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Posts posted by BabyScientist

  1. On 7/28/2021 at 11:19 AM, AliChi said:


    I'm glad I was able to find this for Neuroscience 2022 Grad application cycle. I'm new to this and I'm really excited to embark on the journey that is grad school applications. A little about me, I graduated last year at the peak of the pandemic from NYU with a BS in Neural Science. I have research experience in multiple labs and have an interest in Behavioral research, understanding changes in brain circuits and molecular pathways. I'm pretty nervous about applying and would love feedback, advice and honestly whatever's out there to get us all where we need to be. Thanks 😊

    Post your stats! 

  2. On 8/1/2021 at 7:13 PM, YourNeighborBob said:

    Undergrad Institution: Boston University

    Major(s): Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Math, with honors in Bio

    Overall GPA: 3.76

    Major GPA: Bio around 3.9 Math around 3.3 (flunked hard in sophmore year when taking grad level math classes with orgo and cellbio... hopefully they'd ignore this)

    Type of Student: Asian male

    GRE Scores: won't take

    Research Experience: 

    - 2 years undergrad researcher in a neurotherapeutics lab at BU (histology, animal behavior, network analysis)

    - 1.5 year as a biostats tech in an immology/genomics lab in a Harvard affiliated hospital (high through sequencing)

    - Coauthor on five or six papers on Q1 journals; one first/second author paper in preparation

    Other Relevant Experience: 

    - hired as an outside consultant for more network analysis

    - coding + server managing experience 


    Dean's List + a scholarship + honors thesis (?) 

    Applying to Where:

    Lottery: MIT, Stanford, Harvard, CIT, UCSF, Princeton

    Stand a chance: CMU Bio/CNBC, UCSD, Brown, Duke

    Safety but would gladly go: UW, WUSTL

    LoRs: 2 from past PIs and 1 from adviser. My PIs are very respected/well-known in their fields. 

    I would really appreciate any comments on my school list! I am having a hard time positioning myself. I made the tentative list based on the admission percentages. I am interested in applying ML in brain signal processing. 

    I would say there are no safeties for grad school. Yes, UW is very competitive, but so are all the other schools. And UCSD is also more competitive than you'd think. It's not about the school it's the specific department. I'd swap UCSD and Princeton on your lists if anything. That being said, assuming you have decent letters of rec and write a good SOP, you stand a good chance at any of the schools you listed (if you're international though, your odds go down a lot) 

  3. 12 minutes ago, burner said:

    So, my top choice is MIT and earlier today I was notified that I was awarded the NSF GRFP. The thing is though that I haven't heard back from BCS since submitting my app in December (i.e. no interview). Do you think there is still a chance I'd be admitted given the fellowship?

    Unlikely if you weren't even offered an interview. If you were interviewed and waitlisted it likely would've made the difference, but unlikely if you weren't interviewed. 

  4. 7 hours ago, astrocytic said:

    for anyone choosing between programs: how did you make your decision?
    everyone says your advisor is key but I don't know who my advisor would be for either program, or what exactly I'd be working on.

    Potential advisors is key. Of course you can't know who you'll end up with, but which program has the most faculty you want to work with? Which program gave you the best vibes? I'd recommend emailing faculty you're most interested in at each program you're considering and asking for a meeting/call, and talk to them about your deciding process. 

  5. On 1/29/2021 at 4:44 PM, canigetuhhhhhhhanswerpls said:

    I'm not a current grad student, but literally everyone (faculty, postdocs, students) has told me that the number one priority should be choosing a school that has at least a few labs you're really interested in. Prestige will not get you a postdoc, your performance in grad school will. My current PI went to a grad school that is ranked lower than #200 but did her post doc at a top ranked ivy. 

    So, it's important that the work you'll be doing is inspiring to you. Grad school is very long. Where do you see yourself happy and successful? 

    The one aspect that prestige may affect is funding, but many schools have ample funding despite being "lower ranked." I wouldn't let USNews decide for you.

    This is exactly the answer I'd give (current student). Focus on the lab, not the institution. It will matter wayyyy more who you worked with/what you accomplished than where you did it. Choose faculty who will be good mentors and who have the resources for you to do good science. Doesn't matter which institution they're at, matters what you can do in the lab. 

