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Everything posted by madbiochemist

  1. Hello, hello! Another January, another influx of anxious applicants waiting to hear back from prospective schools. I'm a current 4th year BME PhD student at Johns Hopkins and am glad to see that several of you submitted applications here. I'm in Cell and Tissue Engineering, so if you have questions about research opportunities or Hopkins life, feel free to shoot me a message. I can already tell you that my lab will be recruiting heavily this year, as we'd like to accept a few students to replace our growing geriatric population of PhDs. Just wanted to pop in and wish you all good luck! Remember to drink lots of tea and relax--all will come together. -MBC
  2. Just wanted to chime in and wish everyone good luck! I'm a second year at JHU and I'm really looking forward to meeting all the Hopkins interviewees in February! I do cell and tissue engineering research so let me know if you have questions about that program! I can also answer questions about Baltimore as well if you message me. Thanks to Extra Espresso for the great info and hope you've remained well-caffeinated through your first year.
  3. I did a B.S. in Biochemistry and made the switch to a biomedical engineering PhD. You can do it, but you need to take any courses required by the graduate department (usually they require math through differential equations and linear algebra). I think you probably also need to have killer research experience within an engineering lab before graduate school. Then you should apply to a lot of schools. I know (from faculty) that my stats would have qualified me for several schools I was rejected from if only I had an engineering degree instead of a biology degree. Sometimes I also feel a bit behind in my engineering classes, but I can get help from the professors/other students when I need to. You can message me if you have questions.
  4. Yep, I'm on a fellowship and get a 1099-MISC as well. I was thinking about buying a house with my fiance, but we've decided against it for now. Primarily because our lease is up in a few months and I don't want to be worried about house hunting during finals. An interesting option that I haven't seen mentioned yet is that you don't need to sell your house after 5 years. You could turn it over to a management company and let them rent it out until the market bounces back, if you needed/wanted to.
  5. If you're still making your decision know that if you come to JHU, there will be cookies.
  6. Please let programs know before the 15th if you know you aren't going there so that schools can extend invitations to students on wait lists. Schools want a particular class size and it becomes really difficult if we don't accept the alternates until the very last minute (or after the April 15th deadline).
  7. Hi! I'm a current JHU PhD student. You'll want advice on the neighborhoods in Baltimore if you decide to live here. Each neighborhood is different. I live in Mount Vernon and it's really safe; probably one of the safest in Baltimore. It's the historical district and has lots of music, entertainment, and awesome restaurants. A lot of young professionals live here. Consequently, it's also one of the more expensive areas. Fell's point is another really nice one. It's got a lot of bars and restaurants and young people living there. I think you can walk to the School of Medicine if you're in Upper Fell's. Charles Village and Hampden are also really nice, but they're closer to the undergrad campus than the School of Medicine. My point is, there are a lot of really nice, affordable places to live in Baltimore. I wouldn't live north, east, or west of the School of Medicine though. Those areas are a little rougher. On campus is fine because they have police officers sitting in booths about every 1/2 block or more. There are Hopkins-sponsored services that will pick you up from wherever you are on the School of Medicine campus and drive you to the front door of your apartment for free, if you're staying late. The police will always be willing to escort you to your car, if you're nervous.
  8. Yeah, I'd talk to your mentor from undergrad and see if they have suggestions. Since you're switching fields, they might not have a ton of connections, but you never know. Otherwise you can just email professors and see if they're taking post-bac students. Sometimes you can get a lab technician position that's paid, but if you're switching fields you may need to volunteer your time. My lab has two post-bac students and they're both unpaid, unfortunately.
  9. I think you should defer and try to get a fully funded PhD program next year! You can really get a lot done in the lab when you're not in classes so your application will probably be much stronger then!
