Janiejoneswoah got a reaction from kyrDNa in Required Courses
If you're applying to medical school this could potentially be an issue, depending on what the exact requirements are in your region. But most phd programs that I am aware of do not have a specific list of courses they want to see you take. It can help to have several courses in the field that you are applying for—but most likely spending the time building research experience would be much more valuable. Research fit/experience is the first and most important metric used by grad schools. There's no need to freak out over specific courses that you can't fit into your schedule.
Janiejoneswoah got a reaction from Baller123 in Should I interview with a PI I have worked for?
Strategically, I would say no it's better to interview with somebody else... although it might not matter if your PI is not on the admissions committee. Usually the programs match you with a couple of PIs on the ad com and a few who you have said you are interested in. Although the ad com will account for the other interviews, the most important thing is to make a good impression on the PI's who are actually on the committee. Any opportunity you have to meet somebody new on the committee is an opportunity to get somebody else to fight for you in the admissions meeting. If your PI already likes you and are on the ad com, they will likely already fight for you. If they don't much like you and are on the ad com, you aren't going to change their mind in an interview. If they aren't on the committee, as I said it probably doesn't matter much since you would interview with them or somebody else not on the committee.
Janiejoneswoah got a reaction from jougami in 2017 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results
I think you are correct in your assessment that your GRE is the biggest thing holding you back. If there's anything you could do to bring that quantitative score up, even if it means dishing out $500 for one of those Kaplan classes, I think it would be worth it. I say that because your research experience is really solid and your PI (I also went to UT and I think I know who you are talking about) is going to have a very weighty letter. Other than that quantitative score, I don't see any reason why you wouldn't get into some of those programs you mentioned as dream schools.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to biotechie in undergrad grunt work?
I've had several undergrads (and high school students) come through the labs I've been a part of, and their experience are all similar to what I experienced when I started out. When I started as an undergrad researcher, I started doing things just as you are... taking out biohazard trash, cleaning benches, maintaining equipment. Then I moved on to handling and weaning the mice, genotyping, etc, then to sterile techniques for mammalian cell culture, and finally I started my own projects, but that took about 6 months. They cannot (and should not) let you start contributing to their expensive experiments until they know you've learned enough to do the experiment appropriately. This is far different than most psychology research studies, and you have to build a skillset for this.
No matter what people say, doing experiments in the biology lab is not the simple step-by-step that it is in your classes. You have to put in quite a bit of time to learn how things in the lab work and what needs to go into an experiment. Remember that their experiments are going to be funded by grants. That funding is limited and experiments are expensive. In addition, wouldn't you hate to generate some "data" that derailed the direction of the lab only to find that it was wrong later because you didn't do it correctly? I've seen this happen, and it isn't pretty! It takes a lot of experience with seemingly menial things to do well in the lab. Cleaning up biohazard trash means you're less likely to contaminate yourself with a virus, etc when you're doing a real experiment. You might spend a couple weeks pouring gels for western blots for people in the lab to use, which seems menial, but now you have a valuable skill that is one of the most important parts of a protocol that you likely won't mess up when you get to run a real experiment.
Also, 20 hours is nearly nothing. That's the minimum amount my current PI allows for time for undergraduates in the lab. If they can't be in at least 20 hours a week, they're not going to get to join the lab because they won't ever be able to get anything meaningful done except for what you call, "grunt work." Was your 20 hours in a single week? If you've only alloted 5-7 hours to lab a week, you're only going to get grunt work. This is because experiments take a lot of time! A western blot takes about 6 hours the first day and 4 hours the second day with some incubations in between. That doesn't count the 3 hours it takes to prep protein for the blot, or the 6 hours I spent dissecting mice to get the tissues for the experiment, or the 2 hours a day I spent treating mice for two weeks before the dissection. That's just one experiment. A typical grad student has 3-4 of these going on at a time while also doing data analysis on the previous ones. In our lab, we expect an experienced undergrad to handle one of these on their own (with guidance from a grad student). However, we don't let them do an experiment like that right out of the gate. They have to do exactly what you're doing first so they can show that they're committed, but most importantly that they're careful and they can follow direction. Once they show that they can do this, I start them with small, bacterial cloning experiments for things we need in the lab. If they do a good job, they get to move up to something more exciting. I have a high school student, now, who moved up to doing mouse experiments in about 2 months, and she's an author on my last paper.
