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bsharpe269 last won the day on May 1 2015

bsharpe269 had the most liked content!

About bsharpe269

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    Cup o' Joe

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    East Coast
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    Computational Chemistry
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  1. Lab Joining Dilemas

    Thanks for the advice guys! It is very useful to get opinions of others who are further along in their PhDs in these sorts of situations. I think I have come to like lab 4 even more since I wrote this a month ago! It really is a great fit all around. Also, the PI has made his interest having me join the lab clear so I don't think that he is using funding as an easy way to turn me down. My background is outside of what they do but compliments it. I think that we both see the combo of his expertise and my background as an opportunity to do really cool work. Though before I move forward with the mindset that I want to join that lab, I will confirm this and make sure we are both very interested in figuring funding out. As far as other funding opportunities go... I am in the process of applying for a F31 and a couple other things. I'm putting a lot of effort into these applications so hopefully it works out. I have a MS already so I'm ineligible some others like the GRFP. Also, unfortunately TAing isn't an option in my department. I'm not sure why... maybe because we are in a med school? We are funded through an NIH training grant when we start and then its expected that we are funded by our PI unless we get external funding. I think my plan is to first chat with the lab4 PI again and confirm that we are on the same page. If so, then I'll put everything I've got into my grant applications and hope that either that or the PI's funding works out. In the meantime I'll talk to the PI about alternative possibilities like a co-mentor situation. I could see if lab 2 or 3 would be open to something like this. If all of that fails then I'll guess I'll have to choose between joining either lab2 or 3 in the fall. I'm hoping for the best!
  2. Lab Joining Dilemas

    I'm finishing up my 1st year in a STEM PhD program and am nearing the point where I need to choose my lab. I am frustrated with my lab situations and at a loss of what to do. If anyone can offer input then I'd really appreciate it. Lab 1: Full professor. Solid Funding. Well known in the field. His students graduate with lots of papers. Great research fit but I was very uncomfortable throughout the rotation and the PI clearly wasn't a fan of my introverted personality. If its possible to network too much then he does... His students spend around half of their working hours and a couple evenings a week entertaining speakers (not an exaggeration). He uses connections to his advantage in publishing which I get is normal but I think he pushes it too far though and into an unethical area. I felt VERY uncomfortable in this lab. Lab 2: Also great research fit. New PI but emerging hot shot. Tons of funding. Lab is only a few years old but is already producing very high impact work. it sounds great on paper but I felt very unhappy. On a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is "heavily involved PI" and 10 is "absurdly independent", I want a lab that is a 9-10 and the PI is a 2. I can compromise on most things but I really need independence in my research to feel happy. My creativity felt stifled and I felt like I was in a prison. This PI is a genuinely good guy though and I think he would be willing to meet me in the middle on working styles but i felt so imprisoned and miserable that I'm nervous to give it another try. Lab 3: I liked the PI and lab environment. The research was a poor fit though. I think I would get bored with this work and wouldn't gain many of the skills I really want. Given the nature of the work I would be doing in this lab, I don't even think it would be possible to collaborate to introduce the other skills. So now I am in Lab 4 and it is the PERFECT fit. Hands off yet available PI. I get along great with the other students. My days fly by and the lab feels so homey. My work in this lab would let me combine my current skills with new ones that would make me very marketable. I want to join this lab SO bad. The problem with lab 4 is funding. The PI finds out whether his grant gets renewed at the end of this summer. If it doesn't get renewed then the department won't let me join his lab. It would be beneficial to join a lab earlier than that anyway... it would be ideal to join one in the next few months but I can hold off until the fall semester if I need to. There are a couple relevant outside fellowships I can apply for in the fall but that doesn't help me much now... I'm really unsure of what to do and feel very upset about this. I was unhappy during my first 3 rotations and felt unsure of whether I would find a great fit lab. Now I found one that I love but don't know if I'll be able to join. I'm unsure of how to proceed now. Should I stay in this lab that I love for now while I wait and hope for the best? Do I do more rotations in the meantime to try to find another lab I really like? I've already rotated with all of the clear research fits but I could try to find something else. Should I try to go with one of the labs I've already rotated in? If anyone has advice then please share it! I need to figure out how to proceed and am very conflicted.
  3. School of Medicine vs. Generic Grad programs?

