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Butterfly_effect

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About Butterfly_effect

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    Espresso Shot

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  • Gender
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  • Location
    Boston
  • Application Season
    2015 Fall
  • Program
    Neuroscience

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  1. You're right that 'bar' is too strong, but it might be uncomfortable given this: If the PI independently had the 'exact same idea' they might want to continue that line of research in their own lab (funding situation be damned) and could view it negatively if you want to take that idea to work on with someone else (outside of an agreed-upon co-mentorship or amicable split). Do they think of this more as a project they thought up and gave to you or one you thought up and developed primarily on your own? It's not really that your current PI could really stop you from working on it, and given their financial situation they very well might not be able to continue it in their lab, but it might be felt/seen as adjacent to 'scooping' your current lab, depending of course on how much of the idea you developed vs. your PI, how much of the data you generated already in your current PI's lab, and how similar your project would be in the new lab. Your PI may very well not feel this way at all, but it would be worth having a conversation about ownership of the project if you decided you wanted to leave the lab.
  2. I would recommend not switching labs and instead focusing on fostering a co-mentorship and if possible, a formal collaboration where the new superstar lab can contribute more funding/resources but you can remain primarily in your current lab working on your current project. I would bring this up with your current PI (the idea of a collaboration) and see what they think. I've known students to be co-mentored by 1 new PI and 1 established one and some that work in both labs and use resources from both labs. If both PIs are enthusiastic, it can be a great productive relationship for everyone. My concern about switching labs is that you may not be able to continue this project you really like in the new lab. Especially since your advisor thought of the idea at the same time independently, he might not want to let you continue working on that project in another lab. Depending on how specific your project is and how much of your current's lab resources have been devoted to it, you might be barred, formally or informally, from continuing that exact same project outside that lab. I would tread very carefully here and know that if you do switch, you may have to develop a different project using the same methods.
  3. I just read an article directed at young scientists that ends with: Does science feel like a job, or is it the case that vocation matches avocation, such that you can’t wait to get to the lab, such that it does not feel like work at all? If so, nothing can stop you and may you indeed “stay, forever young.” Does anyone actually feel that way? I think the idea that grad school doesn't or shouldn't feel like work is ludicrous...
  4. I'm in a neuroscience program so my advice is probably most applicable to those in the life sciences: In general, no, you should not be expected to hit the ground running. It's pretty hard to just teach yourself new techniques and typically the lab may assign a post-doc or graduate student to be your point person. If not, I might recommend asking your PI who in the lab would be good to go to with questions about the particular techniques you'll work on in your rotation project. Typically the rotation project is something you A) might choose from a list of options your PI presents or B) you may work with someone else on their project or C) work with the PI to come up with something entirely new. In my program, we rotate as we do classes, so we typically spend about half the day in lab and half on classes. I knew I felt pressure (self-induced) to always be working and hanging around in lab like I saw some grad students/post-docs doing. I have to say that I would strongly disagree today. Yes, you should definitely spend a good amount of time (in my program at least 4 weeks) before moving on to another lab rotation. I would say at least 6-8 weeks if you enjoy the lab and are considering it as a place to do your dissertation research. But don't overcommit yourself. Remember that you have homework and they don't! Also, if everyone is at lab all the time, consider whether this is sustainable for you long-term. Graduate studies are a marathon, not a sprint. I slightly disagree with this sentiment. Yes, one of the best things you can do as a rotation student is to show enthusiasm, but if 'doing it tonight' means overextending yourself, it's not worth it. Always remember that as important as it is to make a good impression and show enthusiasm about the lab, it's even more important for you to assess the lab on it's fit with you and your interests. You're not expected to get data or results (if you do, great!) and if a PI does expect that, I would strongly encourage you to avoid picking that lab. Unrealistic expectations during the rotation will not let up once you've joined. Get a feel for the lab culture. Are people friendly and helpful? Do they do interesting research? How do you interact with the PI? Could you see yourself here for 4-6 years? It's a long commitment and not one to be taken lightly. I would also recommend when setting up rotations to talk not only to PIs and people currently in the lab, but also reach out to people that rotated but DIDN'T join. In my program, our admin keeps a record of this so it's easy to find these students and ask them about their experiences. In most cases, no labs are purely good or bad and it's more about the fit of your personality with the lab. Talking to someone who didn't join is great because they can and will be more candid about their experience and may provide useful information about potential downsides of the lab that you can then think about an evaluate. For example, if someone didn't join because the lab didn't feel close-knit enough, you can think about whether that matters to you or whether you'd actually prefer to think of your labmates more like work colleagues. Bottom line: Enjoy yourself, do fun science, and think of rotations almost like dating before marriage. Try a few options out before you settle down and remember that rotations are a two-way street.