  10. I live in Baltimore and work at the School of Medicine. Though I wouldn't suggest living right be the SOM itself (not the nicest part of town), Baltimore as a whole isn't bad. There are a lot of really nice neighborhoods that students live in. Other students from Boston, New York, Chicago, and California say living expenses are much much cheaper than many other cities (I'm from Kansas, so it's more expensive than that, but I've never heard of someone being able to beat my $300/month rent and utilities and pet fee). There's a lot of stuff to do for really cheap. For example, I have Baltimore symphony season tickets, which cost $25 for the year. One of the nice things about Baltimore (actually any city really) is that there are tons of opportunities to try and help people and communities.
  11. Is your tuition waived at least? Personally, I wouldn't have gone to graduate school if I had to take on debt for another degree, but that definitely depends on your situation.
  12. I did an REU at UCSD (I worked in the Sanford Consortium, if you toured that). Many of the graduate students left lab at 2 or 3 on Friday to go surfing in the summers. Sure, there will be rough weeks (or months), but I think some of that also depends on your PI wherever you go.
  13. Last year we accepted a few people off the alternate list too. We're looking for a relatively big class this year (2015 we had 28 and we want ~35 for 2016) and the number of applications we received was less than last year (probably because our deadline was earlier). I can't promise anything of course, but I would expect that we'll accept a few off the wait list as well this year. Really sorry that you're in that spot, but hopefully you get in here or end up somewhere that you think is an even better fit. I'm one of the JHU first years who was pretty involved with recruitment and I have no idea how they can choose between you all. I thought everyone was super friendly, smart, and impressive.
  14. I don't agree that the workload is insubstantial, depending on how much time foreignstudent is putting into lab. We don't take more than 3 classes at a time. Our program never has students TA and take classes in the same semester (and we only TA once or twice, ever) and when I read that foreignstudent was taking 9 credit hours and TAing for two classes in one semester, I cringed. Maybe it's just midterm season and I feel like I'm drowning (which is why I'm procrastinating on here, of course). Plus, if you haven't been in academia for a while, it takes some time to remember what studying requires. Try not to put so much pressure on yourself to come up with the best idea ever that's going to get you a Nature paper in your first 6 months, or whatever. Your professor just wants you to start defining what your role in the lab will be and where you want to go. It doesn't need to be perfect at first. That's what mentoring is for. Just propose something you think is interesting and potentially feasible for the next semester. Plan out your experiments with your adviser's help. Try to come up with a question you find interesting and propose a few ways to go about trying to find the answer. You can do this. You're in graduate school for a reason.
  15. I think finding a topic that interests you is more important than researching a strictly engineering topic. Biomedical engineering is a broad field with researchers coming from all sorts of backgrounds (engineering, chemistry, biology, materials science, computer science, math, etc.) so find something that you really think will be interesting. If that's electrical engineering work, go with it. If that's neuroscience, that's cool too. As long as you enjoy what you're doing, you'll push yourself to answer questions and that is what will really shine in your application.
  16. Also I live on the JHMI Shuttle line, so I take the bus for free to and from the med school from Mount Vernon. I wouldn't recommend living directly by the medical school because you're going to be paying more for convenience in a smaller apartment and a worse location.
  17. Hi! I'm a 1st year PhD at JHU (BME) and I really like Baltimore so far. I'm from the Midwest so rent is more than I'm used to, but my friends from other cities pay less in rent here than they used to (particularly my MIT friends)! For example, many students rent a house together and rent ends up being around $600-700 per month for a private bedroom. 1BRs by yourself are usually around $1,000 in the pricier areas. There are definitely some sketchy areas of Baltimore, but I don't really have any reason to go there and every big city will have those parts of town. The School of Medicine has a police officer at every 1/2 block so I've always felt pretty safe. They'll walk you to your car if you want. There are also services that will pick you up from wherever on the SOM campus and take you to your front door for free. I live in Mount Vernon, which is the arts/cultural/historic district of Baltimore and I think it's been really great. I have season tickets to the symphony ($25 for the whole season) and to a theatre that puts on plays ($50 for the season). I live within walking distance of 5 Indian restaurants. I've never felt uncomfortable walking around at night in my area and most of the neighborhoods that students live/frequent are the same. It's not as sketchy as the media would lead you to believe. I definitely recommend trying to visit Baltimore and staying with a current student if possible. There are definitely areas you don't want to live in, but that's really the same for any big city. I'm not in the School of Public Health, but I've met some really great people who are. I hope you get a chance to visit, because most of the students in my program really like the affordability and quirky charms of Baltimore.