  6. On 11/19/2020 at 2:06 AM, UnmotivatedNeuroApplicant said:

    Hello there! As my ID implies, I'm a highly unmotivated, hopeless neuroscience PhD applicant for this cycle. Hope that I can get some feedback to my question, and wish everyone good luck :)

    Undergrad: Double major in cog neuro + stats, minor in CS at a top20 non-Ivy uni

    GPA: 3.95 (honestly I don't think this matters)

    GRE: V162/Q168/W5.0 (again I don't think this matters)

    Research Experience:

    • Clinical neuroscience lab 1 since freshman year
    • Clinical neuroscience lab 2 (PI is very famous) since junior year, and now doing honors thesis

    Posters: one at undergrad symposium, the other at a famous national convention which was unfortunately suspended due to COVID-19


    • Co-authored on a publication at a prestigious journal (IF ~ 18)
    • First-authored manuscript submitted for review
    • First-authored manuscript in prep

    LORs: two PIs from the two clinical neuroscience labs, and the other one from a course instructor who doesn't know me well (I have no choice..). But I'm sure that the first two ones will be strong. 

    Applying to: UPenn neuroscience

    My biggest weaknesses: 1) I don't have a third strong LOR; 2) I'm an international student; 3) I don't have enough publications.

    Some beacon of hope: I'm specifically applying to UPenn because some NGG professors fit my interests so well. I've sent inquiry emails to these NGG professors, and their replies are like, "I'll write to the director of admissions and tell him that I support your application" (he did), "You are an excellent fit to what we're doing, and an extremely strong candidate. I have no doubt that you will have your choice of which program to join" (I honestly don't think so), "I'll flag your application to my friends in the admission committee" (hope he'll remember), "I'll welcome you to my lab if you do end up at Penn". 

    My question to you: I'm not asking for chances, since I know it's not going to be high. I'm hoping someone could tell me what I can do to maximize my chances of getting in after submitting my applications, given that these profs already show some interest in me as a potential PhD student. 

    Thanks very much for reading through my post. I appreciate any feedback you have for me :)

    What can you do to get into the 1 school you're applying to where multiple faculty have told the admissions committee they support you? 

    Don't be an ass at the interview. 

    Seriously. That's it. 

  7. 8 hours ago, DRMF said:

    What exactly is this money referring to? Not personally relevant, and I'm not familiar with post bacc programs, but I've just never heard anyone say having to pay a lot of money for them?

    Didn't even catch that... NIH postbac program doesn't have an admissions fee. Not sure about others, but seems silly for them to charge you if they're also going to pay you... 


  8. Your plan sounds solid to me... I was a RA and am very glad I did it over a postbacc program. 

    I guess in part it depends on the lab you work in, but I published as an RA, made great connections, and saved a ton of money. I had my own projects, and helped some others with their's, but I wasn't responsible for everyone's stuff.

    For the argument that postbacc programs are designed to make continuing education easier... It can be the same way as an RA if you make it that way. My lab knew I wanted to go to grad school so they set me up with opportunities to do so: publishing papers, presenting posters at conferences, etc. I was fully expected to leave and start grad school. 

    For the argument that you wouldn't have time for stuff in the morning and evening... Again, depends on you and the lab. Many labs pay RAs hourly, so I'd argue postbaccs end up getting overworked because they have a set salary. In my RA lab I was encouraged to work as much as I needed to to get my stuff done, but not too much more, so it varied by week. Again, I wasn't responsible for other people's projects. If I busted my butt it was for my project or projects I was sharing with someone else.

    Postbacc programs pay less, and often have restrictions on if you're allowed to have additional employment to offset the living expenses. I felt like I was rolling in the dough when I was an RA.

    Honestly, I work with a lot of postbaccs now and what they do is fundamentally no different than what I did as an RA. There's no wrong path, just a different path. Do you.

  9. 4 hours ago, allions said:

    Are you guys applying to only neuroscience phd programs or also to other programs like biomedical science, for example? Neuro seems to be quite competitive and i'm wondering if it would be less risky to branch out and go broader. Esp since lots of neuro faculty are in multiple different areas of science and can take students from more than one program. Thoughts?

    The department you're in matters mostly only in the structure of your program. The training you get is mostly from your lab, so if you have access to your labs of interest, the program doesn't matter as much. 

  10. I think a second masters would serve you less than a research position if you ultimately want a PhD. Your application is fine for a PhD, depending on your LORs and SOP, but not for programs of that caliber. A research associate position would give you opportunities for publication that will certainly help. 

