samman1994

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Everything posted by samman1994

  1. Is my application that weak?

    I second what those above have said. I'm not going to attempt to understand why the person said what they did, or judge their character,(many potential factors), but from my searches, you're application is not only good, I'd say it's really good. I think if you get good GRE scores, you'll not only have a chance, but a pretty good one. In fact, I'd say don't look at lower schools. The general trend here appears to be, most people with really good applications (such as yours), actually end up getting rejected at some lower tier schools because the schools think you won't pick them (since you can get into better schools). Regardless, of why they said the statement, its bogus. Edit: I have a 3.00 GPA and low GRE scores, and no ones told me not to apply (even though I'm pretty sure I won't get into my top school picks). So gives you some perspective
  2. Made a separate post about this a while ago. When you do bad, you feel terrible initially. Makes you feel like you're not good enough, you're an idiot, you should just give up grad school, etc. But then you realize the GRE is garbage, and that it's only one part of an application (a part that many departments are starting to look less and less at). So even if you do retake it, regardless of your score, I'd say apply to the schools and fuck the test. It's a stupid test, everyone knows it, it's just something that needs to be done.
  3. So made a few more changes 1) Rewrote the entire intro 2) Discussed my role in the research and my thought process (rather than I did then, then this, then this). I now explain why I do what I did. 3) Went into even more detail on my focus. Discuss only one faculty member now, and what role I would have in their lab and where I could fit in. 4) Cut out out the entire instrumentation paragraph, and made it only 2 sentences describing how I would use the instruments and for what purpose. 5) Rewrote the conclusion to display a more detailed focus for my future career.
  4. Hello everyone, I had made a previous post about this, but I recently made it a google doc so it's easier for you guys to look at it, comment, and edit (if you so desire). This way, there is no need for PMs, or emails, or a bunch of comments to be made on this post regarding that. https://docs.google.com/document/d/143O5ez8D8Zs-EKr-IBWVfOFAPbKfgRlbAvdp6BzowjM/edit?usp=sharing As of the moment, I know the intro is a bit generic, so I am working on fixing it. I also know it is a bit long and am currently working on shortening it. A few ideas I'm currently working on as of the moment (e.g. talk about less faculty members, but go into more detail regarding the ones I do discuss. I also don't go into too much detail regarding my focus, so I plan on integrating the details of my focus when I discuss the faculty members research in detail). So if you guys get a chance to look at it, please let me know what you think! Thank you ahead of time!
  5. Yeah with that word count that can be difficult. If there is one thing I've sorta come across writing my own SOP, is that you have to be very selective about what you want to talk about (especially in your case). I came across the issue that my SOP was more like a resume instead of a story. I listed a lot of general techniques and skills that I knew, and wanted to learn, but I didn't go into detail for any of them due to page limits. So instead, I cut out a bunch of stuff out, and focused on the most useful skills that would relate to my field, and instead went into detail with them. This also really helped my transitions as well, and made my SOP as a whole more organized. So instead of saying, I've become responsible, mature, learned organization, trouble shooting, critical thinking, maturity, etc. I decided to focus on just trouble shooting, organization, and responsibility instead. Bringing my list down to 3 made it a lot easier to link them together, and discuss them in more detail by showing how I am organized and responsible (rather than stating it).
  6. Yeah, I was personally thinking #2 as well, it flows better and relates to my SOPs theme as well (structural biology and biophysics). Thanks for the feedback guys!
  7. Hello everyone, First and foremost, I want to apologize for asking so many questions in general (and cluttering up the feeds with them). I hope at the very least they are at least good questions that other people may have and can find answers to. I had a question regarding the final portion of your SOP where you discuss your future goals/plans. How specific should I be? For example, my eventual goal is to understand how a particular disease/protein involved in disease works, and through that, design a drug around that (and also test drugs interactions); thereby curing the disease/problem. Now this is very general of course. The detailed version would probably look at a particular type of diseases, and then say focus on one disease such as Alzheimers. Alzheimers is caused primarily by aggregating amyloid plaques, so if I were to be super specific: I'd like to use the structural biology and biophysical skills I've learned at X school, to solve Alzheimers by elucidating the structure of amyloid plaques and finding out how to disrupt the formation of these aggregates in the first place (i.e. preventing Alzheimers from happening). So my question is again, how specific do you want to be? 1) I want to cure disease by understanding how proteins work. 2) I want to cure neurodegenerative diseases by understanding how proteins function through solving their structure and probing their dynamics 3)I want to cure Alzheimers by elucidating the structure of amyloid plaques and disrupting their formation Each level is more specific in its focus, and its methodology addressing how to solve the focuses problem.
  8. Well naturally I wouldn't word it exactly like that, these were merely examples of how detailed or specific I should be (e.g. I would never just say I want to cure disease by seeing how proteins work)
