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About StemCellFan

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  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Biomedical Science PhD
  1. Apply for 2018, or wait for 2019?

    I second the advice to take a year off and work in an academic research lab to get more experience. Industry does offer opportunities for building technical skills and can offer research experience (if you look into R&D specifically), but I think academic research labs will set you up better for publications, abstracts, and conference presentations on academic research. I'm not discounting the work done in an industry lab, but in my experience, work that led to any sort of presentations, publications, or CV bolstering experiences was left to my superiors who held a masters or PhD.
  2. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    Interviews for the programs with rolling application reviews are starting to trickle in. I completed my other apps, though their deadlines are Dec 1st and may not be reviewed until after that date. 2 for 7 so far! Keeping my fingers crossed for more invites to come in in the next month or two.
  3. Ask questions about the PhD application process!

    Okay, I have a weird/stupid question. I have a couple interviews scheduled already, which I know is pretty early. One of them is in mid January and the other in early March. The one in March is the later interview weekend for that program (which is one of my top choices) and I'm wondering if that will put me at a disadvantage interviewing later, because they would have already admitted others by that time. I already booked the other date with the other program, so I had to pick the later interview weekend.
  4. Ask questions about the PhD application process!

    3 is kind of a small number of programs to apply to, but I'm sure there is a reason those are the programs you're specifically aiming for. I don't know what your chances are, but I wouldn't look into anything too closely right now since the first application deadline for many places isn't even here yet. I think everything in your application looks good, but your GRE scores might hurt you. If the adcomms are willing to look past that and look at the rest of your application, with good LoRs and statements, I think you'd be competitive. There are programs out there that weigh GRE scores more heavily than others do (some programs are planning to remove the GRE requirement all together), and I don't know which direction the programs you're applying to will go in. You might want to aim for schools where you have an excellent research fit who care about research experience/LoRs over a standardized test. Anecdotally, I applied a few years ago with a 152V/149Q/3.5AWA. I applied to a range of programs. I had 4 years of research experience (both undergrad and working as a tech), GPA of 3.67, great LoRs and statements, so everything else looked good. I was outright rejected at the top tier programs I applied to, but 3 of the mid to low-tier programs I applied to offered me interviews. I didn't get in anywhere post-interview. Whether I botched the interview or they had to cut people based off of other aspects of their application (i.e. my GRE scores), I'm not sure. Either way, despite having abysmal GRE scores, I managed to get interviews somewhere. This cycle I'm going in with a 152V/152Q/5.0AWA. My scores still suck, but I just suck at taking standardized tests in general. Sending positive vibes your way and best of luck with your applications! The wait is killing me too!
  5. Are GRE Scores the primary cutoff during PhD application process?

    GRE scores aren't all that black and white, but it depends entirely on the school. It's going to depend on what the school places the most emphasis on. I've heard some programs are planning to remove the GRE requirement all together. The averages I've seen for most of the places I'm looking at are within 70% or higher (but this is also an average). I would contact the program to see if they have a strict cut off or not. Anecdotally, I've applied with a 152V/149Q during one cycle years ago and received a couple interviews but ultimately didn't get in. I did get pass the initial screen, but I didn't receive an interview everywhere I applied to either.
  6. Don't have much to say in my academic CV/Resume

    I'm not sure if this will help, but I have 5 years of technician experience and 3 years undergraduate experience. My CV, with everything included, is approximately 2 1/2 pages. I have, in order: 1) Education: lists my degree, major, where I earned my degree, and any honors associated with that (did you graduate summa, magna, cum laude? Did you graduate with honors?) 2) Research experience: this is also my employment history, but I only list relevant research/lab employment history (i.e. any industry tech positions, clinical lab positions). I include my undergrad research here, and also give a brief one-sentence blurb on my projects. 3) Teaching/Tutoring experience: I did tutoring and was a TA, and it's included here. Some places asked for any teaching experience and I think it helps. Especially if those programs have TA requirements 4) Next are publications followed by poster/conference presentations. If you have any presentations with authors and titles you should definitely include them! 5) Next I would put any awards or honors associated with your conference presentations that you received. If you submitted or received grant awards for your research they could go here too 6) Volunteer experience: field-related volunteer experience (i.e. science fairs, volunteering at a museum, help-line work, etc). I volunteered as a science fair judge and a science fair mentor for a year, so I included that in there. This will be different depending on your field. That's how mine is generally laid out. I think you have stuff to put in there that is substantial. The reason you see extremely long CVs is because those people have a lot of conference presentations, invited talks, posters, publications, etc. For young scientists like us, we don't have quite that much, and that's okay.
  7. How many graduate schools should you apply to?

