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biotechie

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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. Any research experience is good experience, and you have more than many students coming into grad school. I think your current experiences make you a good candidate for graduate school. However, if you're interested in those other areas, it doesn't hurt to try and get into labs studying those things. If you decide to stay in the lab you're in now, though, you can just state your interest and try and attend relevant seminars on the areas you're interested in.
  2. biotechie

    I need help choosing a lab!

    Write a pro-con list for each lab and see if that helps. Then think about what would happen if you asked to join one of those labs and they told you no. Would you be more disappointed in not going to Lab #1 or Lab #2? In addition, as long as you're reasonably interested in the project and know that you'll get good training, the most important things become how you interact with the mentor, the lab environment, and funding. You can pursue your dream projects later. It seems like you may have some concerns with Lab #2 as far as environment and that you have concerns with Lab #1 as far as field. It makes me happy to see that you're not discounting the new PI just because she is new; I'm someone who joined a lab with a brand new PI, and it has been nothing but a positive experience.
  3. I definitely did not misunderstand; even new postdocs need to be attending conferences in my opinion. In fact, I'm attending a conference in November. I will either have JUST started my postdoc the month before or will be getting ready to start it. That is about as new as you can get. In my mind, going to the conference would be nonnegotiable. I would go no matter what. As a new postdoc that might be applying for faculty positions in 3-5 years, you need people to see your face, learn who you are, and watch you develop. Like others have said, it is okay to talk about your PhD work, especially if it is published. You can even talk about what you're bringing from that into your new lab. It is okay to say, "I've recently started a postdoc in X lab, where I'm bridging the gap between my PhD work, A, and how it contributes to B in my new lab," if you've been okayed to talk about it. I've actually talked to people at conferences before who were like, "Well, I just started in this lab." We end up having an interesting conversation about their previous work and their current stuff. I think you're sweating being new, and you really shouldn't. You DID earn a PhD, and everyone at that meeting is going to know that science takes time. Granted, if I were worried about experiments, I would schedule things out. I would make sure I hit the important talks and all of the poster sessions. And I would schedule myself to go to at least one social mixer for networking, but I might spend still some time in lab. I always have a notebook with me at meetings. People think it is for me to take notes, but I'm usually planning out experiments and noting important protocols that I need to learn to do an experiment. You're still being productive by going to the meeting, even if it feels like you should be in the lab. I don't know your department head, but I know the ones I know would expect to see me at the conference no matter how long I'd been working there.
  4. I would definitely attend. I recently attended a conference that I wasn't presenting at, and word got out that I was looking for postdocs. As a result, I did four unplanned interviews at that meeting. I also found some interesting new collaborators for my current lab and met the editor of the journal my paper was being reviewed at. All of these were extremely beneficial interactions that I never anticipated. You never know when you're going to meet someone who will be on the fellowship review committee or who might be reviewing your paper. It also never hurts to meet new potential collaborators. Finally, don't you want to see what is going on in the field? I always get so many good ideas at a conference and come back energized for science. That said, you have to go into the meeting with a game plan. If you REALLY don't want to be there, it is going to show, and you're not going to have those positive interactions. You're also going to leave people with bad impressions. Take a hard look at the schedule. Identify talks you want to see and people you want to meet. Then make it a point to go to the talks and to meet/talk to the people. Networking takes a great deal of effort. Make it a worthwhile and fun experience.
  5. biotechie

    What else should I learn to get into a PhD?

