talk to a REF

How do I get in touch with REFS?

Get a hold of us any way that’s most convenient for you. Browse our personal blurbs on the “who we are” page and shoot one of us an email or a DM on Slack. Know one of us personally? Text or strike up a conversation and mention you’d like us to respond in our capacity as REFS. 


Don’t have the energy to figure out who to reach out to? Email all of us at once at with the general topic you’d like to talk about and we can figure that out for you.


What can I say to a REFS?

Have a conflict with a labmate? Roommate? Struggling with mental health or work-life balance? Not sure which lab to join? Which classes to take? Your parents getting on your case? Your PI getting on your case? Just want to complain about your week?


We can talk about literally anything. REFS are a confidential resource, meaning anything you say to us in an official REFS capacity (for example, if you’ve requested a one-on-one meeting) never leaves that meeting without your consent. Conversations can be BCS-related or MIT-related or completely unrelated to school or lab at all. We’re here to make your life a little less stress-free, whatever that means to you.


What can REFS do for me?

Listen: This is our first role, and what we’re most specialized for. REFS training is focused on actively listening to our peers and providing emotional support first and foremost. If all you need is a shoulder to cry on, someone to vent to, or to express some thoughts out loud, that’s what we’re here for.


Brainstorm: If you’re at a decision point, or not sure what to do, we can help you come up with a solution. We’ll ask questions, think through potential outcomes, and generally problem-solve with you. 


Navigate: MIT is a big place. There are so many student support resources both within and outside BCS, it’s hard to keep them straight. We’re versed in which resources may be best for your situation and can help point you in the right direction.


Advocate: Some situations are tough to go through alone, and we understand that. REFS can come with you to meetings with admins or an MIT support office if you’re not comfortable going alone. We can also meet with or ask questions of these resources for you anonymously if you’re not comfortable going at all. We can hold your hand or do all the talking or just be a witness, whatever you need. 


We also work closely with BCS Gradvocates to work with department leadership on making our department a welcoming place where you can thrive as a neuroscientist. 


What if I’m not sure what I need from REFS? 

That’s no problem. We can sit in silence, talk about our own experiences, listen to your stream of consciousness, or pepper you with questions. Each REFS has their own style, and if you’re not sure what will help we’re all more than happy to have an unstructured conversation and see where it goes.