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  1. immuno91

    Rotation dilemma

    This hit the nail on the head. A retiring PI will understand that you need to prioritise finding a dissertation lab. Additionally, if you end up finding a lab that studies similar things and the retiring PIs lab has a useful technique, they'll usually let you rotate in their lab for a final rotation to learn that technique.
  2. I feel like Imperial is consistently considered to be the best university for the sciences in London - certainly it has a fantastic scientific community.
  3. As someone who actually studies virology, I feel like I can actually provide advice to you on this matter. First, I would scratch Vandy off your list. If virology is your thing, Vanderbilt will leave a lot to be desired - ever since Terry Dermody left their virology faculty has been lacking. There are four institutions that some consider to be the "top tier" for virology: WashU, Emory, Harvard, and Mt. Sinai. I don't know how much I believe that particular statement as there are plenty of other strong virology programs out there. University of Wisconsin - Madison has a strong virology faculty and I think University of Alabama - Birmingham and one of Tulane or LSU have relatively strong virology research (if you're looking for less well known schools). UCSF and UW are probably have the two strongest virology faculties on the West Coast. Duke MGM doesn't have the most virology faculty, but the people that they do have are pretty good. UNC also has a good group of researchers. If viral immunology and less well known schools are your thing, I think a fair amount could be said for the University of Vermont, which has a solid vaccine testing research group and a few virologists on faculty. The University of Rochester also has some good virology as well.
  4. Sort of jumping off of what @Bioenchilada said, networking is really important and some schools (like UPenn) offer significantly better networking opportunities. Additionally, when you're looking for a job as you begin to wrap up your degree, it's not just your advisor that matters. One of the opportunities at larger, more well known schools (again, such as UPenn) is that not only can you have an advisor that will help get you to the next step, you can also have well known people on your dissertation advisory committee. These are people that will be writing you recommendations as well moving forward, and it definitely helps professionally (or so I'm told by upper year students...) if you have people that can make a phone call for you and have a reasonable expectation that whomever is on the other end will pick up. That said, obviously there are pros and cons to any institution and any personal situation, and it's up to you to really measure those considerations.
  5. You've actually just put your finger on the entire point of the interview weekend. Well, not entirely, but mostly. For smaller programs, interview weekend are pretty important in identifying students that will fit well within the program community (some of these programs even have student interviews to drive that process home). It really becomes a matter of asking whether we're right for you and you're right for us. As a program with a 67% admit rate, our interview weekend actually separates out a fair amount of people and a lot of that is based on how people are seen to fit within the program, as well as their conversations with faculty.
  6. In most cases you'll interview with 1-2 members of the admissions committee and then a few members of the faculty that are not on the admissions committee. Everyone normally writes up reviews and sends them on to the committee for consideration, from what I understand. Once the committee is meeting, it's obviously up to the members of the committee that you met with to advocate for you, as those that aren't there cannot.
  7. So, we were discussing this at a dinner the other day, but I just thought I would post it here for everyone interviewing this year. Every year in Boston there is at least one person that comes to an interview without a jacket. Please don't be that person (I have faith in all of you because you care enough about the process to be on this site, but I just thought I would emphasize this). Remember to dress appropriately for the weather wherever you're going! Also, anyone interviewing at the University of Washington, I would highly recommend bringing a rain jacket instead of an umbrella. When I was there all of the students recommended rain jackets because the rain is more of a mist that you'll be walking through. And when I used an umbrella, I still got fairly wet, but the next day when I switched to a rain jacket things were good.
