Letters to Graduate Students 4 | Beware of the Quarter Life Crisis

Dear Dr. You

Dear Dr. You,

Quite frankly, I never heard of the quarter-life crisis until today. Gee thanks “Dominique” for sharing this insightful article with me today!

After reading this article, I realize that I am on the tail end of my quarter-life crisis. According to the article:

Phase 1 – A feeling of being trapped by your life choices. Feeling as though you are living your life on autopilot.

Ohmigoodness, yes! I admit after grad school I could not figure out what was next for me. In retrospect, I gravitated to my startup because I would essentially be commercializing my thesis project. It was a field that I knew and loved and believed in – proteomics. I knew I was good at it; I had awards to prove it. I loved my team, after all one of them was my PhD advisor. I couldn’t say no to him. He believed in me so much, imparted his knowledge on me, and mentored me for almost 5 years. But, I realized in this phase that being an adult means setting my own goals, pursuing my own dreams – not the dreams of my advisor nor my parents. But, my own. Up until the end of my PhD, I didn’t really have to think about what was next. What was next was always written in a course catalog. Now, with a world of opportunities available to me, I felt trapped in the startup. Long hours doing experiments, writing grants, writing business plans, training technicians, answering phones. My life was on autopilot.

Phase 2 – A rising sense of “I’ve got to get out” and the feeling that you can change your life.

I think the trigger to get out was staring at my dwindling bank account, and realizing that after receiving an advanced degree, I was  still not able to help my mother financially. Realizing that I couldn’t afford to travel as much as I wanted to. Realizing that my friends in the industry did not have 12+ hour days.

Phase 3 – Quitting the job or relationship or whatever else is making you feel trapped and embarking on a “time out” period where you try out new experiences to find out who you want to be.

So, I resigned. I don’t like the word “quit”. I most definitely didn’t quit. I resigned amicably. And, those weights lifted off my shoulder.

Phase 4 – Rebuilding your life.

I moved states. I got to use my interior decorating skills to “adultify” (i.e. beautify my place in a non-college student way) my new apartment. I feel free. I have time to explore my other passions now. Mind you, I do miss living in a college town. I miss having intellectual conversations with my peers and my “superstar”. I miss my “superstar”. I miss being at the forefront of new technologies and innovations. But, I finally have the time to take care of me, and I am loving it. I am loving this state and being close to my “Dominique.” I am loving dabbling in the medical device industry.

Phase 5 – Developing new commitments more attuned to your interests and aspirations.

I still don’t think I am where I want to be yet. But it’s a start. I just learned that I can paint :D. I’m serious about staying fit and now I have time to go to the gym. I know that I will start a start-up again one day; working in industry allows me to learn how I can do it right the next time. I’m still going to write that children’s book; I gave myself my own deadline. And, I love that it is a self-imposed deadline, and not a school deadline or work deadline, but my own. That simple deadline makes my heart smile.

So quarter-life crisis, I am proud to survive you!! And, Dr. You, if you are going through this, I wish you the best of luck. There is a light at the end of your tunnel! I see it!!! I do, I do. Do you? Look closely. You are almost there ;). Be blessed!

~ Bella A.


Once Upon A Time | At Georgia Tech

As written by Bella Agnes in 2006.


Ok…so I get on the Tech Trolley this morning at the Midtown Station at 8:34 am to be precise…and just my luck, I get to sit behind this weird a$$ guy on the trolley. As soon as he settles into his seat, he engages into a mechanistic cycle of taking his left pinky finger, places it into his left eardrum, and starts digging for earwax. Once he found is treasure, he watches it for a brief second, flicks it off with is left thumb or places it into his MOUTH! It reminded me of ChBE 2100 when I was learning the mass in = mass out process…oh lawd! And when he got bored with the left ear, he switched over to the right…
The dude proceeded to do this for 11 minutes! Yes I timed him! I was dismayed, disgusted, appalled, unnerved, wanted to barf, tempted to slap him upside the head, and be like, what the hell are u doing…

I tried to look out the window at the beautiful scenery…but I have to admit that I was oddly fascinated by his rather obsessive compulsive disorder…Never have I seen someone do this in PUBLIC before! Of course, I’ve never seen anyone do this in PRIVATE either :D.

