talk on storing data in DNA during my high school years and a lecture by Professor Jacquin Niles on malaria research in molecular biology. These experiences sparked my interest in computational biology and its potential to address healthcare challenges, particularly in regions like Nigeria. They have inspired me to pursue research in molecular biology and computational science for addressing neglected tropical diseases.

Q: What excites you about post-graduation life and what do you anticipate missing about MIT?

A: The prospect of more research opportunities post-graduation excites me, especially since my time at the Broad has been incredibly fulfilling. I look forward to delving into new projects and advancing my academic pursuits in computational biology. However, I will sorely miss MIT’s unique Independent Activities Period (IAP), which encapsulates the institute’s ethos of exploration and innovation. Beyond graduation, I aspire to engage in educational initiatives in Nigeria and integrate service into my everyday life.

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