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About spaceimmunology

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    Cambridge, MA
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  1. I didn't do this, but there was another tech in my old lab that was applying at the same time who did. Instead of printing out actual figures, she nicely hand drew some illustrations on a single piece of paper and use that to help guide people through her project. From what I heard the response was pretty good and she did get into her top choice, so at least it didn't hurt that much. But from my experience, I don't think it's necessary. You should be able to describe your project without reference to figures. Interviewers care much more about how you think about your project as a whole and your ability to present it as a logical story, than how pretty your gels look.
  2. For most of the east coast schools you're applying to, there will always be a few people for other parts of the country that think the northeast is so much more formal that a suit is necessary. A suit will not be out of place at places like Penn or Cornell (didn't interview at the others on your list), but a nice pair of pants and a dress shirt will be fine as well. For other events, except for formal dinners with faculty, you'll be better of in a pair of dark jeans and a collared shirt.
  3. Can confirm. Just got email from program, all invites went out on Friday and 95 applicants were invited for recruiting.
  4. In my opinion, I don't think a statement of purpose requires any real discussion of concrete science. I don't think adcoms are overly concerned with your ability to come up with good research ideas. After all the purpose of PhD training is to get you to think about science critically and to learn the techniques, though processes, and existing literature well enough to be a full fledge scientist. Instead, I think adcoms are primarily concerned about identifying applicants who are mentally mature enough to take on the challenges of grad school and who's decision to apply for a PhD program was well thought out. In this sense, I think a good SOP is a reflective story about how your academic and research experiences have led you to applying to grad school and what about grad school and science in general excites you and will help you reach some goal in the future. It should convey an examined understanding of your own experiences and how they have shaped your interests and desires for the future. For example, I wrote briefly about three different research experiences and for each I explained what I did, how it broadened my perspective on science, and how it led me to pursue a new question or experience. I then tried to synthesize these perspectives into a coherent understanding of my guiding interest in science, and I explained what aspects of each institution I found to be important and a good match for me. I think your non-standard academic background lends itself to this style very well and you could have a very attractive story to tell.
  5. Current MIT student. None of my letters were from either teaching professors or PIs at my undergraduate institution. I only had letters from outside PIs that I worked with, but I'm pretty sure a postdoc letter will work as well.
  6. There's nothing keeping you out of grad school this year, but I think if you waited a year you'll be able to get into some top tier schools. While a mediocre third letter isn't great, it shouldn't keep you out of anything as long as it's not negative. What you'll really benefit from is a full year working in the lab. It'll make it easier for you to convey your decision to go to grad school and make you more comfortable during interviews.
  7. ECs don't matter for the application. I had none other than a minor volunteer thing listed on my CV. They do help for making small talk during interviews though, but it doesn't make or break anything.
  8. spaceimmunology

    Summer Plan

    Some really good insight here. I've done quite a number of summer experiences in different labs before working as a tech for 2 years in my current lab. Since I didn't really interact with professors at my undergrad, it was nice to have a line up of PIs that I worked under to write LORs for me. What biotechie says about the limitations of REU type experiences is very true. A summer is just enough time to get comfortable doing a few techniques, but not nearly enough to grasp the complexity of a new project or understand it in the context of an evolving field. Going into applications and especially interviews having a year or two working on a project is much more useful in appearing intelligent and ground in reality, you'll be able to tell a story and get the people you're talking to engaged in the details of your project and science as a field. That being said there are advantages of looking to shorter experiences as well, that go beyond additional LORs. I think the most important one for me was that I got to experience a ton of different science, including cancer signaling, cell death, neuro imaging, and epigenetics. I think this breadth of experience has helped me a lot in terms of guiding my interests, building diverse skill sets, and thinking about problems from different angles. Working in other labs and at other institutions will also help you get a sense of different research settings and lab cultures and will help you discover what you like. In that sense, REUs are somewhat like a rotation, and can be instructive for learning about yourself and where you fit. So, I think that if you could easily put a summer experience in without jeopardizing your relationship with your current PI and also continue working with your current PI during the school year that would be the best option. But barring that, you'll learn more from a single long experience than two short ones.
  9. Depends on your situation. Do you have any previous research experience? What field was it? Did you enjoy it and are interested in continuing? Do you have any other field that you're interested in? Does the program you're going to have some particular strong areas that might warrant a rotation to try it out?
  10. Yeah, it's a nice line on your resume, but it won't be a factor that is really taken into any consideration. If you're scores to good enough and your essay compelling enough then you'll get an interview regardless. And if you get an interview, then your grasp of your work and your research interests and overall fit will be far more important.
  11. Also something I'm trying to decide. I have a number of summer experiences in the Longwood area, and none at MIT, but HMS just gave me a really poor impression when I visited. I really liked the community at MIT, the first year program, and the academic feeling of the campus. BBS is nice in that there are many more lab choices, but Longwood just felt too hospital oriented for me. For me, it felt like MIT really got their PIs involved in trying to recruit, while at Harvard I met with many PIs that not only did I not request, but that were completely unrelated to my research interests. It just felt like Harvard didn't even feel like it needed to try. I talked to a BBS faculty member about it and her response was that the size of BBS makes it a problem when it comes to recruiting. That might be true, but overall, it was worrisome to see and I got the impression that MIT was way more interested in cultivating their graduate students.
  12. Attended the second weekend. Heard back tuesday evening.
  13. Will be at Rockefeller for the second weekend? (3/6). Pretty excited about it.
  14. I'm also going! Interview lists are in the welcome packet at building 68. Managed to pick mine up this evening. Can't wait for tomorrow.
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