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About alion24

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  • Application Season
    2015 Fall
  • Program
    Genetics, Genomics, Molecular Biology

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  1. Hi all, I recently started my NSF GRFP stipend tenure (starting with summer tenure in June), and for the past two months, my stipend has been processed late/irregularly dispensed. I was told that my payment should be administered on the 1st of every month (when my rent and many of my bills are due; and when I previously got paid for my teaching stipend), but in June, I wasn't paid until June 7 because the office had some internal problems with processing my on-time paperwork. This month, it's already the 6th of July, and my payment hasn't even been processed (and it takes an additional 2-3 business days for the payment to post, after that). I realize that there was the holiday weekend earlier this week, but I also have bills to pay... I contacted the payment director for my school, and she said the delay is due to "system upgrade unrelated to our office," and although they realize it's not ideal, I should try to be a month ahead on all of my bills. Recently I've had to use a lot of my personal savings to pay for an international conference (to be reimbursed several weeks later) and a training workshop (where I had to cover airfare). Is there anything that we as grad students can do, if we feel we aren't being paid regularly/on time? Does the NSF have any rules about being paid within a certain time period? The first 2 years of grad school (when not on NSF), I never had so many issues within being paid within a few day time period. Likewise, I can't imagine that would be acceptable for a "normal job" (being paid over a week later, multiple months in a row, without warning). I was thinking of talking to the ombudsman at my university, but I don't know what else I can do... Has anyone else had this experience? Anyone have any suggestions? Do we have any rights at all, as grad students, in terms of being paid in a timely manner?
  2. Hi all, Has anyone attended the Woods Hole Workshop on Molecular Evolution? http://www.mbl.edu/education/courses/workshop-on-molecular-evolution/ I am curious if the program is more biased on training for major areas of molecular evolution/learning how to use popular software, or if its intended to help with data analysis of already-collected data sets. I am trying to decide if I should attend this year (when I am designing my experiments for thesis/have just taken pop gen and quals, and everything is fresh) or next summer (when I have more data). I can see learning what are the possibilities for data analysis being very helpful if it is AHEAD of collecting data, but I also don't want to waste a valuable opportunity to get help analyzing existing data—if that's the true scope/purpose of the program. Thanks so much!!
  3. I am currently studying to take my quals this May, but I know of 3 people personally who failed their quals (physics, biology, and biology) in previous years. It happens, and in general, people don't like to talk about (so just know you aren't as alone as your might feel). All three people were both extremely smart and devastated by the fail. One failed seemingly because of nerves, and the two others were not aware that they were not well-studied enough in particular areas (their advisors were very hands off). All three passed on their second try. Take your exam again, maybe this time around casting a broader net for getting feedback on your potential areas for growth, and take the exam again. Keep you chin up.
  4. It doesn't matter whether other people "think" the hugs were inappropriate or not; it's your body! Personally, I wouldn't want my advisor hugging me (especially around the neck, ew), especially if I thought it was going to evolve into a regular thing. If it makes you feel uncomfortable (as it would personally make me feel), you can either hint or directly tell them you "aren't a hug-y person" (sugar-coating it).
  5. When you are in a teaching/mentor positions above the student, it's highly unethical and gross. I realize this is an old thread, but I was searching the topic, because I was feeling EXTREMELY frustrated by male TAs talking about female undergrads that they felt were "hot" and whom they'd like to date or otherwise (I'm a female TA for the same class). I suspect there is still some sort of gender barrier among certain individuals, when it comes to understanding why it is unethical and crazy sexist to prey on and objectify your students like this. But even if you don't understand: please don't abuse your power as an educator. There are literally hundreds...thousands...millions of people you can date who are NOT your students. Students will frequently be "nice" and friendly to their TAs/instructors/professors because they want to make a good impression/be taken seriously/be part of an academic community/like their academic work/are aware that you are in control of their grades. This should NOT be confused as them making sexual or romantic advances (don't kid yourself and think that these students would be so friendly to you, if you weren't in a position of power over them). As a female in a male dominated field, I had several TAs try to give me their cell phone numbers in case I wanted to get "extra office hours" or make various advances at me (as an undergrad—while they were in control of my grades), and as a graduate student, I've had professors try to do the same. IT IS THE WORST, and it puts you in a horrible lose-lose situation when you are in the receiving end of unwanted advances. It's heartbreaking and isolating, when all you want to do is be taken seriously for your academic contributions, and you not only feel like you're being preyed on, but your grades or career could legitimately be jeopardized, depending on how you react to the advancements. What might be a fun passing whim for you, could be a nightmare to the student. If you are convinced that a particular student is the love of your life and you HAVE to date them, WAIT until you are not in a position of power over them (ie you are 100% positive the student will never be in your class again and you will never have to write recommendation letters for them), before you try to cross that line. Likewise, be VERY frank about your intentions that you want to date them or X, otherwise they may think you're contact with them is an extension of your academic relationship in the class—and they'll be in for a very awkward and unwanted awakening when they realize you have other motivations/plans....
