• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About StemCellFan

  • Rank
    Double Shot

Profile Information

  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Biomedical Science PhD
  1. Alternative Career Paths

    So I know that hospitals and departments involved in clinical research like biostaticians who can decipher large amounts of data and information from large patient studies. I don't know how computational biology could play into this, but the mathematical background could help with modeling. Otherwise, I know a lot of clinical research is being driven by the private sector (industry) and these skills could be useful in that area too.
  2. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    Thanks!! I can't wait to start at Madison! I don't think it would be a mistake, but I would make sure there are other professors you are also interested in rotating with while you're at Sinai, and that the prospect of joining these other labs excites you, too. It's possible that this professor may take on a different student (and therefore not have room in his lab for you). Another possibility is that during your rotation you'll realize that although he has a great track record for mentoring students, your personalities just do not mesh. I, personally, wouldn't go somewhere because of a specific PI, but because there are multiple PIs I would love to work with. Another thing to consider is if you don't join his lab, you could always ask him to be on your committee! This may just be me being cautious, but I know that even if the school is prestigious or the lab is one of the best in the field, if the PI and I do not get along, I would be absolutely miserable in my program. And this will be my life for the next 5-6 years. Good luck in your decision! Thanks!! I don't live far from Madison now and have a few friends from high school who went, but I didn't experience the campus until I visited! I was really impressed with their research, biomedical sciences and life sciences programs. I can't wait to start! Go Badgers!
  3. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    Congrats!! Prestige, outcomes, and research aside I think it's important to pick a program you see yourself happy at. In my opinion, happiness will trump anything else, unless you can handle being in an environment that's just ok for 5 or 6 years. I think it's important that you mentioned the community, because what will do you when you are not in the laboratory and focused on research? I know for me, I need to unwind at some point and I'm social. So I want to be with a cohort who I get along with. I also think it's very important to find faculty who are excellent mentors provided you are at least interested in the research they are doing. You just need to pick up the right skills to succeed in a field you find interesting with an excellent mentor, and that is the key to success. Out of the two choices, which are both great programs it sounds like, I would be inclined to pick Harvard. But this is based on factors I prioritized when picking a program. I don't think the area in which you get your PhD matters--what matters is what you do while you are getting your PhD. The skills you gain (techniques, problem solving, presentation skills, grant writing, etc) and success of your research (in the form of publications in excellent journals) is what will matter in the end. Industry, especially, is going to place an emphasis on the laboratory skill set you developed as a student. It's also important to gain skills in networking as that will help you secure a job after the dissertation!
  4. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    Biostatistics is an exception, but for common laboratory techniques I've found it more helpful to either learn it from a lab mate or collaborator who is well-versed in it or self-teach myself the necessary background information for it (either from textbook or a publication on the protocol) before applying it. As I'm learning on my own or with the help of a lab mate or collaborator, I'll take notes. But taking a "techniques course" covering techniques that I may never use or may not use until 4 or 5 years from now isn't all that helpful to me. I'm a hands-on learner in the lab, but everyone's mileage may vary. Say I get a protocol from someone on a specific protein purification procedure (An His-tagged protein or something), I'll ask for the reagents I need or a buffer list, follow the protocol, and from there look up what these buffers are specifically doing on my own time. Some programs I've seen use coursework in the first year to weed out students or get everyone up to speed with a general molecular and cellular biology, but as a tech, I've been applying these principles to my research already and learning the information I need as I go. So I guess a class covering the central dogma in depth isn't something I see as particularly useful at this point. During my interviews I asked how the classes are structured and how they are taught. I've found that some require a lot of memorization (i.e. know the glycolysis pathway like the back of your hand) and others are more discussion-like where the class reads peer-reviewed journals coupled with the week's topic and discuss them. Exams were also structured in a way that you have to devise experiments to attack a question. You are there to do research, and I think too much coursework or a focus on it can detract from it. If I go in wanting to learn cell signaling pathways, specifically g-protein coupled receptors and their downstream signaling cascades as they relate to my transcription factor of interest, I'm not going to be as concerned about the glycolysis pathway I had to memorize in my first year biochemistry class. These are only my preferences though. Some students may really enjoy the classes and want more instruction.
  5. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    Congrats on your acceptances!! I can only tell you things that stand out to me as I would make my decision. 1. I'm not all that interested in classroom teaching as much as I am into research and mentorship, and I think a TA would distract me too much. Therefore I would prefer a program that doesn't have a TA requirement. Stanford would win for me. 2. Coursework is probably the least important factor for choosing a program since I don't see it as that important. The only classes I care about is probably a grant writing course and maybe an ethics course. I would probably go with the one that's either more flexible or doesn't have a lot of coursework I'm required to take. 3. Stanford seems like the winner here. The fact you've started making connections with some of them and building such a good rapport is a good sign! 4. For this, my inclination is that you want to do your graduate work in a lab with a PI who can provide the right amount of guidance you need. Some of the powerhouse labs with legendary PIs are very busy and maybe aren't conducive to the mentorship you need to succeed as a grad student. From what it sounds like here, Stanford is the better pick for your graduate studies, and then moving into one of the legendary PI's labs for your post doc (if that's where you see your career going). 5/6. Eh, Boston/Cambridge would appeal to me more because of how expensive Palo Alto is and I would like to live off campus. This would almost be a deal breaker for me, but I prioritized cost of living, location, and stipend compensation over some other factors (and why I didn't even consider applying to anywhere out of the midwest). 7. I think MIT and Stanford are pretty comparable for prestige. You can't go wrong with either, really. Other things to consider is if you fit in with the culture of one program vs another. Did you get along better with the students at one or the other? The faculty? Are you more social or non-social, and would one program give you more opportunities for social events? Also, does one have better student outcomes than others and can you see yourself having a successful career? MIT and Stanford are both amazing programs/schools, so I can see students being successful at both.
  6. Ask questions about the PhD application process!