  5. For Harvard Housing (apartments) the cost varies quite a bit depending on property. You will have to live with roommates. The cost for a one bedroom is usually around $2,200 per month to 2,400 per month. Two bedrooms are 2,400 to 2,800 (the range is actually even wider and depends a lot on the apartment building and amenities. These costs do include all utilities and internet though.
  6. You pay it up front, like room and board for college. See below: Last year, the meal plan (mandatory if you're in the dorms) cost $2,379 for the academic year. Also know that you have to move out during the summer and these rates do not reflect the cost of additional summer housing.
  7. For GSAS dorms, I think you pay the whole semester up front, plus you also have to pay for a meal plan, which I think is a couple grand. For HUH apartments, you pay month to month.
  8. I would recommend subletting from someone for a few weeks if you can. I was in the same situation and sublet for August. It may be harder to find something for just a few weeks, but you might have some luck on Craigslist or the Harvard off campus housing list, which often has sublets. https://www.harvardhousingoffcampus.com/
  9. You should really check out the Harvard University Housing page here: http://huhousing.harvard.edu/our-properties/cronkhite-center I think most of your questions could be answered by looking at the page for the Cronkhite center. You should know that unless you qualify as an 'active Harvard affiliate' the summer before you start, you can't get a sublet in the Cronkhite center (details are available in the policy manual on the website. I don't know when your program officially starts but getting a sublet through HH will depend on that. You should also know that Cronkhite doesn't happen during the view and select window at all. See below: Selecting A Room At Cronkhite All Cronkhite rooms are selected from the Currently Available list; they do not appear in the View and Select windows. Approved applicants meeting the eligibility requirements for Cronkhite and attending GSAS, GSD, GSE, HDS, or HKS will be notified when the majority of the Cronkhite units appear on Currently Available – typically soon after the View and Select window assignments are emailed in early May. Once the View and Select windows close (typically late May or early June), we will notify eligible applicants in the schools not listed above that they may now select an available Cronkhite unit from Currently Available.
  10. Hi I live in Harvard housing. I'm not sure the exact range of view and select windows though mine was also in May. I have heard that some programs like law students and students with families get earlier windows. Some apartments are definitely reserved in part or whole for certain groups of students (like Terry Terrace). It sounds like you're interested in the dorms though (based on you saying you want to live alone and no Harvard apartment being cheap enough for that). I live in an apartment though I have a friend who lives in the dorms and she likes it. One negative is that they require you to subscribe to a meal plan. It's something like 5 meals a week but overpriced for what it is. I selected my current apartment through the Currently Available list, which is just a rolling list of apartments available to sign leases on at any point. But again, I'm not sure if the dorms end up on that list.
  11. Just curious, what do you mean by this?
  12. It's actually not that uncommon based on asking when I interviewed at other neuro programs. I think it really depends how you're funded though. If you TA, you get a W2 for that work, but students who just research get no forms whatsoever. Since my program doesn't have a teaching requirement, we are never given W2s. It kind of sucks; I'd much rather get paid normally and be able to have an IRA.
  13. A note about this: be careful about IRAs. I was told by a financial advisor that grad students aren't actually allowed to contribute to Roth IRAs (or any IRA) unless you get W2s. I've looked it up as well and it seems true in the tax code. It's weird and dumb, but at my school we don't get any forms about taxes whatsoever (and no withholding) and thus our stipend isn't considered "earned compensation." So we have to pay estimated taxes AND we can't contribute to IRAs. Super annoying
  14. I haven't lived long term in SF, but I interviewed at UCSF and asked the grad students a ton of questions about housing. I learned that the lowest anyone pays per month with roommates is around $900 (at least in the neuro program) while most pay a bit over $1000 per month (also with roommates). It's very expensive. I will say that you'd be fine with 36,000-37,000 though. I make around that much and live in Boston paying similar rent. It's surprisingly doable. Most people I talked with were roommates with 2 or 3 other people, so in a 3 or 4 bedroom apt.
  15. I know this is hard, but try not to compare yourself to him. It never helps to compare yourself to others, and you said yourself the other student had more experience in the lab before you joined so it totally makes sense that he had a leg up on you when you started. As you continue in your lab, this gap will close and those 3 weeks won't matter at all in the long run. As far as your project, I would try talking to your advisor. Can you think of a way to modify project B to make it more interesting for you? As a grad student, you control the direction you want your research to go in. Don't be afraid to talk about changing it up a bit. It sucks that you got kind of "scooped" in a way, but again, it's impossible to know how interesting the project results will end up being. Your project B or some other project could be more interesting in the long run. There are basically an infinite number of potential projects for you to work on. You don't have to be limited to B! The most important thing is to try not to stress yourself out. Try to talk to other grad students (maybe students farther along in the program?) and gain some perspective. I bet it isn't as bad or scary as you feel it is. And if it is, I bet they can provide some more specific guidance for dealing with that professor or that kind of situation.
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