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About StemCellFan

  • Rank
    Double Shot

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  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Biomedical Science PhD

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  1. I might be playing devil's advocate here, but I would really think about which program is going to set you up for your career. You want to join a lab who's research is interesting to you, but ultimately that lab should have a mentor and environment that is going to set you up for success later on. You could join a lab that has the best research fit, but you don't mesh as well with the PI, or you could join a lab with less interesting research but the PI is amazing. In that case, I would choose the latter in a heartbeat. The PI, environment, and program support can be what makes or breaks your graduate school experience even if that research is extremely interesting to you. I think, as long as you are at least interested in the research at Duke, if you are committed to a career path that Baylor is very negative about, you might find better success at Duke. The PhD is a crucial step towards your career goals, but positions (academia and industry) are still competitive to land, and you do want to be as prepared as possible. Just my 2 cents.
  2. Your offer shouldn't be rescinded for a D. They will want your transcripts after you graduate, but this is to verify that you actually graduated with your Bachelors. If this D doesn't stop you from getting your degree you're set.
  3. I don't think your numerical stats are what caused you to be rejected post-interview. A 3.3 GPA isn't awful. I think what you should focus on is research, securing better letters of rec if the ones you currently used aren't the best, and revising your SOP for the next round of applications. I don't know what your interviews were like, but the fact you were invited means that despite having a GPA of 3.3, they still were interested in inviting you out and meeting you in person. From what I've heard, from the admissions committee at my school because I asked this, is that they are looking for 2 main things when they interview someone: 1) do they really want to go to the school? People who really want to go to the program are more likely to be successful and happy there, and 2) are they able to demonstrate that they understood their projects at a deep level to communicate about them? What they are looking for is whether they were curious, were able to be at least semi-independent, understood the methods and significance of their project, etc. Because that is a predictor of success in graduate studies. They aren't looking for people who only did routine genotyping, for example, and didn't understand anything about the projects there were working on. Point 1 is going to come from researching the institutions and applying for programs that you think will be a good research or program fit for you. I would think about what really excites you about science or your area of research and find a number of faculty at an institution doing that sort of research. If you are invited, really make it clear that you want to go there. Even if you aren't 100% sold on the program, make it clear that if you were accepted, you would be happy to consider that program. Point 2 will come from more research experience, and will be communicated by what you are able to convey and what your recommenders will be able to say about you and your contributions to your projects. Conference presentations and publications will help with this too. The best way to do this, if you are able to, would be to work as a research technician for a couple of years in a laboratory that will let you work on projects. If you want to do a masters degree, that is up to you, but given your GPA and GRE, I don't know if it's the best route to go because your stats aren't that bad. I would also consider a range of schools. I think it does help if you work with someone who is known in the field. I found that it helped me communicate with PIs at some of the places I interviewed at. I know a few of my interviewers were like "oh, I see you worked with Dr. Soandso, I see you worked at this institution, I see you have experience with this, etc", and it helped open up a conversation. I had to apply a second round for programs with a really bad GRE and a 3.42 cumulative GPA, and with 5 years of experience and a couple middle author papers and one first author in submission and 1 other first author in preparation, I interviewed at 6/7 schools and was accepted post-interview to all of them. I applied to a range of top 20 to top 100.
  4. I would not focus on the GPA or the GRE (your GPA is perfectly fine here). I doubt either of those two factors affecting your outcome this cycle. I would focus on getting more research experience, getting more or better letters of recommendation, and revising your personal or research statements. Unless you are interested in a niche area of research or have financial constraints, I would apply to more programs next cycle or widen your net (though the range of choices you have seems ok here).
  5. I'm a domestic student, so I don't have advice for international students specifically. However, my general advice is to think about what your end goal is. If your end goal is a PhD, I don't know if a masters degree is what you need. It definitely won't hurt and it could help, but I only advise masters degrees for people who either have a poor GPA and need to boost it or are going into a different field and need more background experience before applying to the PhD (i.e. general biology to biomedical engineering). In your case, it sounds like you have a bit of research experience and an excellent GPA. In this case, my general advice is to see if there are any post-bacc or research positions open to work in a lab the next year or two and apply again. If you decide to go the masters route, look for places that will at least give you some funding and partial/full tuition remission. If you do apply again, I would select a range of schools instead of just the top programs. The top programs are already extremely competitive and competition for spots can be even worse for international students due to funding.
  6. I sent thank you emails to the administrator, director, and faculty I interviewed with at my top choice program. I wanted the director to know that this was the program I really wanted to go to, and he said during the interview weekend to let him know if this was your top choice (which I also included in my thank you email). I did get into all the places I interviewed at, so I think it's a nice gesture but I wouldn't say it's necessary.