  11. On 8/30/2020 at 1:10 AM, Nik K said:

    thank you so much for your response! 

    To answer the question: I barely know the PI for the lab! I don't know how common this is among other labs, but out PI barely attend any of the weekly meetings, the main way to contact him is to Email him which he'd respond within 2 weeks, and he might show up to a lab 2-3 times a semester. he could write a recommendation for me, but the GAs know me way better than him and I think their reference letter would be much more helpful than the one I'd receive from the professor. would this look bad on the application? 

    Also I have another question: I'm taking a seminar class on cognitive neuroscience with a pretty well known neuroscience Professor, I'd be in his lab starting next semester, should I ask him for a recommendation, or since I've known him for only a few month the letter would not be as impressive?


    I've heard of people having a post doc write the letter and the PI cosigns it. It's like the PI saying I don't know this kid but I trust the judgment of the person who wrote this.

    If you feel he could write a good letter after knowing you a short time, couldn't hurt. 

  12. 1 hour ago, alwaysNeuro said:

    Hi all,

    Happy to meet you all here! It will be my second attempt to apply to phd program this year and given the current pandemic situations, I am extremely anxious. So, it will be nice if you can give me some advice.

    About me:  I am an international student currently pursuing a MS degree in the US.

    GPA: 3.4 in undergrad, 3.8 in MS

    GRE: verbal and quant are above 90th percentile, AW is 4.0

    Research experience:

    Worked in a cerebral cardiovascular lab since sophomore and learnt about rodent behavioral, in vitro electrophysiology, animal surgeries, etc. I finished an honored thesis in the same lab and had a second authored pub in a journal (IF ~ 11), a poster presentation, two fellowships.I am working on my MS thesis right now but thanks to the pandemic, things got a little bit delayed. I am lucky to have gained some dry lab experience and learnt about in vivo ephys this time. hopefully I can gather enough data for a complete story before November.

    LOR: two letters from my supervisors (undergrad and MS), one from a professor I took class with in my MS program.

    School list: SUNY stony brook, UMass Amherst, Pittsburgh, Penn state, U Kansas, Tulane, Temple, Drexel

    My biggest drawback is my undergrad GPA. I had a below 3.0 GPA before junior year (depression bc of family tragedies). I only officially worked in two labs though I spent a summer in another lab learning ephys. I know it will be exceedingly competitive this year esp for international applicants. So, I basically will go for school ranged from top 50 -200, but I really like the PIs in Pittsburgh and want to give it a try. Should I add more safety school to my list?




    I think your list looks good and your GPA is fine. I had a 3.4 without a masters. I think at this point your biggest focus should be on writing a good SOP. The worst part of your application is that you're an international student. I think you should add a few more schools (I hear the pandemic is decreasing admissions slots), and maybe add a few more private schools. I'm not sure if this is true, but I'm under the impression private schools have more ability to fund international students. 

  13. 18 hours ago, puccakute said:

    I don't know what are my chances and I'm low key freaking out. If anybody can give me advice? Or help on my SOP that'll be great. 

    Type of student: International, female, Vietnamese 


    GPA: 3.7 Major: 3.6 Biochemistry from UCLA 


    3 and 1/2 years at a virology lab in UCLA- my PI is a well known professor in the field I'm pretty close to him so finger cross this rec should be good

    - I presented at 2 conferences local ones 

    - No publications yet

    - Part of 3 research projects one is NIH funded for COVID-19 research  

    3 months at Massachusetts general Hospital part of the Harvard stem cell institute internship program - Young PI but I'm also pretty close to him hoping this rec should be good too. I'm hoping I can come back to work for him in Ph.D but I need to get into Harvard BBS first. 

    1 letter of rec from a professor in my grad class (I'm an undergrad but I took a grad class for fun and I got really close to her) 

    GRE: Honestly biology program have made it all optional. I'm in a shitty living situation right now so I don't have the "at home" conditions to take it. I don't think I will 


    - Harvard Stem cell institute fellowship

    - UCLA chem and biochem award for outstanding achievement in research 

    -Dean's Honors list? Idk if this count 

    - Graduating with honors 

    Other things:

    - Leadership in UCLA ACS chapter for like 3 1/2 years 

    - Undergrad TA 

    -I’ve emailed a few prof I’m interested in. Mostly kinda thank you for emailing replies. One was really nice and offered to zoom with me and talked about his research (idk if that’ll do anything). Another one knew my current PI and she also offered to talk with me over zoom next week. 