  9. Hello everyone, So I've had a few people look at my SOP lately, and there have been 3 things I haven't quite been able to address. I've added excerpts from my SOP to show you what I mean. 1) How does one discuss faculty research in their SOP? Do you write what they do, and what parts interest you? Or what parts you can contribute (e.g. maybe discuss the potential direction their project can go and what you can contribute to it)? As my SOP stands, I simply state what the faculty member does, why its important, and how it falls into my interests (earlier I had stated my focus was on elucidating protein mechanism via understanding its structure and dynamics, to help aid drug design) E.G. Dr. X research on Enzyme Y fits my interests perfectly. His use of NMR and SAXS to elucidate the structure and dynamics of Y is a key step in understanding the mechanism of EI in the PTS pathway. His work on elucidating the allostery of Y through his structural and dynamic work on it, provides crucial information for drug design targeting metabolic diseases. 2) Should you discuss mental development? What I mean by this is, in my SOP, I discuss how joining an undergraduate research lab has helped me grow and mature, and what skills I've attained from the experience (i.e. troubleshooting, responsibility, time management skills, etc.). E.G. The lab also helped me mature as a person, and is the key contributor to my desire to continue my education and pursue a PhD. Being part of a lab full time, and taking classes full time, really taught me how to meet deadlines and manage my time better. 3) How does on discuss the instrumentation at the school? Do you discuss why the instrument/facility is great and what things it can be used for it? Or do you get more specific and discuss how that specific instrument can be useful or aid you in your interests, or the faculties project? E.G. School X has an amazing state of the art NMR facilities with 500, 600, and 700MHz instruments perfect for both liquid and solid state work. The chemistry department also has a great list of diffractors, microscopes, and mass spectrometers that are perfect for studying crystal structures of proteins that are difficult to elucidate using NMR, or for proteins that don’t express in enough quantities for either NMR or crystallography.
  10. Hello everyone, So thought I would just share some basic information that I have collected recently on LORs, and uploading them. From all the schools I've seen for grad programs, almost all of them have a deadline between December 1-5th. Now you may be planning to start/submit your application a week or two in advance, however, the school contacts the faculty members after you input their information. Meaning, if you start your application and submit it two weeks before the deadline, that gives your LOR writers only 2 weeks to write it (if they haven't already) and to upload it. This deadline is approaching finals week for some school, and final projects, meaning professors will be very busy (and thus annoyed if they suddenly find out they have to write and submit your LOR in a week, and you do not want an annoyed professor writing your letter). For many schools, you can actually start your application, input the LOR writers information, and have them upload it to your application even before you finish your application for submission. So that means you can start your application right now, and fill out the sections you have (including the LOR writers), and the school will send your writer an email right now. That gives your LOR writer a little under 2 months to write and submit your letter. This gives them plenty of time, and decreases your chance of them sending a letter late. Now not all schools do this (e.g. Iowa State) and some schools have you send the writer a link for them to upload their LOR (e.g Harvard). But from what I've seen, most of the schools will send your writer an email as soon as you input the information (even if you don't finish the application right then and there). In fact, most schools will even inform you when the letter has been uploaded and by who (so if your faculty member has forgotten, you know who to email to remind them). Tl'dr Start your applications now, and input your LOR writers information now (or as early as possible). This way you avoid rushed/annoyed faculty members writing it, and potentially having missing letters when you apply.
  11. I see. I personally sat down with each of my LOR writers, updated them as to the schools I picked, my status, and my plan in applying to the school. All of them preferred the idea of having it sent early so they can submit it now (or in the following month) instead of near the end of school. So I just assumed everyone would rather have it early than before, but I understand what you mean. Although, something that slightly does concern me, none of my writers really even cared where I was applying to, or for what programs. I mean, I sorta gave them a brief outline (wanna do Biochemistry), but nothing in detail. So when you tell me your writers want to know the program and the research you plan to do, I'm thinking, oh wow that's really good, none of my writers seemed to care. Not that I think my LOR aren't going to be good or anything, but seems like your writers are definitely putting much more though and effort into it. Edit: Although, it may be because 2 of my writers are synthetic and physical chemists, and I'm applying to a Biochemistry program (they probably don't understand much about the details of my research plans even if I told them, so maybe that's why they didn't ask)
  12. Well that's exactly my point. If you do all this early (as in now), that gives plenty of time for them to write it, for you to remind them, to resubmit if the school loses it etc. Leaving all these potential problems to the last 2-3 weeks puts pressure on everyone, so this is why I think it's best to do it as early as possible (even if it gets lost in the sea of emails right now). Personally, I didn't know I could do this (again not all schools as I stated), so I thought I'd inform people not only you can, but its highly recommended to do so.
  13. Iowa State University Fall 2017