  7. First-year at UW Madison but in a different program than CMB or Genetics. It doesn't usually make a big difference since faculty recruit students from different programs. There are some differences with regard to coursework requirements and possibly stipends (I didn't ask about other students' stipends though), you may be required to TA at some point, but the students in either of those programs who did rotations with me seemed happy in those programs. I heard that the first-year Genetics students were highly encouraged to submit GRFPs and I know a couple who did.
  8. I think it depends on the program you are applying to. I applied to biomedical sciences umbrella programs and I was told I didn't need to contact anyone, and that stating my research interests (and maybe name dropping a couple PIs) in an SOP was enough. Because some PIs don't really know what their funding situation or projects for students won't be, and depending on the program, it may be a year or two before you officially join a lab. I didn't contact any PIs when I sent in my applications and I got interviews at 6 out of 7 programs I applied to. On the other hand, some programs encourage applicants to contact PIs and may need PI approval before accepting a student into the program. I would look into what the program's website says for this. Some people I know who contacted PIs at umbrella programs got the typical "yes, I anticipate taking a student next year. I encourage you to apply to X program". But that PI doesn't necessarily have a ton of input into the admissions process.
  9. For your first question, I'm in a program somewhat geared towards industry (Pharm/Tox) so placement in my program might be skewed compared to general Cell and Molecular Biology or Genetics, for example. For my program it's about 40% postdoc/academia and 60% industry or other non-academic science careers. Industry positions range from scientists to project management or clinical development. I think most of my cohort, myself included, want to go into industry afterwards. The programs themselves are highly interdisciplinary. In my Pharm/Tox program there are trainers who range from neurodevelopment to drug discovery/drug design. There are a wide range of faculty trainers and they will recruit from different programs, so that also means that in a lab, there may be graduate students from different programs there working on projects. It's also really easy for a faculty member to become a trainer for a program if a student is interested in rotating with them. My coursework is geared towards my program, but the electives add a bit of diversity.
  10. My school does this. From what my program coordinator told me, there are students that definitely apply to more than one program, and you can alter your SOP and LORs to fit an additional application. Students may get interviews at 2 of 3 programs, but interviews at all 3 is uncommon. I would reach out to a program coordinator to make sure you're going through the process correctly if you are unsure.
  11. It's difficult to gauge whether you will be outright rejected since you are well-rounded on paper. It will come down to your LORs and your SOP since there's nothing here that indicate that your app will immediately get sent to the "no" pile. For applicants who don't have glaring flaws in their application, it really is a crapshoot since graduate school admissions aren't like med school ones. It really depends on whether YOU are ready to go to graduate school or not. Would YOU feel more comfortable taking a couple years off before applying? There is nothing wrong with sending out applications this year and taking a lab tech job for a couple years if you're rejected (except you're maybe out ~1000 dollars). There's also nothing wrong with taking time off--many students these days are taking time off before going back to school with stronger applications. And like BabyScientist said, you should have at least 3 faculty at each program you are interested in working with, if not more than that, before you apply. Committees can tell if applicants are just fishing for "prestige schools" with no real research fit.
  12. The SOP should be individualized for each program and explain why you are applying to that program, what you can bring, and what they can give to you to help you grow as a scientist, independent researcher, etc. And yes, you should have at least 3-5 faculty you would be willing to work with at each school you apply to. I think you have a shot with your background at the schools you listed but it's always good to have a range of places to apply to. I know for UWMadison, there are about 8 programs here that waived the requirements for the GRE if you are at all worried about that--but I also heard for my program, we are getting more applicants than in previous years because we waived the requirement. If you have any questions about the programs at Madison feel free to PM me!
  13. Hi, I think you have a decent shot at most of those programs on your list. I think you will be competitive for UW Madison's program. It'll come down to your personal statement, research experience, and letters of rec, so I'd make sure you are able to write a compelling and personalized statement for each of those programs. I got in on my 2nd try, and I worked as a research tech in a lab. I made sure to join a lab that would allow me to do research projects rather than just genotyping, making solutions, or other routine work. This gave me more research experience to talk about and another strong letter of rec.
  14. Hi! I think your school choice looks okay. You have a mixture of tiers in there which I think is good. I also wanted to mention that age does not matter for applicants, at least not in bio. I was 30 when I applied for school, got in, and no one batted an eye at my age. And there were at least a couple fellow prospectives on my interviews who were around my age. Everyone has their own paths to graduate school (and beyond). I'm in a different area, so I don't know any other good schools to apply to, but I think if you focus on your fit with the school when writing your personal statement/research statement, you should at least get an interview if these programs do that.
  15. I would apply to a mix of both and see what happens! I'm not in Immunology so I can't verify what your friend says is true or not, but I don't think it hurts to apply to both Immunology and BBS programs (with the intent to rotate in Immunology labs). BBS programs will have you take more general coursework with the option to do electives in your area of interest. Chances are you will take Immunology courses in a BBS program anyway. Umbrella biomedical sciences programs will usually have a microbiology/immunology department you can join at the end of rotations. At the end of your PhD, what matters is whose lab you are graduating from. Unless the program is horribly disorganized or have impossible graduation requirements, I think you should be fine.
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