    In my experience, medical schools have tons of money! If you are torn between 2 programs at a school and one is in a medical school then I recommend applying for it. My interests barely fit into medical school research... My program is the medical school but all of the other students in my lab are in programs in the grad school (BME, chemistry, physics). At my school, the med school affiliation comes with a higher stipend, more benefits, and and less course requirements. All sorts of profs with completely different research interests are affiliated with the med school... they definitely don't all use animal models. There are even some purely computational/theoretical labs in the med school.
  4. 2016 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I interviewed (and got an offer) from UW BPSD last year. I didn't end up there but if you have questions about the interview or anything else then feel free to ask.
  5. 2016 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    Hi! I applied to biophysics/computational bio programs last year with stats fairly similar to yours so my results might be helpful. I applied during the 2nd year of a MS program so I did have a year of grad course work with good grades when I applied. I think my research got me into school though and don't think this coursework made a difference For some info on my profile: uGPA: 3.25, science uGPA: 3.0 from decent state school. I had a reasonable amount of undergrad research including presentations, a conference pub, awards. Also had an REU from a top 20 school. MS GPA: 4.0 GPA from mediocre state school. My MS advisors were known/respected in my subfield though. I got a few papers (2 first author), tons of posters, and a couple platform talks from this research. I worked really hard during MS and impressed my advisors and know my LORs reflected this. GRE: 168Q, 162V, 4.0. Anyway, I applied to 10 programs: Univ of Washington, Washington Univ in St Louis, Johns Hopkins, UCSF, Stanford, Univ of Pitt, Univ of North Carolina, Univ of Maryland, Stony Brook, Rice. I got offers from all schools except Stanford and UCSF. I met people who were accepted to these schools at other interviews and they were all undergrad seniors with great numbers and average/unimpressive research experience (none that I had talked to had papers for example). These are of course just the people I met so I'm not claiming that everyone at these schools fits in this description. This leads me to think that Stanford and UCSF might focus put a lot of focus on grades and less on research experience. This is just a guess though and could be completely wrong. If they are a good research fit then you should certainly apply! Feel free to PM me if you have any questions about my experiences with any of the schools I applied to. For example, some schools specifically told me that they don't care about grades at all if above 3.0 or at others I was able to get a feel for which elements of my app they most valued, based on what they kept commenting on. I'd be happy to share if you are considering any of the schools I mentioned. I think you will definitely get some acceptances and even don't think you need to take the GRE again. The schools that will admit you are the ones who value research experience very highly. Your above average but not spectacular quant score won't sway them.
  6. Bad First Rotation - Advice?

    I am struggling with my first rotation as a PhD student. I am coming in with a masters degree and had a terrific lab experience during my masters. I had a hands off yet supportive PI. There were weekly meetings scheduled (that were canceled about half of the time) and otherwise, I never saw him. He let me work how/when I wanted which was great and enabled me to do terrific work. I chose to work way more than was expected and since it was never forced and there was so little pressure, it never actually felt like work. I got multiple papers (2 first author) in great journals and excelled in the environment. In my first rotation, I am having such a different experience. The PI is always around. He isn't "monitoring" when we are in lab but he definitely notices. This makes me feel like I should be in lab longer hours then I want to. I do computational work and am used to being able to mix up my work environment. Since I have very bad ADHD, this is actually important to me. If the lab is loud and I am struggling to focus there then its helpful to have the freedom to go to the library or work from home. Since he is always around, he regularly pops in to ask how things are going. I hate this... I really hate it. He asks because he cares and wants to help but I feel like I can't do my own thing for a minute. He'll ask if I have new results multiple times a week. Because he asks for updates so frequently, I feel the need to churn out results as fast as I can, at the expense of taking time to read or full understand something. Its clear that his favorite student in the lab works like that... comes into lab from 9-6 and codes nonstop during that time. He goes to the PI with every result and they interpret it together. He goes to the PI anytime there is a problem and they trouble shoot together. It seems that this is what he sees as an ideal student. I've gotten to the point where going into the lab feels completely miserable. I know the PI will be in and out and people will be talking and I'll be distracted and get little done. I've slowly been pushing the limits on when I get there and leave, trying to work elsewhere when I can so that I can go a day without giving updates and have some quiet time to do and enjoy science. I guess what worries me at this point is that I don't know what is "normal"? Was what I experienced for my MS more normal or should I expect to work like this in science? I feel so miserable currently. Ive been trying to be flexible and work in this environment but no matter how hard I try, its like every day I dread going in more than the last. There are other labs that I plan on rotating in too but I feel ridiculous for being so miserable in the lab, especially when plenty of other people have horrible lab stories. I have a super nice lab and super nice PI but the PI is just SO constant.
  7. Adopting a pet as a master's student?

