After wrapping up her eligibility on the LSU Swim and Dive Team, Lizzie is returning to Baton Rouge to pursue a Masters of Arts in Liberal Arts. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Cui)

It is July 31, 3 p.m., Japanese Standard Time at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.

I should have been there.

My journey to my second Olympic Games started as soon as the 2016 Games concluded, and this time I had a deeper sense of assurance and confidence. The 2016 Games were something from a dream, in fact, a dream from a 10-year-old Lizzie Cui. …


Andrea looking through a microscope. (Courtesy of Andrea Prinzi)

I learned from a very young age that it is possible to be several things at once. My mother, a strong and jovial woman at all costs, spent much of my childhood battling a heart condition that repeatedly landed her in the emergency room. She taught me that sometimes you are born with a condition and that you must handle all associated crises as they come, and then trudge forward with what is next. My father, a loving and hardworking man who struggled with alcohol abuse my entire life, taught me how to love those who carry demons with them…


Courtesy of Laura Burgos

This story is donated to DC Public Library’s “Archive This Moment DC” collection.

It began exactly how I fantasized it would. My water broke at 2 am as I awoke to use the bathroom after binge-watching Season 5 of ‘Power’ with my partner. I expected one large flush, but it came in waves and I was glad that I had hoarded some adult diapers during a trip to the emergency room earlier on in the pregnancy. (I wasn’t having complications but was suffering from severe constipation.) …


Courtesy of Shakira Quiñones-Lebrón

I ended up in a scientific career against many odds, but some of those were not so obvious. As a child, my father instilled in me the idea of going into higher education. He didn’t exactly tell me what career path to take but seeing myself through his eyes made me internalize that higher education was the path for me. Having good grades in elementary school really set the tone for what would have been a successful academic career. Then when puberty hit, school became a little harder and I couldn’t keep faking that I was a really good student.


Gabe Pierce/Unsplash

Those of us from certain cultural backgrounds will remember the joy of finding Easter eggs. When you’re an innocent little kid, you go out to the yard and dig up the chocolatey treats carefully hidden by the Easter Bunny. As we hit our teenage years we’re no longer fooled by the efforts of our well-meaning parents, but we still love chocolate.

When we’re young we are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up”? As a child that’s an easy question to answer — you rattle off the role models around you. The jobs that you…


Living With Difficult Family During the Pandemic

Boogich/Getty Images

I live in a house divided, both in terms of political partisanship and in beliefs about the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic — though it seems these two things are becoming more and more inextricably linked.

I am not quite like the rest of my immediate family; my brother jokes that I was switched at birth. For starters, I am a Ph.D. student in Psychology, the first and only one in my immediate family to go to college, and, according to my brother, a “brainwashed” liberal to boot! …


Pexels, Wikipedia/The Xylom Illustration

The other day, I talked to my parents on the phone.

It has been nearly a month since we last spoke. I have been too busy with experiments, classes, teaching, and brainstorming ideas for my thesis proposal. My parents asked me if I had already eaten dinner and whether or not I had gone grocery shopping. I tell them that, yes I had already eaten and that yes, I had gone grocery shopping. They asked me if I had been sleeping enough and whether or not I had recovered from my cold. I tell them that yes, I had been…


2020 might be a rough ride for most of us, but there’s always the small things to savor and grow from. Here are some of our favorite stories of the…


Courtesy of Joy Ismail

On my 23rd birthday, I walked across a stage in a beautiful red robe to receive my Master’s diploma.


Unsplash/The Xylom Illustration

This story is inspired by J. Drew Lanham’s “9 Rules for the Black Birdwatcher” on Orion Magazine. Alex Troutman assisted in the creation of the story.

1. Birds flock together for safety and community; Black female birders MUST do the same and for similar reasons. Not only does it greatly enhance the birding experience, being able to share notes and stories, but increased visibility and numbers never hurt when out and about, whether in the woods or in a residential area.

2. Form precedes function, or form follows function? Don’t let others tell you what’s “proper” attire. Do you think…

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All scientists are humans. Humans tell stories. The Xylom is the place for scientists to tell their stories.

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