Don't be so negative. I would not call what you're doing suffering at all; in fact, I think it is quite nice of them to have you handling biohazard trash rather than starting with gross dissection (or worse, poop processing). If you're disgusted by biohazard trash, which should be nicely bagged or boxed up so you just have to close it and autoclave it, then I would question how well you will be able to handle the real experimental work. Mice are gross, and if you're not working with those, you'll be working with human samples, bacteria, viruses, or cell llines, which can also be quite stinky and gross. You need to evaluate if you're going to be able to deal with these things.
Finally, your reasoning for being in the lab might affect what you get to do. If we get someone that is just fleshing out their resume for med school, it is usually obvious even if they don't tell us; they're usually not as committed to being in the lab when we need them and don't do A+ work on what we assign them to do. Because of this, they don't do as well with the grunt work, and usually get a smaller project, if any. However, if a student wants to go to grad school or is genuinely interested in research, they're also usually willing to be in lab a little more and they really put in the effort. Those are the students that get the cool projects because they ask for things to do, they ask questions about the research, they raise their hand in lab meeting, they read papers, etc. If something goes wrong with their experiment, these are the students that come up to you and say, "Well, this didn't work, but here are the things that could have gone wrong and here's how I want to troubleshoot it." If that's the kind of project you're wanting, you need to be that kind of student.
If you're still concerned, send me a message. I'd be happy to talk more with you about this. You should also talk to the faculty member in charge of your lab, but don't be disappointed if they tell you everything we've just told you.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to fuzzylogician in undergrad grunt work?
The conversation would be for you, not them. You've only just begun but you've already developed some very strong feelings about what goes on in this lab. A conversation with someone in charge might help you get some perspective on the training process that they perhaps didn't do a good job sharing with you at the outset. As others have said, you've only been there what amounts to less than a week full-time, so it's not at all surprising that you haven't been assigned any interesting duties yet. But it might help you to understand what the longer-term plans are, so you understand why you're being asked to do grunt work now. (Though frankly I think it's pretty clear, and I think that your negative attitude, comparisons with another RA that you know nothing about, and general approach to things, aren't something that this lab can or should be responsible for changing. I hope you're seeing someone for that, it's not good for you or anyone around you.)
Janiejoneswoah reacted to fuzzylogician in undergrad grunt work?
Well, you should probably talk about your responsibilities and potential for future professional development with your PI or whoever is in charge of you. However, I think you are reading a whole lot more into this than it is. Grunt work, yes. Degradation and humiliation, most likely not, and certainly not simply because they ask the most junior member of the lab to do the things they don't want to. You've only just started your training, so I'm not terribly surprised that no one has put you in charge of anything too important yet. That said, you should get more out of your experience than just emptying the trash, so just have a conversation with someone about the long-term prospects of your being in the lab.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to Eigen in undergrad grunt work?
Just going to add, someone has to do it.
You say you've put in less than 20 hours. For my undergrads, that's barely enough time to get though ruined training, much less do much actual lab work. Starting on trash and disinfecting surfaces rather than working with reagents that are both dangerous and cost thousands of dollars isn't that uncommon.
Everyone has to pitch in to do grunt work, and when you're note yet able to contribute in other areas, you're likely going to get a larger level of grunt work.
I'm faculty and I still do all the things you're complaining about, fwiw.
If after a few weeks or a month your not getting into anything more interesting, perhaps rethink it?