     I'm looking into applying to:



    UC Irvine



    Harvard BBS 


    University of Washington 


    Boston University 




    UMass amherst 



    Am I aiming too high? Any suggestions for maybe less competitive schools? 


    There are a lot of "reach" schools in there, but I think you have enough more reasonable ones in there that it's fine. It's a long list, but if you can afford it I think it's fine. 

  14. 9 hours ago, tsusanto53 said:

    Do you have other method to quantify the competitiveness of a PhD program? 

    What do you mean by competitiveness? How hard is it to get in for the average applicant? Sure, then it depends on how many people apply. But then each applicant is more or less competitive for each school as well, so it's hard to say. You should be more concerned with how impactful the science is at each school (also hard to measure) and who you're most interested in working with at each school.

    Sorry, this has nothing to do with the original question. I know nothing specific about Stanford's grad programs, was just trying to understand what you meant by competitive. If you're trying to decide which program to apply to, I suggest applying to the one that will teach you the content you want to know and give you access to the faculty you want to work with. Reach out to faculty and try to ask them how they view the different programs. 

  15. Sounds like the only thing that makes a program competitive is how many people apply to it? Most schools interview about twice as many as they hope to enroll, accept 50-75% of interviewees, and hope for fewer people to accept the offer. How many people apply in the first place is independent of that. 

  16. Some programs allow it. Mine allows you to work up to a certain number of hours a week at another job (don't remember how many, maybe 10-20?). I do know someone whose advisor didn't know he got a job as a waiter and kicked him out when she found out.. Even though it was allowed.. 

  17. 20 hours ago, Nik K said:

     Hi all,

    I need some second opinions to help me decide on what to do after graduation. My plan was to take some post-baccalaureate fellowship or work in a lab for a year or two before applying to programs that I like, but after checking the profile of some of the students, I think although the chances are slim, there might be a possibility that I could get in this year. I'm graduating in three years so I think compared to other applicants I might not have as much research experience and I don't have any publication.

     about me: First generation, International student from a middle eastern country, (currently in the US)

    high school: top of my class in a very competitive national gifted student school(only 30 students in each class, one school in town) have some experience teaching and doing some research. 

    undergrad: University of Oklahoma, Psychology GPA: 3.9, 4.0 Major, 

    GRE: not gonna take but from practice tests, I'm guessing > 90th-95th. 

    Awards and honors: President list, dean list, some merit scholarship 


    this is what I'm not confident about, I'm graduating in three years, so I don't have as much experience compared to a 4-year student, 

    by the end of fall 2020 I'd have: 

    3 semester in a cognitive psychology lab 

    1 semester teaching assistant 

    1 semester neuroscience lab 

    NO publications.

    Letter of recommendation: 

    1) from the psychology lab GA whom I've worked with for 1.5 years, 

    2) from the psychology professor whom I've taken a class with and I'd TA for her this semester

    3) from the professor who I have a class with and also would be in her lab for next semester, 

    I'd like to get into one of these programs: Rockefeller( #1 choice), Columbia, UCLA, UCSF, USCD, north Carolina chapel hill, U Penn, U Michigan, CNUP, MIT

    what are my chances of getting to these schools? 

     If you have any feedback or comments please let me know. any specific gap year program/ job or research opportunity that would help me increase my chance of getting in, other good programs to consider, or programs that I have a good chance of getting in this year.  





    You have a chance. There's always a chance. You'd just have a wayyy better chance with a year or 2 of full time experience under your belt... If you have the means to apply, then apply to your favorites now, just know you may get rejected. If you'd rather have a better shot, get more experience first. Full time research experience is incredibly important, not just for getting in, but for succeeding once you're in. I took 2 years off and I know how to do most techniques and keep projects organized and all the logistical things that go into research that my labmates who didn't take time off struggle with regularly. 

  18. 9 hours ago, ihaveapurplebackpack said:


    2.9 overall GPA :( , BS Biochemistry with minor in Molecular Biology from large US state school. My GPA shows an upward trend and is around 3.4 for my last two years. My major GPA is around 3.3 overall.