    I have dogs but it is also a big time commitment so I can comment on the general topic of having animals in grad school. I just started my PhD a month ago. Half way through my masters degree I got 2 dogs. It wasn't planned in my case... One of the dogs was a stray and I took her in briefly until I could find her a home and we ended up getting attached. About a month later I realized how poor of care my sister was giving her dog who had been in the family for >5 years. I didn't want to see him getting such horrible care (his nails got so long that it was painful for him to walk, he wasn't on heartworm prevention, etc) so I took him. Luckily both dogs are under 20 lbs which greatly increases housing options. I absolutely love having my dogs. It is definitely a lot of work but it is manageable, even in grad school. I get to spend nights and weekends working on the couch with a pup curled up on either side of me. In my opinion, the main things to consider (which many people have already discussed) are: Housing: Your housing options will be slightly more limited but even with dogs, I was able to find a place for us near my new PhD school without a problem. My housing situation has involved compromises... I personally prefer to live alone and would rather live a bit further from campus since my school is in a city. I ended up finding a place right near campus so that I can easily let the dogs out during the day (so not what I would prefer). Getting a place so close to campus came with an increase in price so I am sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with a roommate. This living situation would not be my first choice but is definitely not horrible. The company of the pups is definitely worth the compromises. Your time: If you will be at school or in the lab all day then you will need to make sure you are home most evenings so the pet isn't alone all of the time. You could get 2 animals who are able to keep each other company to help with this some. I find myself turning down invites to hangout with people if I have been away from the dogs too much. Since I am not a super social person anyway, I am fine with this. Sometimes I even appreciate having an excuse to say no. If you are the type of person who really values a busy social life though then this could be a problem. Money: Animals are costly and you will want to make sure you savings in case of emergencies. Again, I don't mind the expense. I would rather cut back on eating out or other expenses to be able to afford the dogs. I personally think that pets and grad school can mix very well! I love having dogs and might even consider getting a 3rd and some point during my PhD!
  8. Masters before PhD or straight into PhD from undergrad?

    As someone who has done an MS and started my PhD about a month ago, I can provide someone info on how it has helped me so far. If I had to do it all over again, I would without a doubt to the masters first again. For me, none of the masters credits are transferring so it isn't going to speed me up in that sense but it has put me SO far ahead academically. I worked my butt off during my masters and got 2 first author publications and 1 middle author one. I also presented at multiple conferences where I got to know many of the big name people in my field. This is in addition to the publication and presentations I had from undergrad. As someone who wants an academic job one day, it is great to already have all of this on my CV. As one example of how the MS has helped me, I recently submitted an abstract for a conference this fall. The two 2nd year grad students who are in the lab that I am currently rotating in also submitted for the same conference. I was asked to give a talk based on my abstract and one of the 2nd years also was (he also got a masters before the PhD) while the student who went straight from undergrad was declined. It is definitely not common for 1st year PhD students to speak at this conference. I feel excited and lucky that I get to! I am also getting emailed by multiple professors, asking if I will consider rotating with them. Some of these professors have reputations for being very picky about who they will admit to their labs but their interest in me simply stems from my already strong background in their work that I got from my masters degree and having met them at conferences during my masters. I also notice a huge maturity difference between those who came straight from undergrad and those who waited a couple years. The students who came straight from undergrad goof off on their computers and phones during seminars or get on facebook while in the lab. This obviously isn't true of everyone who came straight from undergrad but there it is true of many. I don't think that a MS is the only or even best way to get the head start and skills I mention above but I do suggest taking some time to get more experience. It sounds like you can get into good PhD programs now with your current application but I do not know a single person who regrets taking a couple years off. Most people find it very helpful!
  9. Lab rotations: expectations and norms?