  6. Thank you everyone who took the time to respond. I truly appreciate many of your kindness. I found a fourth lab to do a rotation with, but I'm lukewarm about whether I will be able to devise a thesis topic that I'm passionate about. It's probably too early to tell, but I am at a crossroads of trying to decide if I want to suffer through it, for the sake of getting a PhD, or try the difficult path of transferring. I'm not ready to give up my goal of research/a PhD however. But I do feel that, in order to be more happy, I need to do something to feel more in control of my life and my career path. I originally found a different lab that seemed to be more suited to my interests (and that I was super excited about), but before I could formally join, the department head strangely intervened and told that particular professor that I did not want to work in her lab (which was not true/we never had a conversation about) and she took a different student instead. She went from saying "I would love to have you work in my lab" to "I'm sorry, this is very awkward, but I was told by the department head that you wanted to join a different lab, so I took a different 4th rotation student and I no longer have room." I was about at my wits ends with the seemingly behind the scenes politics of my department, but I have since gotten over worrying about what I cannot control. The whole thing was weird. To answer some of juilletmercredi's questions (that were probably hypothetical): In two of the three labs that I originally rotated in, the students and post docs that I talked to seemed confused as to why the professors themselves were not more eager to take me. In the lab I most wanted to join, the professor told me that several of the students made very strong arguments to her for why I should join, and that she found it very moving. She simply said she felt I would be happier somewhere else (that was more focused on bigger picture biological problems, rather than the more narrow biophysical work that she did). When I asked her for feedback on areas where I could grow, she said she felt I was very aware of my strengths and weaknesses. The particular PhD student in my third rotation, who suggested that I drop out of grad school entirely, seemed to say it in a petty way (she was frequently suggesting that I don't run controls with experiments, don't do particular experiments and don't even do a lab meeting, because she didn't feel like I should join the lab anyway, and why stress myself with extra work...it felt bizarre). After giving lab meeting for my third rotation however, I got several emails from people in the lab telling me that I did a great job. I never got to have a followup meeting with the professor from my third rotation, presumably because she is constantly traveling (and she never responded to an email asking for a followup meeting), and according to her secretary, her schedule was completely booked for several months. When I had a followup meeting with the first professor, he restated that he felt I was "slow" compared to other students. When I asked him to elaborate, he said he felt I pipetted slow and was too easily distracted by my mom's illness—there's little loss, because I don't feel like we were a good match (I wouldn't want to be judged on those factors anyway, even if they were were true). But truth be told, I don't want to join a lab where I don't feel valued or wanted. I appreciate your input Ignis, but I can say with complete certainty that it was not because I was not nice/sociable/likable If anything, I was too nice (and thus either seen as a pushover and/or possibly not intellectual enough).