    After narrowing down research interests, programs of interest, and geographical location (if that's a factor that matters to you), I can't imagine anyone wanting to apply to 20+ schools. Each SoP has to be tailored to that program specifically, and if you're just hoping to spread your net as wide as it will go to get in anywhere, I think it will show in your statement. I'm geographically restricted to applying to specific schools in larger cities (due to personal reasons and financial goals) and have a defined area of research I want to go to, so I'm only applying to 7 programs. I originally had 8, but one school was pretty clear about their GRE cut off which mine did not meet. I have one app left to go, and I'm glad I picked the number of schools I did. Personally, I think once you hit the double digits, around 12 or so, that's already a lot. But it will entirely depend on your time commitment and the research you've done into each program. Also, if your program does interview/recruitment weekends, that's something to consider. If you apply to 12 programs you hear back from ALL of them, there's a good chance you'll have conflicting weekends and you'll be traveling A LOT over the interviewing season.
  8. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I already have an interview invite for Case Western Reserve's BSTP program! I got my applications in early and it seems they're already evaluating them before their Dec 1st deadline.
  9. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    Hi! Your stats almost look similar to mine, although you have a few more pubs (and first authors!). I almost want to point out not to stress about your score too much, but if you can retake the GRE to bump your quant to 50% or higher, that would help. I'm in a similar boat, but I could only get my quant to 47%. But you may not need to retake it since it sounds like your research experience is awesome and I'm assuming letters will look great. And committees like to see upward trends in GPA. Given this, though, I would consider maybe applying to a couple lower-tiered schools if you can find any with research that interests you. Good luck!
  10. How to email a lab you want to join

    There ARE programs out there that will take direct admit students and those that admit students to undergo rotations. I would carefully look at the programs you want to apply to, look at their websites, to see what their admission cycles look like. Many programs will admit students through a process where applications are vetted by an admissions committee and your PI of interest may have no say or power in the admissions process. Some programs, however, will only accept students if they are accepted by a PI/lab that has agreed to fund them. If a school does rotations, you need to have multiple faculty identified who you could work with. If you're contacting a PI who is part of a program that admits students for rotations, there is no way they can commit to taking you on a student even if they are looking to take a graduate student, because like other applicants, your application is likely to be reviewed by an established committee. You could ask if they anticipate taking rotation students next fall to get an idea if they are seeking students, but sometimes that is too far in advance for a PI to know for sure. I was advised against contacting labs during this application season because it would be 1.5-2 years by the time I would officially join a lab. During that time, it is possible that a PI hasn't secured enough funding to take another graduate student, maybe a student they thought was ready to graduate isn't, and maybe this year they take a new student after this round of rotations and therefore don't have space in their lab anymore. You never know. I'm personally a fan of the rotation method since you'll hopefully have an idea of whether you like the research you're doing in the laboratory, if you get along with the PI and the lab, and if the PI's mentoring and work styles are compatible with yours.
  11. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    Rotations are done either in the first year or semester of a program (this differs a lot by program) and last for a few weeks. You contact a PI after you are admitted into a program to set up a rotation if he/she are accepting students. My impression is that they are mandatory for the programs that do them, and the number of rotations you do differ from program to program. Some do 2, some do up to 4. The institution I'm working at now does 4 rotations over the course of the first year, 9 weeks each, and there is option for a 5th if none of those work out. If you can't find a lab after that, then you are basically removed from the program. I would look at student handbooks on the websites of the programs, or any other information that lets you know how their systems work. For the last question... I will tell you what the institution I'm working at does for their umbrella biomedical sciences program. For interviews, there are 4 faculty members. One member is on the admissions committee, one is on the recruiting committee, and the other two are individuals whose research you are interested in. The program director will send an email before the interview weekend asking which faculty you would be interested in potentially working with.
  12. How to email a lab you want to join

    I'm also under the impression that programs will specifically say whether they do the rotation method (as in, no single PI can immediately accept a student, they need to go through the formal application process with the admissions committee) or programs will state that all incoming applicants need a PI who is willing to take them as a student before they are even admitted to the program. I would check how, exactly, students are admitted to that program because some are different than others. I don't think that response means you are accepted into her laboratory, but that she is encouraging you to apply.
  13. Ask questions about the PhD application process!

    I don't think anyone is going to look at your publications negatively. They want to see that you are able to contribute in a significant manner to a research project that you can talk about in detail and that you know the subject, and even more impressive if you worked on a project that you saw to completion (in the form of publication, presentation, etc). As to how much publications boost your applications? They can only help your application (even if they are in different fields than what you want study), but they don't make or break an application either, from what I understand.
  14. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I think this looks good, but I would aim to do well on the GRE. GPA looks fine. I don't know why you picked those schools specifically, but I would definitely consider more than 3 schools, especially since those are pretty competitive ones to get into and you're applying as an international student. Good luck!
  15. 2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I've used Kaplan books, Manhattan books, and I've went through the 6 month Magoosh course when it was on discount. I don't have the money or resources to spend on a face-to-face course or anything of that sort, unfortunately. I've taken the test 3 times in the past, and the percentiles were: first time: 30% V, 20% Q, 60% W (this was the old format and I can't find the actual percentiles on ETS, but this is the ballpark estimate) second time: 56% V, 35% Q, 42% W most recent: 56% V, 47% Q, 93% W Based on my trend, it's possible that retaking it and focusing on quant, I could increase my score a little (to at or above 50%). I don't think verbal will change that much, to be honest. Most of my anxiety taking the test happens during the quant section when I realize I spent too much time on some problems and I don't have enough time to finish the section. And then, of course, my poor performance the first half seeps into the second half when I'm demoralized. I would say that most of my studying for the GRE has also been focused on improving my math skills. My entire life I've struggled with mental math, so that might also be factoring into my quant performance, too. When I took practice tests through magoosh and kaplan, I was sitting at around the 60-70% for quant and verbal.