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blc073

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blc073 last won the day on December 17 2016

blc073 had the most liked content!

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About blc073

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    Cambridge, MA
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  • Program
    Biological and Biomedical Sciences

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  1. A lot of how competitive you are will come from how well you describe your research in your essays and whether or not your letters support what you say. Based on what you have posted, I am sure you will be in the running for top tier schools, but I am not convinced you will be a shoo-in. Definitely apply to top programs, but include middle tier and safety schools on your list. Also, what are you interested in studying? You are a biochemistry major with experience in pharmacognosy, cancer biology, and metabolism. How are you going to describe those (seemingly random) experiences in a way that is cohesive?
  2. Any publications will be incredibly helpful. A first author Nature publication is outstanding. Congrats! I will say, you better know every single aspect of that paper. You should know why every experiment was done and you should be able to defend every decision. I can see some top tier professors taking your publication as a challenge to stump you.
  3. It is okay to meet with a professor about a rotation without committing to doing a rotation in his or her lab. This process is all about you. Take some time to brainstorm about your interests. This can and probably will change from rotation to rotation. Once you have your general interests listed, look for a few PIs who fit your criteria. Look into a few of their papers, see how many graduate students they have, and find out how many students have graduated from their lab. Send brief emails. "Hello Dr. X, My name is Y, and I am an incoming student in Z Program. I am interested in your work. Do you have time in the next week or two to meet with me to discuss rotation projects." You will either get a response setting up a meeting, a response saying they are not taking students, or no response. Regardless of the response, or lack thereof, send more emails. Meet with the PIs and be prepared to discuss projects. Ask straight up, "if I join your lab, will you have funding to support me?" This might feel awkward, but it is incredibly important. When you meet with the PI, take the time to meet with current graduate students in the lab. Once you have met with a few PIs, pick a lab for your first rotation. Do not let them pressure you into rotating in their lab. For the PIs you do not go with, send them an email saying you are going to pursue a different interest and that you will contact them about a second or third rotation. After you complete your first rotation, rinse and repeat. Each time, reevaluate your interests. I just completed the rotation process and joined a lab in March, so I am happy to talk with you more about the process if you're interested.
  4. Your GRE scores are fine for Harvard BBS. I would not retake the test. Instead, focus your time on summer research, crafting exceptional essays, and solidifying letters of recommendation.
  5. This is an incredibly intense comment. I think I need a minute...
  6. I wasn't trying to call your question stupid, and I apologize if that's how it came across. You asked how confident you can be that flow cytometry will be hot in six years, and I was simply trying to say that there is no way to know. Science, academia and biotech, change as questions change. It's not common for a technique like CRISPR to come along and change the field. And to be honest if you ask a lot of top scientists today, many will say CRISPR might not be hot much longer. Microarray was hot five years ago, now it's becoming worthless. Unfortunately, there are many people who spend six years on a PhD, but that's no way to approach the process. You should plan to finish your PhD in four years. Do this by writing every day from the beginning, preparing early for grants, joining a lab as soon as you can, and making the most out of every rotation. What job sector? You are becoming a scientist. There's like a 50% chance or more that you will completely change your career plans. Go into your PhD with the goal of becoming a great scientist and an expert in your field. Then decide if a biotech post-doc is right for you. Techniques come from necessity. If your research involves hunting for genes that are being affected by a compound, learn NGS. But don't waste time learning something that will not help your lab. Of course, you can join a lab that employs the techniques you like, but don't join a lab solely for the techniques. You will be unhappy for the next six (!) years. You are on here demanding to know which of three top schools is the best. You then demand to know which techniques to learn. It's just a lot. This will be condescending, so prepare yourself: in a year from now you are going to look back on these posts and think, "wow, I was being a jerk." Take this time to appreciate how lucky you are to have the choices you have, and appreciate the fact that your life will largely consist of hanging out in a cool building in a fun city being paid to poke DNA. Relax and enjoy the process.
  7. It is impossible to predict what will be hot in six years (also, six years?). You should not learn a technique just because you think it will make you a more attractive candidate for jobs. Instead, study what interests you and learn the techniques that will help you examine your topic of interest with the highest resolution. I started grad school with no intention of doing NGS, big data manipulation, CRISPR, or iPSCs, but my sincere interests put me in a lab that does all four. Pick the field that interests you the most, then learn the techniques that will help you do the best science. Use your PhD to learn to be the best scientist you can be. Techniques are secondary to that.