  18. It depends on whether the schools do interviews or not. If they don't do interviews and you haven't heard anything, I'd say it's still pretty possible that you're on the wait list. If they do interviews and you haven't heard anything and you know they've sent out interview invitations, I would say it's starting to get unlikely that this point, unfortunately. I'd say if by mid March you haven't heard anything, you should email to check. I have a friend who came off of a wait list when she was awarded the NSF, but not from that particular program. I've also heard of people having rejections reversed from getting the NSF. Many schools will reconsider if you have your own funding. I would contact a PI you're interested in working with at that school to see if they think the department would reconsider once you find out about NSF, but not until after you know that you got it.
  19. I wish I could give you all a hug and tell you everything will be okay. I know last year when I was applying I was a huge wreck until April. If you're anxious, I feel like you should stop checking grad cafe. I didn't listen to my own advice, but I probably should have. Checking the results won't make the admission information come any faster. The admissions process almost over; just 2 more months. Try to enjoy your time as an undergrad/masters/post-bac. Grad school can be really crazy. As you're flying around the country trying to decide your future, try to take care of yourselves. All will be well. You'll end up exactly where you need to be. <3
  20. I also had quite a bit of anxiety surrounding my first grad school interviews. I was actually getting to meet experts in my field. I had to talk to them for 30 minutes-1 hour alone without sounding like too much of a dweeb. I feel like thinking about it that way really put me in a bad place for the first one, but luckily the professor was really nice and genuinely excited that I was interested in his work. So after that potentially terrible experience turned out okay, I decided to reframe the experience in my mind. I stopped thinking of it as an interview and started thinking that I had the opportunity to ask these brilliant scientists questions about their work and share a little bit of mine for an hour. Once I thought of it as a conversation, I felt really confident (which is really difficult for me) and I think it showed. So no horror stories, just some advice. Even if it doesn't work out, you've gotten the chance to have a great conversation with someone really smart. And I feel like if you approach it that way and make sure you can explain your own work well enough, you can't really go wrong. Good luck with your interviews!
  21. That sounds like a good answer, actually. One thing I'd be concerned about is funding. I know that most domestic Master's programs in the US are self-funded, as in you need to pay for classes and don't get a stipend. I'm guessing funding for a Master's as an international student is more difficult to receive from the US, but I think some countries have grants for students studying in the US. There are some funded Master's programs and it'd be important to know. Some programs frequently transition their masters students into their PhD programs. That's an important question to ask if it comes up.
  22. I disagree. I know that this is program specific, but last year UCSD had a pile of applicants to their BME PhD (I was apparently in this pile), where if you called or emailed to inquire about the status of your application you would be accepted into the Masters program even though you'd applied for the PhD. I didn't call, because I had offers already and didn't really care. If I hadn't had any offers, it would have been appealing. Students in the program are often able to transition into the PhD after they finish classes, so it would have been fine. I would email the program admin in late February-March if you haven't heard anything. It's still a bit early yet, especially if the program doesn't have interviews.
  23. I'd contact the grad coordinator/admin first and then professors. Sometimes professors aren't as in the loop as the admins who are actually sending out the admission decisions.
  24. Yeah, the department should definitely have let them know a few weeks in advance. I'm not defending them, I'm just saying that they might be annoyed even if it's their (the department's) fault. It wouldn't change admission, but I would bring the admin some cookies or a thank you note if I decided to attend there. I go to a school where the admin has a surprising amount of power, so that colors my answer a bit.
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