  7. Sorry this is SO long, but I REALLY appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this!! I am a first year Molecular Biology PhD student in California, and I am amazingly unhappy with how my program has been going so far (ie, I have been miserable and often anxious/depressed). I keep trying to keep a positive attitude, but it feels like no matter how hard I work, things still aren't working out (and I don't feel very supported or valued by my department). I'm trying to be proactive about my anxiety, and I regularly see a therapist. There have been a string of events in my personal life–had I known at the time of choosing at a PhD program–I would have NEVER chosen my current school/program. The biggest event was in October when my mom was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, across the country, in the rural midwest. She has gone through a great deal of chemo and multiple surgeries, and it has been difficult to put a handle on the metastasis. I have been traveling home for every holiday (spending an entire month between December-Jan as well as spring break), and I have gone home for each surgery (for long weekends). I have done this with the blessings/permission of my rotation professors/department head, but it has been truly exhausting. Because of my family's specific situation, I do not have any other family members that can care for my mom 24-7, when she is doing very poorly/right after a surgery (thus part of the reason I want to visit home). My parents tell me upfront that they don't want me to sacrifice my career opportunities (I am a first generation college student), but I know in my heart that they need me (and I need to be with them). I always have such a heavy heart, knowing that my mom and my family is suffering on the other side of the country; I hate being so far away from home. One of my close friends also committed suicide during my first rotation (and he sent me a package in the mail right before he passed away; which I never got a chance to thank him for, since I was "so busy" working in lab), which also gave been a heavy heart. If these personal-life issues were the only issues, I would consider taking a medical leave. I chose not to, however, because I thought it might complicate my NSF GRFP funding/I didn't have the money to keep paying rent in my apartment, without being paid. I powered through, and now that it is the time where we are supposed to "choose" thesis labs, I am finding out that none of the three professors who I rotated with want me to join their lab. It is very distressing to me, because I have tried *SO HARD* to keep everything together, slap on a happy face, and try my best. Despite everything, I still worked 8-16 hours in the lab every day, and I had data for each rotation. When I would go home for short trips, I would work extra hours in the night and entire weekends (getting only a few hours of sleep), to make up for lost time. I was extremely passionate about the topics of research in the labs I rotated in, in I would have been happy to join any three of them. I was extremely thoughtful in choosing my rotation labs. If nothing else, I hoped at least one of the 3 professors would have noticed and appreciated my grit and determination. But I got feedback from the department head that I should "seriously start looking for 4th rotation labs, because none of my first 3 rotation professors 'want' me in their lab." After meeting with each of the three professors, I confirmed what the department head said to be true (they either told me that they didn't think their labs were "where my interests truly lied" or that they thought I should go somewhere were I could get more mentorship). I don't really understand their comments; since I was very enthusiastic about their work and I was increasingly independent, especially towards the end of my rotations (once I had been trained–able to design, carry out, and analyze my own experiments, from scratch). I understand, however, that these are just nice ways of telling me they don't want me in their lab. Adding to this, I even had one professor called me "slow" (in regards the way I think and reflect on problems) towards the end of my rotation (which was a bit offensive, she I am registered with the disability office for being dyslexic–which honestly, I don't feel like greatly effects my work). I have NEVER been called "slow" before in my life. As a different scenario (but equally bothering), a PhD student in the last lab I worked in went out of her way to tell me that she strongly advises me NOT to join the lab, that I would have a very hard time being successful there, and that the professor doesn't even know or care that I exist (harsh!). She told me not to take it personally, because the professor is very busy and has nothing invested in any of her rotation students (in addition to not knowing who they are). She even encouraged me to not give a final lab meeting, because it would save everyone time (of not having to listen to me present); and of course this PhD student is the person who schedules lab meetings for everyone. The professor of course knows who I am, because I had met with her several times one-on-one, and I am still planning on presenting my data in lab meeting. I was so humiliated, however, that I cried in front of this PhD student (mind you this was a few days before my mom was due for another surgery, so I was already extra emotionally vulnerable). I tried my best to be hard-working in this lab, I would ask for help when I needed it, and I got some interesting data–I honestly have no idea what I did to deserve those comments from this PhD student (I didn't even ask for her opinion or indicate that I hoped to join the lab!). Of course, I did not want to join this final lab (especially after these