Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Received my M.S. in Journalism in May 2017

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I met B. on Reddit. He replied to a post I made in a Crohn’s disease message board, where I was in search of someone with Inflammatory Bowel Disease who would be willing to star in a narrative of their own suffering. He wrote, “30, Male, IBD, Diagnosed age 8. Single word: fuck.”

B. not only lived in New York, he coincidentally worked across the street from my school. But over the course of the month that I spoke with him, I never met him in person. He was in the middle of another flare up, and was working from home in Long Island in between hospital visits. I asked him what his flare ups feel like...

In scientific research, some Ph.D students have metaphors for the way that labs are run. At Rockefeller University, the two main types are called “garden labs” and “factory labs”. Ed Aguilar, sporting a green and black sweater with a red reindeer in the center, works in a garden lab, filled with rabbit holes and twisted roots and sprouting trees.

“Your boss effectively plants you in a garden and says alright, here are some nutrients,” said Aguilar, a 25-year-old Ph.D student in Charlie M. Rice’s virology lab. “Then in this condition, you wander, sputter about, you go in the wrong direction sometimes, but eventually you find your roots, you strengthen, you get more confident and strong, and over time you have a nice little healthy tree...”