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biotechie last won the day on June 5 2017

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About biotechie

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    Cell and Molecular Biology

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  1. I did not include citations in any of mine, but I was applying biomed, not bioengineering. Also, check the prompt for each school's written parts closely. I did not go into my research in detail in any statement of purpose as mine asked me to talk about why I'm motivated to do science and my aspirations, not what research I had done. Some asked me to talk about research I wanted to do, but half of my schools had a separate research statement or summary that I was to submit about my previous experience.
  2. Best apps for grad school?

    I LOVE Mendeley! I actually tried Zotero, first, but ended up liking Mendeley, better. I highly recommend it! Check with your school; mine offers us encrypted cloud storage space, which is really helpful for working from home! Note you'll lose that space when you graduate if your school offers it, so you'll want to do a good backup!
  3. Spending most of the stipend on housing?

    The thing the original poster did not mention was what field they are in. "Fully funded" stipends vary in definition by field, and for some, they only fund you for 9 months and you're off in the summer or may still require you to pay a couple thousand dollars in fees. In my case, my biomed program is year-round and our projects require so much work that we cannot work other jobs. We're paid as part-time, 20-hour employees, but we're working far more, so they really have to give us enough to live on. I actually don't know any grad students in my field that have taken out student loans to "fill gaps." Everyone I know around here is able to live reasonably comfortably. I have my own apartment close to school and spend about 50% of costs on living expenses. I don't live like a queen, but I make enough to provide what I need, make a car payment, and go on a short vacation each year (or in the case of this year, get married). One thing that is different about my program than some others is that healthcare is included, and doesn't come out of my stipend. This, and the total amount of my stipend, may be the difference between my biomed program and your biology program. However, I would not go somewhere where the stipend is not enough to have the necessities. If you're paying more than 3/4 of what you make in rent and basic living expenses, I would probably not have accepted that offer and would have chosen a different program. One thing to remember, as has been mentioned by others, is you need to establish what you need (over wants) and how much those needs are going to cost. I decided fast internet was a need so I can video chat with my long-distance fiance each night, but I decided to forgo cable because it isn't something essential to my life. I didn't need brand new, stainless steel appliances, a huge pool, and a state of the art fitness center, so I went for an older condo with older, working appliances because I wanted to live on my own, which shaved off about $400 in rent for me a month. However, I could have gotten a roommate and saved even more, and this is something I highly recommend. I don't wear name-brand clothes, but I save enough that I get to go for a good shopping adventure every once in a while. You get the picture.
  4. Listing presentations on resume?

    This just sounds like Journal Club, and I would say that does not count. You wouldn't list others' publications on your resume, would you? The same is true for presentations on others' work. The only presentations listed on my resume and CV are those that include research I participated in. As I'm getting more senior in graduate school, I'll soon start weeding out presentations that were for departmental seminars and leave only those at meetings, etc.
  5. undergrad grunt work?