    Research Experience:

    3 years in undergraduate developmental biology/genetics lab (1 publication, one in progress, one poster that I won an award for at a conference)

    2 years as a research assistant working in a structural biology lab (2 publications, 1 first authored review article, one publication in progress)

    3 strong LORs from undergrad PI who I also had as a professor for multiple classes, current PI, and postdoc in current lab who can all attest to my research potential. 


    I'm looking into applying to:



    UW Madison 

    UT Austin 

    University of Utah 

    University of Michigan 

    University of Washington 

    University of Chicago

    Boston University 



    I know most of these schools are probably a reach considering my low GPA, so I was looking for some input on good mid to lower tier programs I should look into. Any advice or opinions y'all can offer about my current list as well would be much appreciated. 


    Your profile looks great beyond the low GPA. If your letter writers can attest to your academic capabilities, that can make up for the GPA. If I were you I'd be proactive about emailing faculty of interest at schools you want to apply to and you can bring up your low GPA. If they want you in their lab, they'll help you get in. I know someone who got into USC and NYU molecular bio programs with a 2.9 GPA and only one publication.

    I'd say your list is a little top heavy, but it's hard to suggest programs without knowing more about your interests. Make sure you're only applying to schools where you'd be happy to work with at least 3 faculty. 

  19. 8 hours ago, queerorpheus said:

    Can anyone else back this up? I should add that:



    I'm currently sitting around a 3.9 both overall and in my major and don't expect that to change. I've gotten through the tougher classes in my major (p-chem and biochem 2) so I'm mostly finishing out those good old liberal arts requirements. I've been on dean's list for all semesters and have also received awards from the chemistry department for my academic performance in those classes.


    Like I said, I really only have that one research experience, but I now have a publication in an ACS journal and hopefully will be doing a few conferences (even if virtual). I've tutored chemistry for three years now and am now student managing our tutoring service. I'm also a faculty aide for cell and molecular biology. I feel that I can get some strong LORs from my research advisor, tutoring supervisor, and academic advisor. 


    I know Bloomberg specifically says they will evaluate your research experience differently if you're coming from a liberal arts background just because the size of the school can definitely impact your quality of research. I'm trying to focus my SoPs more on the qualities I got out of research than the project itself. I'm still super worried but my school has sent people to very good grad schools before with about the same level of research. I'm trying not to hype myself up too much but remain positive at the same time.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply you wouldn't get in. Your profile is fine, your GPA is great, and grad school admissions are incredibly unpredictable. I guarantee that having more experience could only help, but that doesn't mean that you couldn't get in now. That's why I say go ahead and apply now if you can afford it, but know that your application would be strengthened with more experience. I'm happy to discuss further if you want. 

  20. 19 hours ago, queerorpheus said:

    I'll be finishing my undergrad degree in biochemistry and molecular biology this upcoming academic year. I think I've been stressing myself out too much about PhD applications. I'm worried because I went to a small liberal arts college so I don't necessarily have a huge wealth of research experience. I have done research (that's hopefully getting published!), but it's in analytical chemistry because that's what was available to me. I'm looking at more bio focused schools but I don't even know if I have a good number of schools or the qualifications to get into any of them. So far I'm applying for:

    Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School -- biochemistry and molecular biology

    Ohio State -- biochemistry

    Pitt -- molecular, cell, and developmental biology

    University of Maryland -- molecular and cell biology 

    I'll probably end up adding to this list because it seems like everyone applies to more programs. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    If you really want to start grad school right away, go ahead and apply to those schools. But if I were you I'd highly consider getting a job as a lab tech or a postbacc and apply after a year of doing that. It'll get you more experience. So since that isn't a long list of schools and you wouldn't lose that much money, maybe apply to those and if you don't get in or feel like you could get in somewhere better with more experience, then look for a lab job first. 

  21. On 5/14/2020 at 9:15 AM, shadiae said:


    I've been accepted and plan to attend a very small PhD in biomedical science program in the state of LA, my advisor told me going here would be okay as long as I get a good post doc. Does anyone know of successful researchers who've gone to little tiny no name schools? I am interested in a project here... there are about 70 biomedical Phd students total across 8 departments..

    I know people who attended a tiny PhD program at a hospital in LA and got great post docs. Small programs can still have great faculty. What matters is how productive you are and how much you accomplish, not where you want. 

    Congrats on getting in! 

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