comments/experience). I understand the easiest thing would be to find a 4th rotation lab, but so far, I am truly not interested/passionate in any other labs at the university (and this department makes me feel very horrible about myself). It is a huge source of anxiety for me to be so far away from my family at this time. I have my own NSF GRFP funding, in addition to 2 years of an NIH training grant (I really can't understand why none of the three professors will take a chance on me; they don't even have to pay for me!). I don't feel wanted or respected in my department now, and I feel so misunderstood. I don't expect to be liked by everybody, but I can't understand why I am liked by seemingly no one. I went to a good university for undergrad, worked in several research labs (with publications and good rec letters), did an international research fellowship, and I try to have good people skills/be very respectful, humble and polite (I know it must not seem like it in this post haha, forgive me; I'm just trying to give context to me situation). I have a new publication that will be coming out next year, for a project that I worked on as a senior in college. I don't brag/ever bring up these accomplishments here in my program; I'm just disclosing it here, because I am having such a hard time understanding why I went from being so well-received in my past research experiences to being so-poorly received here. Originally, in addition to this school in California, I was accepted into: UChicago, UWash Seattle (Genomics), Harvard, UNC, and Princeton. I am really kicking myself now, because had I gone to UChicago or Princeton, it would have either been a 2 hour direct flight home or a 3 hour train ride (whereas traveling to/from California takes at least 7-12 hours and is expensive, to get to my family). Is it possible to try to transfer another school (such as UChicago or Princeton)? Honestly, if it weren't for NSF (and the fact that I've dreamed of being a scientist since I was 14), I might consider leaving the PhD path altogether. But I'm not ready to ENTIRELY give up; it seems so stupid to do that, just because I am having such a hard time in my current program (and I don't entirely understand why). I don't want to do a PhD on a topic I'm not passionate about (or in a department where I feel not supported/not wanted), but I have hope that there might be other options. I wouldn't mind having to start entirely from scratch at a new school, since I'm only a first year now. I don't expect my PhD experience to be magically better at a new school, but at least I were to struggle, I would be struggling closer to home. If I were to attempt transferring, would I need to reapply in December, or is it at all possible to contact the department and somehow explain my situation (to transfer)? And out of curiosity: Has anyone had the experience before, where they had NSF, but had a horrible time finding a lab that wanted to take them? What are peoples thoughts? Thank you so much!
  8. Totally read this as "advisor blacked out," the first time around. Anyway, I had a somewhat similar experience. I chose a different school because I wanted a stable PI.
  9. Quick question! I have mostly a genomics background, and when I applied for NSF, I proposed a project under the specialization of genomics. I now think, however, that my phd will end up being more genetics/molecular bio, rather than genomics. Should I change my specialization from genomics to genetics, or does it really not matter? Also, I'm changing schools. What level of detail is expected for the "reason for change"? Thanks!
  10. I can't really speak to which is the better option, but I am also currently a TFA corps member and I did a DAAD fellowship (biology research) in Germany. I would do whatever option better fits your long term goals from a practical standpoint and happiness. CBYX seems like it might be better aligned. I don't imagine that you will have issues with acceptances into professional programs, if you were already accepted into both of these programs and if your experience is anything like my experience with PhD programs in science.
  11. (I was one of the lucky ones that got it ). I am very confused however, what it means to formally "accept the offer." I don't think I am going to attend the institution that I originally put on my application (after doing interview visits, it seemed like other schools were better fits). Also, I originally had my field as "genomics," but it seems that the PhD programs that I liked the most are molecular and cellular biology programs (whereas I would most likely end up doing more of a genetics or molecular biology type project). Do I still push accept and am I able to change the institution later? And how big of a deal is your speciality? Will NSF be accepting of a "genomics" fellow as doing molecular biology work? I am so excited but so terrified of clicking the wrong button.
  12. Dumb question: Does the email they send us have our decision, or are we redirected to sign into fastlane? (I don't remember my fastlane password, opps)
  13. I have a friend who is a current phd student on the organizing committee.
  14. I got word that all the genetics biosciences interviews were already sent out; thanks everyone for their responses in the meantime!
  15. I saw from the crowd source data that a lot of email interviews from Stanford Biosciences went out on Jan 9 (yesterday). If you haven't received an interview email by now, should you assume you won't get one? I was waiting on the home program of Genetics, via the Biosciences. I'm a bit bummed, but also I'd just really like to know so I can proceed with scheduling my interviews for other schools in the area/making travel arrangements. Thanks!
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