You might also consider attitude. Your post here comes across like they should be going out of their way to convince you that immunology is more interesting, so you don't switch to psych research. If they detect that, then it's less likely they'll want to invest time training you when you're likely to jump ship. And if after 20 hours (half a week for my students) you're already thinking about leaving, It doesn't come across like you were that committed to it in the first place.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to elemosynarical in undergrad grunt work?
so the situation is that I'm in an immunology lab right now, so far I've only contributed around 20 hours,
I'm a 4th year undergrad doing a double major in biology and psychology
but all that they've had me to do is empty out biozardous trash cans that contain blood samples and potentially sharp objects as well...
it takes me 2 hours to empty out everyone's trash cans and obviously i feel like i'm worth a piece of trash right now
not to mention I've had to wipe down and clean their equipment and inventory
I've never really had research experience in biology before
why all this grunt work though? i know... persistence, persistence... but they should have me start on simple experimental things, no?
this is making me feel that biology is not what I want to pursue in grad school, if volunteering is gonna be like this ALL the time...
not to mention, i'm starting to lean towards psychology, because as a psychology research assistant, I've never had to empty out trash cans
so far, I've had 2 work-study positions for psychology but all I can get for biology is volunteering role where I'm the trashman
is this normal to be suffering so much? not to mention, I'm extremely misophobic to the point of extreme OCD, so having to dispose of biozardous waste every time I'm in the lab sickens me
I get they are just testing me to see how resilient I am, but it feels like a subtle form of self-degradation and humiliation
Janiejoneswoah reacted to Bioenchilada in UCSF vs. Princeton (polar opposites)
The budget has not been approved and will probably face a lot of congressional backlash. A lot of presidential budgets are flat out rejected and just make the news for shock value. Also, a school of the caliber of UCSF will probably not be significantly affected. I would be more concerned if the OP were going to a school that's not a research powerhouse and depended on NIH funding, if the budget is actually approved.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to Bioenchilada in Staying motivated
Fellowships will take into consideration your undergrad GPA. You don't want to make it seem like you stopped caring at some point, since it will be pretty obvious if your GPA doesn't match up with other semesters'. Of course, this can change if all the courses you are taking are extremely difficult lol
For me, I wanted to graduate with one of the highest distinctions to make my family proud, so that kept me motivated.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to Cervello in Columbia vs UCSF
First, I'd like to say again that I agreed with most of what you had to say and thought you were well spoken (well, actually, well written :-) ). But I still don't think the lifestyle point is all that critical to making this decision because we're considering two urban areas, both of which offer great city culture and also outdoor activities within 40 mins from town.
I've lived in NYC for six years and have spent time in SF visiting friends and family. Obviously, SF has better weather, but people I know in SF, many of whom were my best friends in college, are just as happy there as they were here, and doing many of the same things. Outside of work, for those who aren't grad students & have more time to kill, or lab/class for those who are but are trying to get some downtime, they're either doing typical urban stuff or they're outdoors hiking, just we do here in NYC. There's amazing hiking under an hour away from midtown. Great softball league in Central Park. Terrific beaches on Long Island. One thing we have in NYC that SF doesn't have at quite the same level is theater, but they still have some good stuff happening in that realm, too. Maybe it's just that I think people who are tech, comp sci, biotech, lab ppl are more alike than they are different no matter what coast they're on. All I'm saying is that I don't think it's a big distinguishing factor to consider, except for weather. One might really prefer the weather on one coast over the other.
Finally, I never claimed that my undergrad experience was representative of the popular college experience. In fact, I was claiming the opposite. In schools like mine, nearly half the undergrad population is from the 3 states I named (CA, MA & NY), while the other half is hugely diverse. Since those 3 states are heavily represented, you tend to meet plenty of ppl from those states and begin to recognize that ppl who grow up on the coasts tend to have more in common than not.
