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About StemCellFan

  • Rank
    Double Shot

Profile Information

  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Biomedical Science PhD

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  1. StemCellFan

    Emailing PIs of interest before admission

    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.
  2. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    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.
  3. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    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.
  4. StemCellFan

    Neuroscience PhD apps-- too much reach?

    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.
  5. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    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!
  6. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    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.
  7. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    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.
  8. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    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.
  9. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    To answer your question about the best programs to apply to, I would focus less on the particular program but more on the research interests of the faculty within that program. So if the faculty tend to cluster to biomedical sciences, apply there rather than general biology. Other things to consider when it comes to program choice: Is TAing a requirement? Are there opportunities within the program that speak to your specific career goals? What are their prelims like? How might their committee meetings and graduation requirements differ (number of required publications, etc). I don't think the core coursework or the type of program should be a major determining factor, IMO. I think if you are interested in Immunotherapy and Immunology and want to apply to those programs, throw a couple applications out there and see what happens! Umbrella biomedical sciences programs are also good for this since there are usually immunology faculty associated with those.
  10. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I think it's really good you have diverse experiences in research. I think to help your chances, you should narrow your research interests down, even if it's something as broad as cancer biology or immunology. If a program your applying to has a defined field you are interested, highlight how your research interests coincide with faculty X, Y, Z, or the overall research program, because that will demonstrate how you fit into their program. For example, if you've done research in toxicology, cancer biology, and developmental organismal biology, and the program you're interested in at U Penn is focused more on cancer bio, perhaps elevate your cancer bio research experiences to demonstrate how well you'd fit into their program.
  11. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I don't think your chances are that bad considering what you've told us here. I think 4 schools may have been too small a number to apply to last year. I would definitely look over your personal statement, reaffirm that you have 3 strong LoRs, and revise your CV--look to see what may have went wrong last year and open your net a little more like you are doing this cycle. I think you have a good list here.
  12. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I think you have a good philosophy and I think that shouldn't apply anywhere you do not see yourself going. If you have one school on the list because it's a safety school but you would not be happy there or would never go there, I would not apply. I would take a year or two off and (re)apply to the schools you actually would be interested in going to. That said, you have a tough list of schools there, and your scores are good and your research experience is decent. Do you have any presentations? Will you have 3 solid LoRs? I think the application season might be rough--but apply anyway. If you don't get in this season, take a year or two off, work in a research lab, and reapply.
  13. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I would go ahead and send the the second set of scores. Percentile-wise, there isn't too huge of a difference between your two verbal scores, but your AW jumps from a 17% to a 41%. AW is the score they care least about. Either way, your verbal scores are still pretty decent and are above the 70th percentile.
  14. StemCellFan

    Updating my CV

    Hi, To answer some of your questions: 1) I would take out anything that's not related to research or teaching. It doesn't matter if you've done it as a high school student, if you've done research, I would definitely include it on there. Teaching I would put under a separate section 2) Mine starts with my name, education, research experiences, bibliography/publications, presentations, teaching experiences, I have a small section on the two undergraduate grants I wrote, if you have awards (like a poster award) you can add that, and I have my relevant volunteer information last (ex. science fair judging). 3) I went into a fair amount of detail with my research. I mentioned what my projects were or what my job duties were if I was a tech. I didn't go into background, significance, or into the techniques I used too much when describing my research in the CV. I saved that information for my research or personal statements.
  15. StemCellFan

    2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    No problem! I was a couple years out from my undergrad before I got a middle author paper from my thesis work and another from my work as a technician. And it's taken me almost 5 years post-undergrad to get to the point where I have a couple first publications coming out. I think what's considered a good impact journal, outside of the prestigious ones, depends entirely on your field. I work in blood research right now, and the top journals for us are Blood (Impact factor: ~15), ATVB (Impact factor: ~6), and Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostsis (Impact factor: ~5.5). Journal of Clinical Investigation (IF: ~13) is also popular for us it seems. This will differ for people in the Neuro field. Journals that are associated with major conferences or societies generally have good impact factors and are well-regarded in those specific fields. I don't want to put too much emphasis on impact factors since that also differs from field to field, but even journals with lower impact factors (i.e. 1 or 2) would still look good to an admissions committee, as long as the paper went through the whole stringent peer-reviewed process.

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