Get to Know Kristjan
Kristjan Stone is a Technologist in the Cryogenic Instrument and Technology Development Group at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. He has worked on a variety of projects such as a cryocooler for the James Webb Space Telescope, the surface sampling system for the proposed Europa Lander mission, the X-ray source for the upcoming Mars 2020 Rover, and an icy moon broadband seismometer. He earned a B.S. in Physics from UCLA in 2004, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Rice University in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Dr. Stone completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab working on record-breaking far-infrared quantum capacitance detectors. During his time at Rice, Kristjan served as the President, Social Chair, and Parliamentarian of the Graduate Student Association, the President of the Physics & Astronomy Graduate Student Association, and also as Rice’s representative for the National Association of Graduate and Postdoctoral Students. Dr. Stone is a member of the Initiative for Students Commission and has hosted multiple OwlEdge externs. He is an alumni leader for Rice’s Los Angeles regional alumni group including serving on the host committee for the presidential visit to Los Angeles in January 2016. In his spare time, Kristjan enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding, performance driving, traveling and leading volunteer organizations.
What part of serving on the ARA Board are you most excited about?
I feel very connected to Rice, having been a graduate student for six years, and I have been looking for a way to give back more to the university. Serving on the ARA Board is the perfect way to make an experiential contribution, bringing a grad student perspective to the organization. I had the opportunity to speak with the ARA Board several years ago when I was the Graduate Student Association (GSA) president, bringing them up to speed on the state of the GSA and sharing our current concerns. It is exciting to think that now I have the opportunity to volunteer on the ARA Board, and I look forward to helping increase multi-directional communication.
What is your favorite “Only at Rice” memory or story?
One of my favorite memories from my time at Rice started as a frustration. A large percentage of the graduate student population are international, which is part of what strengthens the community, but can also create challenges when trying to unify the student body. At the time, the larger groups hosted their own targeted large-scale events, which was wonderful but made it difficult for smaller organizations to find their voice on campus. As the president of the Graduate Student Association (GSA), I decided to host an international graduate student summit at Rice. One of the most unexpected and amazing outcomes of the summit was the creation of the International Cultural Night, hosted by the GSA. This incredible event, created collaboratively by the summit participants, gave each international organization the chance to be highlighted equally. It still warms my heart to think of this uniquely “Rice" experience: the collaboration, learning and celebration of different cultures — and students empowered and supported to affect positive change.
If you could give one piece of advice to Rice students, what would it be?
I would highly recommend investing in personal relationships. Rice is full of brilliant people, and I’ve often seen people prioritizing work and projects over socializing. Coursework and research are clearly important, but personal connections will make your time at Rice more enjoyable and meaningful. The social skills you develop here will give you a decisive advantage when looking for a job. It’s not about working less hard, it’s about making sure you have balance
Share a positive experience or outcome you’ve had via Sallyportal.
I was lucky enough to recently host two Rice externs here at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Sallyportal was a great way to share pictures and stories from that experience and to encourage others to sign up for the externship program. Additionally, it was great to get positive feedback through the “Like” feature from other alumni.