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Everything posted by Butterfly_effect

  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. 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/
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Just curious, what do you mean by this?
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. I second what AP has said, but I would strongly recommend approaching your adviser directly rather than going to the DGS. This is based off your comment that you don't think she was being malicious, just insensitive/unaware. I think it would probably be better for your working relationship to talk to her directly (if you feel you can). Also, of course you belong. You're not alone in being from a low-income background. I started a thread about this very topic here. Feel free to PM me.
  16. Ooh, this is a nice feature. But this way, you'd have to select which publications you used an in what order? Or can you feed a document into Mendeley and have it generate the bibliography? One of the things that is nice about a dedicated word plugin is that I don't have to keep track of anything. I just cite as I write and hit a button at the end to generate a bibliography. It's particularly nice for long papers.
  17. So what ended up happening is I called his lab and talked with the lab manager (the assistant was not there yet) and left a message. Then I emailed later in the afternoon and the assistant was super helpful and really badgered my PI to submit the letter, which he finally did around 4. He also sent me an email to confirm (which was the first time he's directly communicated with me at all about this). I don't think it would have been a good idea in my case to draft my own letter. He has written for me in the past for the same fellowship and the letter he currently has is a very positive one (based on reviews from last year) and would only need a little updating. I also personally don't like the idea of trying to influence my writers in any way. I understand there are situations where writers may need help, but I wasn't asked for input.
  18. I am a die-hard zotero fan. I just haven't found any other referencing software that has 1. a web plugin that's basically a button you hit when you're on pubmed or jstor or whatever to save the PDF and reference information from the page automatically. I never enter it in myself, though maybe 1/50 times I'll have to fix capitalization or something. 2. an interface that links the PDF files with their reference information so can just double click a reference in zotero and have the annotated PDF pop up in preview and 3. a good word plugin where I can just hit a button to add a citation field, then a search bar pops up and I can type in part of a title or author and select from my library the right paper. Zotero than automatically generates bibliographies in a style you select (e.g. Nature, Cell, Chicago). Does Mendley or Endnote do this? It's so convenient. I am also trying to reference and make notes on hard copies as I think I remember papers better this way, though it's harder because I can't search my notes unless I take the extra time to enter them into my annotated bibliography in Evernote.
  19. I went straight to PhD but that was mostly because I got into where I wanted to go first try. If you think your GPA will prevent you from getting into the program of your choice, maybe a master's is fine. I'm in a top program for my field (neuro) and no one in my program that I know did a master's first, though many teched for a while. I would say in general, Master's are not required at all for US PhDs. What are your dream schools/programs by the way?
  20. I would probably put it the way you have it the first time. I think it's more important than where the school was and I wouldn't expect to read it after the address. But I also think it's a matter of personal taste.
  21. If anyone is interested in neuroscience or programs at Harvard, I'd be happy to talk. PM me.
  22. I'm a second year in neuroscience/genetics. I aim for 40 hours per week in lab/class, but usually go a little over. I usually arrive in lab at 9:10 and leave around 5:30 (or earlier on my afternoon class days), though I've definitely stayed later or gone in on weekends on occasion. I try not to make a habit of it though. My viewpoint is that graduate school is like a job. If you try to do too much you'll burn out. If you force yourself to be in lab late or spend a lot of time in lab, you may end up procrastinating more or distracting yourself because 'hey, I'm going to be here all night anyway'. Obviously, my kind of schedule doesn't work for everyone. YMMV. But I find myself a lot happier than I was in undergrad, where I basically studied or did research all day and all night. I think it also matters that I have a girlfriend that I live with (i.e. something really important and awesome to come home to).
  23. I second everything everyone has said so far. I haven't had this exact experience before, but after failing a test last year (neuroanatomy, ugh) I felt so self-conscious and horrible about myself despite having tried so hard. I felt like everyone who looked at me could see the big glowing F on my face. The most important thing to remember is that how you feel now is temporary. Feel sad and angry and however else you feel, but know that you won't always feel that way. Things will get better
  24. I found the most helpful thing (besides the practice tests available for free online) was vocab flash cards. I hated having to try to determine the meaning of a word from ambiguous context clues. I would do 10 a night, and add 10 every subsequent night (so 10, 20, 30, etc.). I only spent 10-20 minutes a night for maybe 3 weeks. Toward the end when I had too many cards to review, I would do the last 20-30 and then pick random vocab cards or keep a deck of cards I found to be more challenging. I used Manhattan Prep Advanced words (link here). I didn't actually find the reading to be difficult, just the use of esoteric words. I got a 166V 166 Math.
  25. I'm not sure how to best respond or handle this situation. For the NSF GRFP, one of my past PIs is writing me a letter. He has written for me in the past for grad school and the NSF last year. I asked him maybe 5 weeks ago and he agreed. I told him the due date was yesterday and he did not submit yesterday (due date is really today at 5PM). Also, he will not directly communicate with me (always goes through his assistant), and I got no response to my reminder email yesterday. What should I do? I believe I had this problem with him once before and had to actually call the assistant to check in on the day the reference letter was due to ensure everything was submitted. Things were easier in the past, when the post-doc I worked with was still in the lab. She was super responsive and helpful. The PI is...not at all.
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