    I've had several undergrads (and high school students) come through the labs I've been a part of, and their experience are all similar to what I experienced when I started out. When I started as an undergrad researcher, I started doing things just as you are... taking out biohazard trash, cleaning benches, maintaining equipment. Then I moved on to handling and weaning the mice, genotyping, etc, then to sterile techniques for mammalian cell culture, and finally I started my own projects, but that took about 6 months. They cannot (and should not) let you start contributing to their expensive experiments until they know you've learned enough to do the experiment appropriately. This is far different than most psychology research studies, and you have to build a skillset for this. No matter what people say, doing experiments in the biology lab is not the simple step-by-step that it is in your classes. You have to put in quite a bit of time to learn how things in the lab work and what needs to go into an experiment. Remember that their experiments are going to be funded by grants. That funding is limited and experiments are expensive. In addition, wouldn't you hate to generate some "data" that derailed the direction of the lab only to find that it was wrong later because you didn't do it correctly? I've seen this happen, and it isn't pretty! It takes a lot of experience with seemingly menial things to do well in the lab. Cleaning up biohazard trash means you're less likely to contaminate yourself with a virus, etc when you're doing a real experiment. You might spend a couple weeks pouring gels for western blots for people in the lab to use, which seems menial, but now you have a valuable skill that is one of the most important parts of a protocol that you likely won't mess up when you get to run a real experiment. Also, 20 hours is nearly nothing. That's the minimum amount my current PI allows for time for undergraduates in the lab. If they can't be in at least 20 hours a week, they're not going to get to join the lab because they won't ever be able to get anything meaningful done except for what you call, "grunt work." Was your 20 hours in a single week? If you've only alloted 5-7 hours to lab a week, you're only going to get grunt work. This is because experiments take a lot of time! A western blot takes about 6 hours the first day and 4 hours the second day with some incubations in between. That doesn't count the 3 hours it takes to prep protein for the blot, or the 6 hours I spent dissecting mice to get the tissues for the experiment, or the 2 hours a day I spent treating mice for two weeks before the dissection. That's just one experiment. A typical grad student has 3-4 of these going on at a time while also doing data analysis on the previous ones. In our lab, we expect an experienced undergrad to handle one of these on their own (with guidance from a grad student). However, we don't let them do an experiment like that right out of the gate. They have to do exactly what you're doing first so they can show that they're committed, but most importantly that they're careful and they can follow direction. Once they show that they can do this, I start them with small, bacterial cloning experiments for things we need in the lab. If they do a good job, they get to move up to something more exciting. I have a high school student, now, who moved up to doing mouse experiments in about 2 months, and she's an author on my last paper. Don't be so negative. I would not call what you're doing suffering at all; in fact, I think it is quite nice of them to have you handling biohazard trash rather than starting with gross dissection (or worse, poop processing). If you're disgusted by biohazard trash, which should be nicely bagged or boxed up so you just have to close it and autoclave it, then I would question how well you will be able to handle the real experimental work. Mice are gross, and if you're not working with those, you'll be working with human samples, bacteria, viruses, or cell llines, which can also be quite stinky and gross. You need to evaluate if you're going to be able to deal with these things. Finally, your reasoning for being in the lab might affect what you get to do. If we get someone that is just fleshing out their resume for med school, it is usually obvious even if they don't tell us; they're usually not as committed to being in the lab when we need them and don't do A+ work on what we assign them to do. Because of this, they don't do as well with the grunt work, and usually get a smaller project, if any. However, if a student wants to go to grad school or is genuinely interested in research, they're also usually willing to be in lab a little more and they really put in the effort. Those are the students that get the cool projects because they ask for things to do, they ask questions about the research, they raise their hand in lab meeting, they read papers, etc. If something goes wrong with their experiment, these are the students that come up to you and say, "Well, this didn't work, but here are the things that could have gone wrong and here's how I want to troubleshoot it." If that's the kind of project you're wanting, you need to be that kind of student. If you're still concerned, send me a message. I'd be happy to talk more with you about this. You should also talk to the faculty member in charge of your lab, but don't be disappointed if they tell you everything we've just told you.
  6. Ask questions about the PhD application process!

    I did not, and I don't push people to do so if their program has rotations. If you don't word it properly, it can come across weird, and I also like to talk to people about things like that in person, which is something I got to do at my interview. Don't get too hung up on picking the perfect project for your PhD; the most important thing is to find a mentor who can teach you in the way you need to learn, a lab environment that you can work well in, and a project that will both get you the publication(s) you need to graduate and the skills you need for your next step, whether that is postdoc, industry, or something else. If I had only rotated with the PIs I was interested in, I would not have met my current PI as they weren't even at the school, yet. I even changed fields and am now in love with this one, so I'll stay in it. However, as you're in neuroscience and those skills are highly technical, I would recommend you don't change fields because it would be really hard to get back into for postdoc. I'll look for the "perfect project" or "perfect corner of my field" for postdoc, which shapes what I'll do the rest of my life more strongly than my PhD studies. What you should do is make sure there are several faculty at the school you're thinking of attending that have projects you think might be interesting. Perhaps not all of them are taking students, but there will be a few that are. Check online and see what their funding situation looks like. Then check their publication record and try to get a handle on how their students/postdocs are doing. Publications will usually help with this, but a lot of labs also publish awards and graduation events on their website. These are the things I did for the PIs I was interested in, though I didn't contact them until I accepted my offer as the program had over 100 faculty to choose from, so I was sure I could find someone good. If you're very sure you want to attend there, reach out to the PIs to find out if you would be able to do a rotation. I would only schedule the first and second as you may meet some PIs when you get there that are doing more exciting things. It is a little late to do so now as it is close to the April 15 deadline, but still worth a shot.
  7. 2017 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    As a current student at BCM, I can attest to it being a great place to do research (as are the other places in the Texas Medical Center, but I like BCM best). If you're doing a gap year, might as well do a post bacc. BCM has one that pays very well, but the application deadline is April 17! If you can get 3 letters of rec in by the deadline, I highly recommend you apply. I got to help mentor the students in the program this year, and they have lots of tools that help them apply for the next step, which is often graduate school. It also gives you the chance to scout out professors and the program before you apply! In addition, I know you're interested in Micro, but maybe you might also consider an interdisciplinary program like BCM's IMBS program. There are labs at BCM that work on the brain and bacteria or viruses together, but may or may not be part of MVM. These types of interdisciplinary programs give you more flexibility in case you suddenly fall in love with a lab that isn't in your intended research area (like me). Message me if you have questions!
  8. University of Utah Bioscience