    I don't have answers for you but am in a similar position and am also interested in this topic. I am interested in knowing how much progress is expected on projects to make a good impression with the PI. I get that there isn't an absolute answer to this. Generally speaking though, is significant progress expected or do the PIs usually just want to see that you self-teach, are a hard worker, etc?
  10. Frustrating GRA Situation

    When I look at this situation from an employer/employee relationship then I come to different conclusion. Let's say I'm an employee for company, they overpay me and never assign me more work despite my repeated attempt. you stop working for them completely and don't hear anything from them for months. They can't come to you 6 months later and demand you stop your other job or temporarily juggle both to do more work. They certainly can't demand you fly from another state at your expense to work for them. They can demand you repay them if they would like but that should be the extend of their ability to request things from you in my opinion. Also if a project is put on hold, that is not the fault of the student. The student is not expected to take time off from their job and fly back to their old location at their own expense to finish a project that stalled 6 months ago. That makes no sense? How is this the OP's fault? They aren't making excuses... They literally moved to a new state! Sure they should pay back the money but they aren't expected to fly around the country to do work after they move and start a new program.
  11. Frustrating GRA Situation

    I agree that the easiest thing to do is to offer to pay back the money but if everything you say you is true including that you made it clear you could only work for 1 semester, you asked many times for additional tasks, and that he knew you were moving then I think it is incredibly rude for him to contact you now and ask you to work. In my experience, what you describe is very common in academia. Although I have been paid "hourly" for research, I have never ever kept tabs on my hours. I was paid for 20 hours per week for work all last year. Some weeks school would get busy and I would work less than 5 hours. Other weeks I would have lots of time and work 40+ hours. My professor knew I was dedicated to the project and I produced strong results. Some weeks I was in a situation you describe where I would spend a couple hours starting up some simulations and couldn't do much else until they finished. In my opinion, this is how research works. I definitely don't think you need to fly to your old location to meet with professor B. If you tried many times to do the work and were never given any then Professor B doesn't get to make you a permanent slave and demand things at his leisure until you complete the hours. I would politely tell professor B that you are swamped at the moment and don't have time to help out and ask if you can refund the money.
  12. Should I take a gap year?

    I think whether it is worth it to you is a personal decision. Its hard to give advice since we don't know exactly what you want out of life. Is your goal to be a PI as fast as you be? If so then taking a year off probably isn't a good idea. Is your goal to do math research that you find fulfilling and enjoy? If so then I think that taking a year off to do math research fits perfectly with that goal... I don't think you should make big decisions like how to spend a year of your life based on how it will help your chances of getting into grad school. We can guess but we don't really know your chances. If you think that taking a year off in Moscow will be something that you enjoy, will improve your resume, and will let you do math research (your professional goal) then why not? I see no downsides and many positives. I'm not really sure why it would matter whether you go into a grad program "on time." There is really no such thing. People go to grad school at all different ages. I believe the average is around late 20s so by that metric, you would be going to grad school early. I just started my PhD at 25. Taking a few years off has none nothing but help me. I did research I loved (my goal in life) in the mean time and was able to get a couple solid first author publications. It was time well spent and now I am incredibly prepared for my PhD. I agree that there is nothing wrong with shooting for top programs. I'm at a top 10 program in my field. I probably wouldn't have gotten in without taking time off however I didn't take time off because I wanted to get in. I took it off because I wanted to spend a few years improving myself as a researcher before jumping into the PhD.
  13. weird situation with professor

    FinallyAccepted, I do think you're right that the OP just graduated from the program. This doesn't affect my opinion on whether this issue should be reported. I definitely think it should, even if for no other reason then to let the school know in case similar students experience harressment so they know it's a pattern.
  14. Advice for where to apply

    I went to an unknown school and was accepted to several of the schools on your list. I would apply to the schools you have listed here. I don't think you need fall backs.