  8. @biomednyc I'm really happy for you! I think you will have a great graduate school career, and I know a lot of fantastic scientists at Penn. As a Harvard student, I think it behooves me to make a few points: 1) We have over 800 faculty from which to choose, so you will find someone who fits your needs at Harvard, 2) I never feel isolated or like I'm just a number. The BBS office treats every student like it's a program with five students, 3) There is no evidence of high faculty turnover at Harvard. I asked about that when I was choosing a graduate program and I was given data that suggest nearly, if not every, junior faculty member at Harvard gets tenure. To corroborate, see this opinion piece. 4) You can, without doubt, get a place in many Boston cities/neighborhoods (e.g., Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Dorchester, Revere, Medford, Allston, Mission Hill) by yourself on the Harvard stipend. Again, this is not aimed toward you to make you feel like you made a bad decision. Simply liking one program over the other is sufficient to make a decision. However, it is important to keep the facts on record straight for future applicants and recruits. Harvard's reputation for being snobby or whatever comes from people perpetuating misinformation. When I told my undergraduate PI of four years that I got into Harvard, he spent thirty minutes trying to convince me to go elsewhere using misinformation like faculty are always leaving, the city is awful, they will look for any reason to kick out a student and save money. None of that is true. Anyway, good luck at Penn! For real, I see a lot of good research coming from faculty in CAMB.
  9. What was the deciding factor for you?
  10. I would try calling the program office. You're more likely to get a straight answer if you are actually talking to someone in the office.
  11. This thread seems to be all over the place. You are unsure about research as a career, mentioning that you might do a master's or medical school. However, you are set on a specific type of research. You also allude to potential problems by asking which field is "easier." Start by determining career type. Do you want to diagnose and treat patients? If so, go to medical school. You can do research as an MD, but you might have to do a post-doc after residency. Do you want to do the highest form of research without direct patient care? More specifically, do you want to show up to lab every day, read articles, conduct experiments, balance two or more projects at a time, present your work at conferences, publish articles, mentor students, and live a life of contemplation? If so, do a PhD. Do you want to do solid research with a deep clinical focus? That is, do you want to see patients once or twice a week while running a research group? Do you want to see patients with serious disorders while working to develop new treatments for those disorders? Do you want to be in training until you are 35 to 38? If so, do an MD/PhD. Those are really your three options if you want to be a career scientist. A master's should be used as a stepping stone because you didn't have enough research experience or as a way to get a job as a staff scientist (not a PI). Once you know which degree program to pursue, you can start looking at specific programs. Never apply to a program to work with a single professor. Unless you are applying directly to work with that person, you will likely end up in a different lab. Apply to programs with three to five professors doing research you like. If you are applying to medical schools, apply broadly and go where ever you get admitted. The field you choose is based on your experiences. If you have done human genetics research and you know that is what you want to do and you cannot fathom doing anything else, apply to programs specific to genetics. That applies to any type of research. However, if there is any chance that you will want to do something else (sounds like a real possibility based on your post), apply to larger programs or programs without a specific aim. For example, my program, BBS, is an umbrella program. We can work in any field. I rotated in a basic cell biology lab, a cancer cell metabolism lab, and a human genetics and neuroscience lab. I came in with six years of cancer research experience, but I ended up joining the human genetics and neuroscience lab. Overall, you are approaching this issue at the wrong end. You are looking at research areas before you are set on doing research. Take some time to reflect on your experiences. Decide what degree to pursue, then go from there. P.S. If you start a PhD then realize you want to do something else, most PhD programs will let you leave after two years with a master's.
  12. This is my point. It's not a fact that San Francisco has better weather than NYC. Personally, I much prefer the weather in Boston compared to California. Clearly I am more of an east coast person. All I am saying is that each coast has little things that make it more appealing to some people. In the era of alternative facts and Trump, I have to say this is a ridiculous argument. There is just so obviously a difference between west coast people and east coast people, it's unreal. There's the West Coast-East Coast hip hop rivalry, there's the term "best coast" in reference to the west coast, there's a Huffpost article entitled "33 Reasons the West Coast is the Best Coast," there's a Buzzfeed quiz called "Are you more east coast or west coast," I can go on. I actually can't believe someone would dispute the notion that there are west coast people and east coast people. Also, I know you meant well, but I would avoid telling people they are well spoken. It's incredibly condescending.
  13. I think there are fundamental lifestyle differences between living in the Bay Area and living in NYC. People with certain personalities will gravitate to one lifestyle over the other. One's experience at an Ivy League university is not representative of the popular college experience. Furthermore, graduate school is completely different than undergraduate.
  14. I'm surprised he can't live with you in university housing. Most universities allow "domestic partners" to live in university housing. My girlfriend isn't a student, but she's living with me in university housing. They even gave her a family ID card. Anyway, I definitely think a complex is what you're looking for.