I felt sorry for the guy seating right beside him. You should have seen how he jumped out of his seat when he arrived at his stop at the ES&T building, but me I had another two minutes to endure!

And then, the earwax-picking dude had the audacity to hold the handle of the seat when he stood up at the Dorm Stop across the MSE building! Hell NO! and then he holds onto the silver bars on the ceiling of the Tech Trolley, and I was forced to be reminded of all the germs that we pick up everyday, not knowing who touched what after doing what! Shyt! Shyt to the power of infinity!


Lucky for me, I am short! I thank God for the little height he gave me everyday! why? because holding onto those silver bars on the trolley literally dislocates my shoulder! I tried once and had to tippy toe to reach it…lol 😀

All i know is that this was the longest 11 minutes of my life! …

Faculty for the Future Fellowship, Due Nov. 14th | International Female Students Pursuing a PhD in STEM

Program: awards fellowships to women from developing and emerging economies to pursue PhD or post-doctorate studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Apply if You: 

– are a female and are a citizen of a developing country or emerging economy. You are not eligible to apply if you hold dual citizenship of which one is citizenship of a developed country.

– are preparing for a PhD degree or post-doctoral research in the physical sciences, engineering, technology and related disciplines. Awards in biological sciences are limited to interdisciplinary research between physical and biological sciences. The Faculty for the Future program does not fund Master level studies;

– are enrolled, admitted or have applied to a host university/research institute abroad (applications are no longer accepted where a candidate has not yet applied to a university).

– hold an excellent academic record

– have a proven track record of teaching experience or can demonstrate commitment to teaching

– can demonstrate active participation in faculty life and outreach programs to encourage young women into the sciences

– are willing to contribute to the socio-economic development of your home country and region by strengthening the faculties in your home university, pursuing relevant research, or using your specific expertise to address public policy matters

Click here for more information.

Good luck!

Interested in Data Science? Apply for the Winter Data Science Fellowship

Program: The Data Incubator is an intensive six-week fellowship that prepares postdocs and PhDs in STEM + social science fields seeking industry careers as data scientists. The program is free for fellows and supported by sponsorships from dozens of employers across multiple industries. In response to the overwhelming interest in our earlier summer and fall sessions, we will be holding a winter postdoc fellowship.

Locations: There will be both an in-person (in NYC) and online section of the fellowship.

Dates: Both sections will be from 01/05/15 to 02/13/15

Who should apply: Anyone within one year of graduating from a PhD program or who has already obtained a PhD is welcome to apply. Applications from international students welcome. There is a common application for both the online and in-person sections. Everyone else (including non-PhDs) is enouraged to sign-up for a future session.

For additional information, checkout our website, blog, Venture Beat article, or Harvard Business Review piece.

Good luck!

Letters to Graduate Students 3 | Creating a WOW Resume

Dear Dr. You

Dear Dr. You –

Graduation is over! Thesis is submitted! Diploma is on its way! And, now you are ready to for this new, wonderfully frustrating period of your life – job hunting! Whooohooo (not! ;/)

Well, I have good news. This is the best article I’ve found to date on how to create a WOW resume.

Best of luck to you! Now, go ahead and wow the recruiters with your awesome expertise!

Kindest regards,

Bella A.

Eureka 1 | Email and SMS Tow Alert Services

Eureka! I have an idea!! 😀

You will be hearing this from me quite often because I am constantly envisioning things that do not exist. If you ever watch the animated film, The Croods, pay attention to the character called Belt aka Emergency Idea Generator. Belt and I are two sides of the same coin…except, I prefer to be called something a bit more fashionista-esque because I am a girly engineer (sometimes). So…let’s go with Innovangelista

Most adults do not have active imaginations. They choose to accept things the way they are. They talk about mortgages, taxes, promotions and the ever-depressing news. Heck, sometimes they even rationalize getting married or having kids by potential tax breaks. Unfreakinbelievable!