  8. I had three publications publicly available at the time of my interviews and at a few of the programs that I interviewed at, my interviewers did take the time to look up the publications and grill me on them. I think if you have publications noted on your CV, there's always going to be a few instances where a faculty member quizzes you on those papers (especially as people start to look more and more at publication ethics and question that amount of work people did with the publication). I think the general principle on publications is that you're not necessarily going to talk about them (and if you can steer the conversation towards your unpublished research that you may be more comfortable with - do that). However, if you list publications and are asked about them, but then mess up your response or demonstrate a lack of knowledge, that is a bad sign (this was also advice that my old PI gave me before I started interviewing). Regarding your specific scenario, I would make sure that you understand the science and can discuss the science fluently, but then if asked what you did to contribute to the project be completely forthright. Again, a lot of interviewers will give you some latitude to direct the conversation about your research in the direction you want. However, there are always a few that will grill you on anything on your CV. One of my interviewers opened my CV on her computer and picked a research experience from my junior year of university (I was three years out of university when I applied) and started asking me very specific questions about the techniques I used. It definitely wasn't a universal thing, but I would say that out of 35ish interviewers that I met with during recruitment weekends, 4-5 definitely picked specific things from my CV to ask about.
  9. Do you have published papers? If yes, know those papers inside out and upside down. If you get asked about a certain experiment that was done in the paper (say in Fig. 2) it doesn't matter if you only contributed to Fig. 3. You need to know everything you can about your own publications because any part of anything that has your name on it is fair game.
  10. As has been said previously, it depends on the program. At some schools (example, Vanderbilt), the admissions committee meets after every interview weekend. The grad students said that nearly everyone on the first weekend gets in and then the numbers drop for each subsequent weekend. Other programs will have all of their interview weekends and then will notify people after. It really just depends on what the program does.
  11. One of the G5s in my program straight up interviewed someone because her PI didn't show up.
  12. Honestly, in some cases them knowing you have an appointment is up in the air. It's not unheard of for a PI to miss an interview.
  13. Yes, and I'm telling you what I know as a former member of a BBS lab and currently enrolled student in a DMS program. There are plenty of labs that aren't in BBS. Galit Alter, Shiv Pillai, Todd Allen, Sarah Fortune, Sylvie Legall, Mike Brenner, and Ramnik Xavier are PIs that are not part of BBS - if you want a non-exhaustive list of names. Moreover, the comment about needing a mentor in your program is not entirely true. I know that I can join a lab outside of my program, the only rule is that two members of my DAC (including the chair) need to be from my program. The point is - yes, BBS is very flexible. But most other programs, at least within DMS, are also fairly flexible. Some may require out of program PIs to join the program, but a lot don't. Plenty of MCO students join labs based in Longwood that are not part of MCO. Some BPH students join labs in Virology and Immunology that aren't part of BPH. BBS is flexible, but there are non-BBS labs. However, any graduate student with sound reason can rotate in any HILS lab if the PI is accepting students. Half of my program has done out of program rotations that were (extremely) tangentially related to the program topic, but they were signed off on without question.
  14. That's not entirely true - while they want you to be related to your discipline, you don't necessarily have to be and the relationship can generally be very tangential. In general, the rule is that you can rotate in any lab affiliated with the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS). Doing an out of program rotation is very easy and I've never seen one get turned down. BBS students rotate in non-affiliated BBS labs quite regularly. BPH students rotate in Immunology and Virology labs all the time. Virology and Immunology students regularly rotate in BBS labs that don't really do virology or immunology.
  15. Jeans are absolutely fine for events like welcome dinners or trips to any bars/house parties that students may take you to. That said, wear a nicer pair of jeans. Most men that I interviewed with wore a tie to their interviews. During my last interview, I decided that I didn't care anymore and stopped wearing a tie - it didn't impact the decision on my application (I also wore some interesting colored clothing on this interview because I had run out of clean clothes after three interviews in one week). Generally, people wear more neutral colors/navy blue because that sums up business casual. Honestly, I don't think it entirely matters - the program administrator at Duke gave me a high five because I wore "Duke blue" pants to the first day of interviews. In general, if faculty are expected to be present (interviews, dinners/cocktail hours with faculty), I would go with trousers (not jeans), a button down shirt, and a sweater or blazer (a tie is up to you). The great thing about blazers is that they're easy to take off and hang up if the situation is more casual. For events with students, a pair of nice jeans and a more casual shirt (button down but not necessarily a dress shirt) will usually suffice. This is more or less what I saw from those that I interviewed with as well.
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