And lastly, my comment wasn't meant to speak to the differences between grad school and undergrad. I've been a tech for 2 years at Columbia, my undergrad institution. It's a world of difference, not least because I'm no longer on the undergrad campus but rather up at the medical center, and like the grad students & post docs in my lab, I'm working full time and really long hours with only 2 weeks off a year. The only undergrads I see are those working in labs up here. I imagine it's the same where you are, since Longwood and many of the Harvard labs are in Boston and even Belmont. So yeah, given my own experience the last two years, I agree with you: undergrad and grad school are little alike, even though I worked in a lab as an undergrad every semester from freshman year and every summer. As an undergrad involved in a lot of different ECs, my lab work didn't define me the way it does now.
And for whatever it's worth, I don't mean to be contentious with you, especially because I agree with and value much of what you've posted here on Grad Cafe. I think you've given great, solid advice. I simply didn't agree with the one, minor, point.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to blc073 in Columbia vs UCSF
I think there are fundamental lifestyle differences between living in the Bay Area and living in NYC. People with certain personalities will gravitate to one lifestyle over the other.
One's experience at an Ivy League university is not representative of the popular college experience. Furthermore, graduate school is completely different than undergraduate.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to blc073 in Columbia vs UCSF
This is my point. It's not a fact that San Francisco has better weather than NYC. Personally, I much prefer the weather in Boston compared to California. Clearly I am more of an east coast person. All I am saying is that each coast has little things that make it more appealing to some people.
In the era of alternative facts and Trump, I have to say this is a ridiculous argument. There is just so obviously a difference between west coast people and east coast people, it's unreal. There's the West Coast-East Coast hip hop rivalry, there's the term "best coast" in reference to the west coast, there's a Huffpost article entitled "33 Reasons the West Coast is the Best Coast," there's a Buzzfeed quiz called "Are you more east coast or west coast," I can go on. I actually can't believe someone would dispute the notion that there are west coast people and east coast people.
Also, I know you meant well, but I would avoid telling people they are well spoken. It's incredibly condescending.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to FailedScientist in Path to Longevity Research? Also: Necessity of a PhD?
Regarding looking for a good program, I would look for schools with faculty that are researching ageing/longevity. Its a relatively niche field imo, so it shouldn't be too hard to narrow down your list. Then depending on which departments these faculty are attached to you will be able to select the specific program. I honestly don't think any of these fields are any less competitive than the other. The only advice I would give is take a good look at your research background and work/academics and see which area you have the most prior experience in. You would probably have a better chance at getting into one of those that fit your background and future interests.
You should do a PhD if a career in research or academia is your goal. If you are not sure about this a masters would be ideal, if you can get full or partial funding to do one. (or if money is not an issue) Otherwise I would recommend working as a research assistant in a lab to get a taste of the field.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to biomednyc in Laying Down the truth, sorry, not sorry
No of course you're not going to be a shoo-in for any career post-PhD, and I would hope no recent PhD graduate thinks that lol. I think I understand what you're saying...that it's not worth the time and energy to pursue a PhD if you don't really know what you want to do and think it's a good way to make yourself more "employable". I certainly know people who wanted to apply to PhDs to put off going into the "real world." I would just caution against piling people who might not want to pursue an academic career into that boat. People have different reasons for pursuing it, and I would say that those that simply pursue it to put time off from looking for jobs will most likely not make it through.
Also I'm not sure where the shame for wanting to go into academia is coming from...I am someone who intends to pursue an academic path and had no problem having conversations about it during interviews. I'm also not sure how much to read into the introductory presentations...again even as someone who wants to pursue an academic career I usually ask questions about career development/alternative careers because I think it's important to be aware of the options. At interviews they need to cover a lot in a little bit of time so they could've been catering to what people are (probably) most curious about.