I have a theory: I am an imaginative child-like soul, residing as a tenant in a 16-year old body, with an adult degree. Best of all worlds if you ask me. Lots of pros with that combination (aging gracefully being one of them haha).


  • I imagine a world with lots of new technologies that have yet to be invented, but can be invented given current resources.
  • My engineering background allows me to rationalize how said idea can address an unmet need and become a tangible product.
  • My inner entrepreneur (trained by Steve Blank‘s lectures through the NSF I-Corps Program) projects how this product can be commercialized.

Life is about having fun. It’s okay to think outside the box and ask a lot of “Why?” questions. Challenge yourself. Challenge your peers. Have fun with learning! With that, let’s innovate this Tow Alert Service.

Innovangelista Idea Activate! 


Current Technology

Without a smart phone, you could call 911 and ask if your car is listed on the tow log.

With a smart phone, you could google like my coworker did.

The Problem

The time spent by 911 dispatchers identifying a car’s status (towed vs stolen vs driver forgot where he/she parked) quickly adds up.  This is obviously an inefficient use of time.

The anxiety felt by the driver when he/she cannot locate his/her car is mindboggling.

The Solution

An email or SMS alert is sent to you when your car is towed.

It would be very similar to the SMS weather alerts, which warn us of impending flash floods or tornadoes.

How to Implement

When you register your car, your license plate is linked to your cell phone and email address. Then, when your car is towed and added to the tow log, an email or SMS is automatically sent to your phone.


A one-time fee of $0.99 or less is paid by customers who sign up for this email/SMS service. Or, the service is free to the user, but each email/SMS has a an advertisement included. Companies pay to have their ads included in these messages.


What do you think?

Inventor or Innovator?

If you were to categorize scientists/engineers as the innovative-visionaries versus the conservative-realists, then I would be in the innovator category. I have often dreamed of delivering a ground-breaking, awe-inspiring Ted Talk. Who knows? Maybe that dream will come to pass one day.

Do you know that there is a difference between an inventor and an innovator? Few scientists/engineers are both. An inventor creates a new technology/device/drug/process, and she patents it. She invents this new entity, challenges the state-of-the-art, and goes to bed feeling like Alberta Einstein. (Yes, I made Albert’s name effeminate). But, the inventor has no business savvy. To prevent the invention from only living on paper, she will (1) sell the intellectual property to a larger, more established company OR (2) partner with an entrepreneur and spinoff a new company in hopes that her technology gets commercialized OR (3) let her invention ‘die’ in the patent world, never to be heard of by you or me.

An innovator, on the other hand, improves existing designs, develops and commercializes a new technology/device/drug/process. When that new technology is marketed, the world says “Ahh, why didn’t I think of that?”

I’ll give you a great example. Have you heard of Elias Howe? Hmm. Probably not.

Have you heard of Isaac Singer? Hmm. Not sure? How about Singer Sewing Machines.

Howe’s patent for the first sewing machine was issued in 1846, but he couldn’t get investors interested in his design. Singer improved on the design and filed a patent in 1851, and he tirelessly pursued the commercialization of his design. Howe was the inventor, and Singer was the innovator. One hundred years later and Singer’s name is still synonymous with sewing machines.

Some scientists/engineers, however, can be both inventor and innovator. Just think of the Wright Brothers and the invention/innovation of the airplane ;).

I think I am more of an innovator than an inventor, but so far I have only proved that I am an inventor. I am a proud patent holder; my first of three patents was filed in 2011. And, I did explore my innovative side by founding a startup – but I opted for an industry position where I had more financial stability. And, my innovator bug is itching to “buss’ out”.