Research shows the success of a bacterial community depends on its shape.
While graduating from MIT represents a landmark achievement for Marissa Anne Rodriguez Acosta, it is not the most significant event in her life in recent weeks.
Ms. Acosta gave birth to her first child at 5:59pm on May 27, a seven-pound, 12.6-ounce boy named Alistair Maxmillian Acosta-Gladstone. The baby, who was 20 inches tall at birth, will attend the graduation ceremonies on Friday, accompanied by his father, Jonathan Gladstone (Class of '95), and his maternal grandparents.
"Just like MIT, this little one is going to give us his share of 'all-nighters'--except instead of laboring over problem sets, we will focus on nurturing Alistair," said Ms. Acosta. "Likewise, the results will be well worth the hard work."
The baby has ties to MIT going back four generations on his father's side. His great-grandfather, Robert Newman, received bachelor's and master's degrees from the Institute, and he introduced Course 4.43 (Architectural Acoustics). His grandfather, Robert J. Gladstone, earned the SB in electrical engineering and computer science in 1962 as well as an SM and PhD. His father left school about a year short of his degree to work for X-Com Technologies.
Mr. Gladstone, who is from Lexington, MA, was introduced to Ms. Acosta by mutual friends at Senior House, where she was living as a freshman. Something clicked between them at a party two years later. "We started dating casually almost immediately and the relationship has evolved into a very close friendship and partnership since then," she said.
Ms. Acosta completed work toward her SB in February. She sees Commencement as a milestone. "I didn't have much ambition when I got to MIT," she said. "Being here made me think. I learned to be punctual and prepared for lots of classwork. This is the culmination of a stressful, educational four years of my life."
A resident of Huntsville, AL, Ms. Acosta applied only to the Georgia Institute of Technology and MIT to study mathematics. She developed an interest in filmmaking when she took Professor Edward Turk's class in French Film Classics and discovered the avante garde.
After seeing "Jules and Jim" and "Diabolique," among other films, she said, "I became sidetracked." As a class project, she made a Super 8mm documentary in which she traversed Massachusetts Avenue from Harvard Square to Edward Everett Square in Dorchester, interviewing a cross-section of American society along the way. "It was fascinating," she said.
Ms. Acosta joint-majored in film and mathematics and plans to do postgraduate work in film. Mr. Gladstone plans to return to MIT to earn his degree in the future. "Not right away," he said. "Someone has to feed this family."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 3, 1998.