I am targeting applying to PhD programs in BioE/medical engineering either in the Fall of 2015 or 2016. I am considering applying to schools in the top 20 and HST MEMP is my top choice. However, I have no publications yet and I think my research experience is pretty light with a good portion of my research in industry (biotech). I am also worried because I have taken a few gap years and am concerned about the strength of my recommendation letters. I am hoping to use my writing skills, which have been recognized as a strength by my professors, to my advantage on the personal statement to try to help mitigate these shortcomings. Any suggestions on how to improve my profile/application would be helpful. For example, would it be useful to go for a MS somewhere first to get more academic research experience before applying to a PhD? Thank you for your help and any suggestions.
Undergrad: MIT (Engineering, not BioE though)
GRE: September 2014
Research: 5 months synthetic bio research (project won best in medicine track in an international competition), 5 months research in genetic engineering, 2+ years of biotech industry research in drug delivery, cell culture, protein purification
EC: STEM mentor & tutor, multisport varsity athlete, multiple leadership roles in undergrad groups, leadership program graduate in industry
Other: Experience with biomedical startup dynamics, have successfully taken HST and premed courses as an undergrad, won department awards in engineering and humanities
Programs I am interested in: HST MEMP, MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Cal/UCSF, JHU, Duke, UCSD, Northwestern, Rice, UPenn, Yale, Michigan, GT