Residential Life Area Director
I’m Topher Nelson, the Area Director of McCormick Hall. I’m in my first year here and so far am having a
great time. Feel free to stop by my office, which is in the East Tower right outside the Dance Studio.
When I’m not at work I’m usually out for a run on the Charles River, exploring Boston or just relaxing
with a book.
Hi! I’m Sarah, the GRT in the Annex. This is my third year as a PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering
(Course 3), and my research focuses on nanofabrication of plasmonic structures.
Outside of research, I enjoy singing, jogging, and getting involved in science education outreach. I’m excited
to be a part of the community here, and I can’t wait to get to know you all!
Ashley Brown Raynal and Jean-Raymond (JR) Raynal
Hi! We’re Ashley and Jean-Raymond (JR) Raynal, the GRT’s on 2&3 West. Ashley hails from Pennsylvania, and
came to MIT as an undergrad, while JR grew up on his father’s vineyard in southern France, and earned
his master’s degree in Computer Science at a graduate school in Bordeaux. We met while we were both interning
in South Africa, and now we’re happily married! Currently, Ashley is a graduate student in Course 2 working
on building a miniature NMR spectrometer, and JR is using his superior French education to pursue a career
We love board games, movies, DDR, hiking, and video games. Come visit us in 317 to meet us and our turtle,
Hi hi! I am the GRT for McCormick 4/5 West. I am currently a graduate student in the Earth, Atmospheric,
and Planetary Sciences department (course 12), studying Earth’s climate and climate change. My research
topics have ranged from the tropical atmosphere to the Southern Ocean.
When I am not in the Green building, I can be found running, baking, sleeping, watching cat videos (read
as: procrastinating). I look forward to getting to know all the lovely members of the McCormick community!
Brooke and Hok Hei Tam
Hi! We are Brooke and Hok Hei, the GRTs on 6/7 West. We are both PhD students in Course 10 and we got married
in 2013, right before Brooke moved to Cambridge and started at MIT.
Brooke: Originally from rural Michigan, moving to the city has been a big adjustment, but I’m learning to
love the Boston area. As a ChemE grad student, I am working on developing protein-based assays for detecting
DNA methylation, a modification related to cancer. When I have free time, I’m probably figure skating,
running, playing ultimate Frisbee, or practicing the organ.
Hok Hei: I hail from Hong Kong by way of Toronto and Columbus, Ohio. I’m here to find new ways to improve
vaccines and cure cancer (brain and prostate). In my free time I organize global health events around
MIT and develop medical record systems for refugees. I enjoy traipsing around the world, learning new
things, and building stuff.
We look forward to getting to know you all. Stop by 617 to say hi!
I’m Katherine (or Kat, either’s fine!), the GRT for 2+3 East! I’m a Course 3 (Materials Engineering) PhD student, and I was also an undergrad here at MIT in Course 3, so trust me, I get what you’re going through. My research is in metallic glasses – basically we’re investigating a new way to solidify metals really fast that might allow us to make them really strong. (Please, feel free to ask me more, but be prepared. I LOVE talking about materials science.)
Outside of research, I’m what I consider to be a ‘classic’ nerd – I like reading, comic book super heroes, and dungeons and dragons. Ask me about typical nerd icons (i.e. Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc.) and there’s a pretty good chance I’m a fan and I would be happy to Discuss them with you.
I’m really excited to be a GRT here at McCormick, and I’m sure you all will love it here too.
Ryan and Marcy Gillis
Hi! We are Marcy and Ryan Gillis, the GRTs for 4/5 East. Come visit us in Apartment 525 anytime. Ryan is
a PhD student in Course 10 and Marcy is an IT analyst for a large insurance brokerage. We met as freshman
in college and after a few years of dating got married in August of 2013. We are excited to be a part
of McCormick! Here is a little bit more about us…
Marcy: I grew up in Elk Grove, California and after many years am still learning to live with the snow. I
work as an IT Analyst completing projects for the Northeast Region of my company. In my free time, I
like watching movies, playing board games, trying out new restaurants in the city, and hanging out with
Ryan and friends.
Ryan: I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas where I enjoyed sailing my catamaran from the beach and camping
in the bayous. I am a PhD student studying chemical kinetics with an emphasis on sulfur chemistry and
energy. I enjoy most sports, but am particularly fond of soccer. Cooking, baking, and eating are also
definite hobbies of mine. I look forward to getting to know all of you!
“Goeie dag!” (That is Afrikaans for good day). We are Roedolph and Andrea Opperman, the GRTs on 6+7E, and
we are very excited to get to know the residents at McCormick. We both hail from South Africa though,
after several years in the U.S., our accents are practically nonexistent.
Roedolph received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pretoria, South Africa,
and a dual master’s degree at MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics (Course 16) and the Technology Policy
Program (ESD-TPP). After a few years in industry, he returned to MIT and is now starting his 2nd year
PhD studies in the Man-Vehicle Lab (still Course 16). His research focuses on sensor hardware development
for astronaut exercise on the International Space Station as well as astronaut injury and countermeasures.
Outside of the lab his interests include extreme sports such as sky-diving and bungee jumping, scuba
diving, backpacking and camping, and a variety of sports such as rugby, snowboarding and hockey. He enjoys
traveling the world and experiencing new cultures.
Andrea spent her early childhood in Johannesburg, South Africa before immigrating with her family to Doylestown,
a quaint Philadelphian suburb. Last fall the two of them got married and Andrea moved to Cambridge. Her
field is in Social Work and she works at a local woman’s shelter that endeavors to enhance and promote
the well-being of individuals and families in the community. Her passion is helping people and her interests
include the great outdoors, specifically hiking, camping, kayaking and waterskiing, knitting, traveling
and gourmet cooking. (Roedolph: She makes the most delicious baked goods in town so there’s a treat in
store for our floors!) :)
We look forward to getting to know all of you and to be a part of the great community that is McCormick Hall.
Be sure to ask us about our experiences in Africa, including being bitten by a lion and attacked by monkeys!