    The MOST important thing you can do (even more important than having stellar grades) is to get into a lab as an undergrad and actually do some research. I had the opportunity to help with admissions one year, and that is definitely something they look for! Summer Research Experiences for Undergrads (REUs) are okay, but they're not really that great for building confidence in your research ability. In a 6-8 week REU, all you really do is learn the basics of a technique, but you don't really get into much real science. What would be better would be to spend a whole academic year, 20 or so hours a week, working in a lab either on a small project or with a grad student/ postdoc on their projects. This will get you into the nitty gritty of science, making your troubleshoot and come up with new hypotheses. Basically it will help show yourself and the AdComm that you get what science will be and are likely cut out for grad school. If you've already graduated, work as a tech for a year or two before you apply to grad school. You'll thank us for it, later. I know for a fact that my 6 years research experience (4 years undergrad, 2 years MS) are what got me into grad school, despite that my 3.6 GPA was lower than some other applicants. I also know that there have been people that have been rejected from programs with 4.0's because they didn't have research experience. Remember for Biomed PhD programs, they're going to be paying you to do the research. Having research experience helps show them you're worth taking the chance on. What they don't want are people who go to grad school without knowing what to expect as a researcher and then dropping out. Does that make sense?
  6. biotechie

    Ask questions about the PhD application process!

    It should NOT hurt your application. If it does, you don't want to go that institution, anyway. While a lot of PIs still want their students to go into academia, they and the institutions have to be realistic about where their students will end up. That's why my institution, BCM, now has an awesome career development center to help students figure out what skills they need to hone for their future careers.
  7. biotechie

    Houston, TX

    If you live on the bus route or rail to school, it is pretty good. If you want to use it as your only mode of transportation, it is not so good, so it is good news that you have a car! I like using the rail for events like the Rodeo or to get downtown, but other than that, the only time I use it is for getting to lab. Uber/Lyft are also pretty good. I lived outside of the 610 loop for my first two years, and I would avoid living that far out. It was a 45-minute bus ride each day, and now that they've changed the bus route, is a 45-minute ride + a 20-minute walk or 8-10 minutes waiting/riding the rail. My friends and I have had the best luck renting privately owned condos in a little area called "Condoland." This is near the Dental School mostly down Cambridge Street and along Old Spanish Trail and the "nice side" of Holly Hall (going East from Cambridge). There are also nice apartments nearby, like Stella. Most of these are near the 60 bus route, which drops off throughout the Med Center and runs until 10:20-ish at night!
  8. biotechie

    Alternative Career Paths

    Does your school have a career development center? Mine has one that is only a few years old, but it is already a great benefit for our students that want to leave academia. Students are going into consulting, becoming genetics counselors, teaching, working in policy, and others. Since I want to stay in academia (I know, I'm crazy, but I still love science), I'm helping them gather the necessary information to help build out the academic track. You should see if a career development group or something like this is available to you. They can talk through things with you and help you develop an Individual Development Plan to help you reach whatever goals you have in mind after a couple of meetings.
  9. biotechie

    Ask questions about the PhD application process!

    You're welcome! The stats you see here represent a very small proportion of the applicant field, and honestly, after seeing the stats here, many people choose not to share theirs because they think they don't "measure up." Based on what you've said here, unless you have some weird black mark on your record, you should definitely be able to get into a graduate program somewhere. If you limit yourself to schools that have strict cutoffs for GRE and GPA, you might have less luck, but I think that sort of system is a poor measure of a scientist because the GRE and GPA only measure your ability to take tests, not be a scientist. That's a big reason I regretted one of my applications as I found out later that they were using that cutoff. Programs I applied to that don't: Baylor College of Medicine (Interdisciplinary, but they are restructuring the grad programs starting 2019 admits) University of Florida (Interdisciplinary) University of Utah (Good epigenetics) University of California at San Diego (Lots of good stuff) Feel free to DM me if you have specific questions you don't want to ask here.
  10. biotechie

    Ask questions about the PhD application process!