    I was just at a conference where there were several University of Utah professors/grad students/post docs presenting; all of the science I saw from them was exceptional and really cool! Ranking doesn't matter as much as you think; what does is that there's good, productive science and good faculty. To a degree, that goes with rankings. However, UofU is a hot spot for epigenetics, and that's NOT something that is reflected in the rankings. I highly recommend them!
  9. dropbox to store and organize articles?

    I was so confused at the beginning; I was like, "Wait, how can you NOT like Mendeley?" It all makes sense, now! Bonus: If, like me, your PI wants to write a paper with you and insists you use Endnote (which he bought for me), you can easily export Mendeley annotations to Endnote. I only had to fix a couple of them to cite along with him.
  10. 2017 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    It mattered very little to me when I applied. I chose programs based on the structure of the program, research support, and faculty I was interested in working with. You need to ultimately go to a school where you feel you fit and can get a good education that will prepare you for the next step, be it a job in industry or remaining in academia. Some will argue that higher ranked schools tend to have better research funding and faculty, which to a degree is true, but they might not have the type of program you need, and the faculty there might not be working on things you're interested in.
  11. dropbox to store and organize articles?

    What do you mean, on your desktop? If you tell Mendeley you want it to store on your desktop, it will, but I send mine to my documents folder on both my mac and PC, and it organizes it in folders by year, and then within the folder by first author's last name. Mendeley does everything for me that you're doing on dropbox in a really painless manner... and it syncs across the four computers I use for me. In addition, even if I just save the PDF with a weird name, it'll go find the PubMed ID and other important information for me. I've used Zotero, and even Endnote, and I find that as far as citation managers go, I still prefer this Mendeley. I haven't reached the point where I have more articles than my free space allows, but when I do, I'll probably be willing to pay for the space. Plus I don't have to make my own references pages as it allows me to cite as I'm writing the paper.
  12. Need Advice on Two-Body Problem

    Even if you plan on marrying them, my advice would be to go where YOU feel that YOU will do best as a med and graduate student. Everyone that I know who moved to a place for their significant other and started a grad program there is not happy with their choice. While my situation is a little different (my fiance stayed back for an awesome job rather than grad school), we are prioritizing our careers now so that we are better suited to end up in the same city one day. We've been long distance nearly 5 years. You can do it, and by saving well, we see each other several times a year for at least a week. This will be harder for your during med classes, but during the PhD portion, so long as you put in hard work, you can get away with some 3-day weekends. For things that you can do to help cope with the distance, check out my post on this thread, and feel free to message me as well:
  13. Living away from your spouse for grad school?