Don't feel threatened about what you want to pursue post-PhD. Don't threaten other people about what they want to pursue post-PhD. Do your thing and learn as much as you can from everyone, even those who have different career goals than you.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to FailedScientist in GRE Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Test
I'm sorry my username offended you, no need to be so toxic. I created the profile at a low point hence the pessimistic name. I am an international student with average stats, (3.5GPA, >80th percentile GREs, top 100 university in most world rankings) and I tend to apply to very competitive programs as personally doesn't feel worth it to me to make all the sacrifices to go to a school that I am not happy with. Unfortunately this has led to many a rejection. I'd rather keep working as an RA until I build up the research background to go somewhere I would be happy with. P.S I haven't had the chance to interview with the US but every other professor I have interviewed with in other countries have supported my applications and/or offered me jobs.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to PhD_RPs in GRE Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Test
OP your username is annoying AF, your posts always make me cringe. Does GRE matter when you consider yourself a "FailedScientist" good luck in your future, I'd suggest choosing a different career path if you've fucked up on interviews so many times. Peace dawg
Janiejoneswoah reacted to CozyEnzymes in Laying Down the truth, sorry, not sorry
THIS post made me cringe, so I'm here to scientifically slap you with the truth (whatever that means.) PhD's can be used for so much more than jobs in academia - in fact, it's actually absurd to think that everyone should try to pursue an academic career, since as you said many individuals who go to grad school are not well-suited for it and there is an over-saturation of PhDs compared to the academic jobs available. To imply that people who pursue careers outside of academic are not SCIENTISTS is quite frankly ridiculous, especially for scientists in industry. Is the person who directs R&D for a drug company not a scientist? What about biochemists and analytical chemists working in the food industry? Would you turn these jobs over to individuals without intensive training in a PhD program? These jobs are not "soft" by any estimation and I have no idea why you would think that in the first place.
Also, you seem to hold the outdated belief that the only way to get a worthwhile graduate education is to suffer for five years under the most challenging professor to work with. I hate to break it to you, although that statement may have had some validity fifty years ago, it's no longer true in any way. Yes, it's important to work with a PI who is well-respected in your specific subfield of interest and who publishes frequently in good journals, but your educational experience will be much better overall if you choose someone who works well with your learning style and can improve your ability to engage as a scientist. Like you said, the goal is to cultivate raw talent and bring the student up to become a peer to the professors they work with. Choosing a compatible PI personality-wise not just about being happy - it's about being productive and getting the training that helps you advance to that level. Please don't suffer in the name of trying to be the best. Rank means nothing in grad school; it's all about what you do for yourself.
This elitist attitude - you should really try and check it before entering a grad program. Otherwise, you're going to wash out very fast when you have an inability to "roll with the punches" and consider ideas that challenge your worldview. Also, if you're only interested in academic careers, treating your cohort like trash behind their backs is a great way to burn those bridges you might need to secure a tenure track. You may think you're better than them, but science is an enterprise of people - you've got to get along to get ahead.
Janiejoneswoah reacted to PhD_RPs in Laying Down the truth, sorry, not sorry
Hey Academia is great too, as long as your doing research.
But why would you spend 5 years learning techniques to give it all up and become a consultant? or to give it up for journalism? Those five years could be allocated in a much more efficient way.
Going to grad school is a huge undertaking and a massive risk when you want to become a researcher, but then I think, well if half the kids around me are already not aiming for what I am aiming for then I have quite an advantage. IF they come into grad school from day one with the intent of not becoming a scientist, then my competition is much fewer than the entire class that is entering.
I'm not putting all of my eggs into the basket of becoming an academic, I would also go into industry if academia fails.
Okay so yeah, let's talk about salary. Going to graduate school is a massive opportunity cost salary wise, if you are getting your PhD for salary purposes you are in for a nasty surprise, the chances of you making good money are actually higher if you don't go into school for your PhD. Let's say you get an average job at 50k a year starting, by the time five year passes if you are a smart person (smart enough to get into grad school) your salary should be much bigger than 50k.
I'm not in science for the money at all. I'm in it for the love of asking and answering questions. For results, I am crossing my fingers that I will get LUCKY...