    Hey there! I got the opportunity to help with recruitment a couple of years ago; we didn't really look for publications. Instead we looked to see that people had worked in labs. Often people have papers as a consequence of experience, but I'd say only about 1/4 of applicants actually had them. I didn't, and my papers from the M.S. STILL aren't published. What seems to be most important is that you understand the research process and that your letters reflect this as much as the dates on your CV. 16 months of solid lab experience looks better to the AdComm than a summer REU at a prestigious university because that means you were in a lab long enough to really learn science. The fact that you will have a M.S. (assuming it is a research-based, science masters) also gives you a leg up. Long story short: Don't worry about papers. Don't defer your application. Just make sure you're a good scientist. Finally, and most importantly, don't view Ivy's as the "best" schools; you may feel happier and more at home at one of the ones you're calling a safety, and you should go where you feel best. If you're interested in a niche field, there are large amounts of people studying things you're interested in at a smaller school, such as UTSW for me in the lipid field. Choose your schools for the program and the PIs (early to mid-career are best) that you want to work under and then aim for Ivy's or big-name PIs for your postdoc when you need less guidance. I'm telling you this from my own positive experience with a brand new PI and from watching my peers struggle in big labs where they get little attention from their mentor. I'm about to graduate with multiple first-author papers and several co-authors, so I'm set up well to get a good postdoc (or industry job).
  11. That matters much more for postdoc than it does for graduate school. I actually recommend joining a smaller lab with a junior to mid-career PI that will have time to really mentor you and teach you how to be a scientist. Then you can go for those HHMI labs when you're a postdoc and are ready to start being more independent. I went to the more extreme end of the "early career" PI spectrum and joined a brand new PI's lab. If you pick a good one (which you should be able to figure out in your rotation), younger PIs and PIs with smaller labs are great. I have been better prepared for postdoc (or even a career in industry) than many of my peers that are in huge labs with well-known PIs. Make sure wherever you choose there are PIs that can teach you the way you learn best.
  12. biotechie

    Post-interview

    Definitely send Thank Yous! Also personalize them, especially if they're someone that you might consider rotating with in the future. Make sure you send them almost as soon as you get back home as most AdComms meet within a week of your interview. Also, if you had a student leading you around, make sure you contact them, too. They will likely also be giving some notes to the committee. In addition, usually there are one or two students directly serving on the AdComm from my experience. I got to serve for one season and I can say it is definitely worth your while if you're serious about the school.
  13. biotechie

    PhD vs. MSc

    I have a M.S. and will finish a PhD in the next few months. While I've chosen to pursue academia as my own path, there are TONS of non-teaching options for you with a PhD that will be more difficult to attain with just a M.S. Do you want to run your own projects in the future? If so, a PhD is probably going to be a better route for you if you want to do industry. If you're happy being part of a group of scientists that work under someone else, you may be able to get by with a M.S. However, we had a lab manager a few years ago that wanted to move into industry. Even with 3 years of experience after his Master's, he still got passed over for PhDs. If you go the M.S. route, you may need lots of experience before you can get the job you want, so if it were me, I might want to do the PhD if I'm going to be spending that time getting experience, anyway. Are you more interested in lab work or writing? My guess is lab work since you specifically state bench work, but there is lots of interest in PhDs who do science writing, both as people who will help prepare your scientific research for publication and/or prereview your grants. Have you learned about consulting at all? Many PhDs get recruited by consulting companies, both science-based and not. Finally, lots of PhD scientists are being recruited to lead science initiatives and promote/do science communication to the public. This ranges from science writing for news sites to being someone who designs curricula or helps secure funding from the government or private donors for scientific research. Nobody is going to be able to tell you, "With a PhD, you can expect to make this much," because PhD scientists go on to do so many different things. The same goes for M.S. but with a shorter ladder to climb. Job prospects are a little easier to give you information on, but only after you have a general idea of what you want to do. If you're unsure but know you want to go to graduate school, I advise you to find a school with a good career development center. While only a few years old, the Baylor College of Medicine Career Development Center is exceptional.
  14. Both are great schools, but there's a lot more that needs to go into this decision. For example, if you're interested in lipids and cardiovascular disease, UTSW is going to have some great labs, but if not, it could still be a good school. Have you heard back from all of the places to which you applied? Which program design do you like best? Are both similar? Will they prepare you for the career you are interested in pursuing? Are there more professors you're interested in working with at one institution over the other? How likely are they to be taking students next year? Where do their students end up after graduation? You also need to factor in cost of living, whether you want to stay closer to family, if your significant other can move with you, and whether you actually want to live there.
  15. 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.
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