    Since this thread popped up on my feed, I feel I should add my two cents. Backstory: I'm a 4th year PhD student in the biomedical sciences, and my fiance and I have lived apart since the second year of my masters. That's almost 5 years of our 7 year relationship. When I was applying to schools, we had lots of conversations about where I was going to go and what he was going to do as he had just finished undergrad. I was willing to stay near him for PhD if I could get into a school, but we decided that my education and career were important and that I needed to go to the best place for me to get on track. Then I got into a program that I fell in love with. Still, he had to convince me to go without him, citing that I would hate myself if I didn't go (which was true). Shortly after, he got a stellar job, and we decided that it would be best if he stayed where he was, 1000 miles away, to get the experience he would need to score a similar job when it is time for me to postdoc. Now the goal is for us to get married later this year, then graduate in the 6 months after, and he will move with me for my postdoc. This should put both of us on track for our careers and have us set up well after I graduate. It seems hard, and it definitely is, but it is worth it. When I interviewed, I actually got asked if I had any ties that would keep me from coming, and I responded that, while my boyfriend was staying back home, I was serious about my education. If they don't ask, I wouldn't bring it up unless that's the reason you're rejecting their admissions offer. Even then, I probably wouldn't say anything about it. Here are some ways we've been able to stay strong though 5 years of long distance relationship: 1. Video chat: Every. Single. Night. Unless one of us has a conference or other engagement. We turn on the chat and keep it on while we make dinner, while I read papers, etc. It is the closest we've found to mimic hanging out in the evenings like we used to during undergrad. Recently, we've been using to chat. We like this because we can lock the room, and watch netflix or youtube videos together. Right now the service is free because it is in Beta. I don't know if it will always be like that. Previously, we used Google Hangouts, but they're taking out the YouTube shared player. 2. Virtual dates: Along with the video chat, we try to make the same meals a couple of times a month and eat them together over video chat. Sometimes this ends badly for him as I'm the better cook. But this is a fun thing we can do together. We will also sometimes go to a restaurant and have what we call snap chat dates. 3. Send each other random things for no reason: My fiance always sends me little care packages when I've got a deadline coming up. Sometimes there's a local soda I love from home, and other times there are puzzles or a new book. Yesterday I came home to find a dozen chocolate covered strawberries waiting on my step. I send him new ties, random nerdy shoelaces and socks, or weird candies I find around here. It is really fun to send him something just because, and it helps him remember I'm thinking of him. 4. Play together: We play video games together. He totally kicks my ass, every time (because he has more time to play), but we have a blast, and we can do it long distance. We started playing through the original Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. Since we can't play those online, we trade pokemon and battle when we see each other. I know other couples who always have WordsWithFriends, etc. going. In addition, I include him in game nights I have here. You can stream games like the JackBox games on twitch, which he can tune into and play with us. 5. Play apart: Despite doing at least a short video chat each night, we make sure that we also hang out with friends where we're at. These friends become a very important support system. They're the group you can turn to when you have a grad school freakout and you know your significant other is at work (or who help you get plane tickets when said significant other has appendicitis and gets hospitalized or who call your fiance for you when you break your leg). It helps to not rely on one person for all of your emotional support, and it is far less stressful on them when you do this as well. Making sure you have this support system is vital to surviving grad school. 6. Make stress management a priority. Your significant other will thank you: This goes along with #5, but you also can't dump all of your stress on them. For me, this meant joining a concert band. I relieve most of my stress through music as it allows me to emote in a way that science does not. I also volunteer teaching little kids about science. Sometimes I just color or paint. Have a couple of things you do consistently and a couple of things that you do sometimes. 6. Visit as often as possible: For us, this means we see each other at least every 2 months. That doesn't seem like very often, but he will take a 4 day weekend, and I will shorten my normally 60-hour week and also take the weekend. This year, we're going to get to see each other almost once a month due to wedding planning, and so far, we're loving it. You'll want to make sure your credit cards get you good airline miles points, because other wise those plane tickets get expensive! 7. Save some fun things to do with them: I moved to Houston, which is a HUGE city with lots to do. There's broadway shows, NASA, tons of museums, and it is a Foodie's dream. Every time I know he has a trip planned to see me, I find something new and fun that we haven't done yet. That might mean I miss out on doing it with friends, but in the past 4 year's, I've gotten to see him take in his first broadway musical, his first food truck treat, and he's pushed me through some firsts, too. This makes each visit a little more special, and I think we'll keep doing similar things for date nights when we finally move together. 8. The little things matter, and somewhere along the line, these became habits that make us feel cared for: We don't forget to remind each other that we care every day. We say goodnight each night, and good morning each morning. He makes sure I'm safely home each night. I make sure he buys groceries that include vegetables. etc. If I think of more, I will add them.
  14. 2017 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    If you're applying to a program that places students based on rotation, make sure there are other professors that you would be happy to work with before accepting an offer. It isn't worth going to a school where there's only one professor that you like, and they may not even take students next year. And, as I keep saying again and again, it is far more important to choose a lab based on your fit with the mentor, lab environment, and funding than to choose your "dream project." Save the dream projects for your eventual career (which will be longer than your PhD anyway), and focus on getting the training so you have the right skills to kick some ass in your desired career path. Choose your schools for the learning environment and how you think you fit there.
  15. 2017 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I know it feels like forever, but that's actually pretty fast. It may be a couple of weeks or more before you hear, depending on when the AdComm meets! Some schools also make their applicants wait until all interview weekends are done.