    From what I've heard, publications are not the end all be all when it comes to graduate admissions. Have you at least presented your research at a conference in a poster or oral format? If you feel you are ready to apply next Fall (and it sounds like you have a bit of research experience under your belt), I think you have a shot. I have a couple first author pubs in preparation right now, and I just mentioned it in my personal statement, and during my interviews, my interviewers seemed impressed when I talked about it. So even if the paper isn't actually published, you can still mention it as in preparation, in submission, in review, etc. For lit reviews, I haven't done one of those, so I'm not sure what that all entails. But I imagine getting anything published in a reputable journal would be difficult without a PI backing you up.
  7. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    It sounds like you can't go wrong with either, but I'm partial to school B. But I like programs that have research diversity, which means there is potential for collaboration with individuals who have different research backgrounds and focuses that could provide input into a project. This will also open you up to a wider variety of research, assuming that the research being done here is research you are interested in. I would also consider what your goals are after the PhD and try to decide which of the two programs would set you up nicely for the next step afterwards (which it sounds like school B would provide). This is just how I would decide. They both sound like great programs. Best of luck and congrats your acceptances!
  8. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    That is awesome!!! Congratulations!
  9. 2018 Neuroscience PhD Applicants and Admission Results

    Hahaha. Not weird at all! It certainly gave me a funny mental image. I hope you hear some good news soon! Congrats!!
  10. 2018 Neuroscience PhD Applicants and Admission Results

    It would make sense to have a funding decision before making official offers. This way they have a package set up for the applicants they want to admit to the program. That you received an email like that indicating a "funding decision" beforehand is kind of odd. Maybe it's their way of saying they are making admissions decisions at the time?
  11. Typical vs atypical program

    What do you mean by more opportunities for personal development? I would consider what your end goal is and if School 2's opportunities for development will prepare you better for it. I was in a similar situation, and if I had not gotten an offer from the school I decided on, I would have been making some very tough decisions. Luckily, my spouse will be able to find a job in the city we're moving to and meet his professional goals while I meet mine as well. I don't know if he could anywhere else, so this was a huge factor I considered in choosing schools to apply to and in picking the program I want to attend. If it was my decision, I would go with the school that would also fit with my spouse's interests because that was something important for both of us. If you think that the opportunities at School 2 for personal development will set you up much better after the PhD than those at School 1, I would go to School 2. This is assuming research fit, program fit, etc are fairly similar between the two.
  12. Choosing Between Schools Advice

    As far as mentor choice, it's true that you don't really know for sure until you go through rotations. I've been basing my observations on this by talking to students or meeting the faculty myself, but yeah my advice on this is probably better suited for someone trying to pick their thesis lab after rotations! As far as program vs. research, I don't know what is objectively more important. For me, research fit would outweigh the program structure, unless it was terrible in my eyes (i.e. students typically graduate on the 7 year end rather than 5, no students have been successful in securing pre-doctoral awards, you're constantly taking required classes throughout your PhD, etc)
  13. Choosing Between Schools Advice

    I was advised by multiple people on my interviews that mentor is ultimately more important than the research you are doing. Yes, you want to do research you like and are interested in, but what you get out of your time as a PhD student is going to depend on how well you are mentored and the connections you will be able to build. I don't know what you mean by not liking the second school's program structure. Do you know what the mentors would be like at each school in the areas of research you would be doing? One of the schools I interviewed at had a few students transfer out of the program I would probably end up in, and that was a huge red flag for me. Location differs from individual to individual. Location was one of the most important factors for me, but for others it's not a big deal. I personally wanted to live in an area that I liked and had very affordable cost of living. I'm taking a big pay cut going back to school and don't know if I would be comfortable rooming with random people and living off of rice and beans. I didn't want to live in a massive city either. This took some schools out of the equation for me. But, there will be times when you are relaxing and not working in the laboratory, and when you have that free time, do you think you will enjoy living where you are at outside of the lab?
  14. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    Congrats!!! I don't blame you for not wanting to live in SF.
  15. "Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition

    I saw you have Madison as one of your choices. If you haven't visited the city before or want more information on the state of Wisconsin, I can give you some! As far as the Communications department, I'm useless, unfortunately.