    Hi, So I know this is pretty old, but did you end up going? I'm interested in going to Iowa State as well.
  14. Interesting enough, I feel like I said the same thing when looking at your SOP. Yeah you're right, I'll have to find a way to show those skills, but in a concise way. Thankx!
  15. Thank you for the reply! So: 1) Yeah, I think that's definitely a much better approach than what I do. As it stands, I'm describing what faculty membersdoes, and you can draw line between what they want to do and what I want to do, but it's not explicitly stated. I think I should probably ditch just summerizing their work and hoping the adcom can see the line draw, and discuss key parts of their research and how it fits into my interests (explicitly). 2) I didn't fully post the whole paragraph for it, but the entire paragraph is basically about how I learned to be responsible, through time management, critical thinking, and juggling multiple research and lab. In research, I feel like responsibility and maturity is actually very important, one that is not usually discussed. However, it plays a huge role in the research capabilities of a person, and from what I've seen, many people lack it and thus make poor researcher (despite their good grades or intellect). Here is the rest of it so you can see what I mean: "Working with other people in a similar time-constricted schedule as myself, taught me how to work not only as a team, but how to work efficiently and cleanly so as to not obstruct anyone else’s work. Since I was the only person assigned to my project, I learned how to pursue my project independently, relying on my own knowledge and data analysis skills to direct my project. Combined, all these skills taught me the most important skill, responsibility. Responsibility for my project, my time, my data, my notebook, my school and grades. With these skills in hand, I feel confident that, although a PhD program is big commitment, I am not only ready for it, but will succeed in it." 3) I think in regards to this then, it would probably be best to describe some of the instrumentation (instead of all of them) and again, explicitly state how I would use them. I think the main problem regarding faculty and their facilities is, I'm not drawing explicit lines, but rather just implying things. I.e. "This is what I want to do, this is what the faculty does, this is what the instrument does." Now since the faculty and instrument do what I want to do, one could assume ok so that's why I'm interested, but I think it's a poor way to do it. I think I should probably write explicitly out what sections of the faculties research I would fit into and could contribute to. Same with the instrumentation, probably ditch the instrumentation list+uses, and explicitly state which instruments I would be using and how (in regards to my research interests). I.E. Rather than saying the NMR will be good for liquid state/solid state. Go into more detail about what kind of experiments I could run, and how it would be useful for solving the structural components of proteins. Thanks for the feedback!
  16. Basics of Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants, and Stipends

    Well I've picked my schools, found the professors I want to work with, and even started the applications halfway. Now I've started to work on my SOP, but have a lot of time between editing. So wanted to start looking into fellowships and maybe apply with the deadlines coming up soon. Thank you all for your help and advise!!
  17. Hello everyone, So I am quite unfamiliar with the whole funding process regarding graduate schools, so I was hoping someone could just give me a basic run down. For example: What is the difference between a fellowship and a scholarship? I know a few scholarship programs for undergraduate programs that gave money based on a variety of things (sometimes grades, others because you were a certain minority group, etc.), but how is this different from a fellowship? I know a Grant is similar in a scholarship, except it is not based on merit, but instead based on financial situations. For example, you are eligible for grants if you are low income, but it doesn't matter if you are a 4.0 student, or a 2.5 student (at least from my knowledge). A stipend is like a grant, but it is for grad school, and is given to all students despite their financial situation, and is also not merit based either (I think it's different for different fields, my knowledge is only for STEM fields). Assistantships is a bit confusing. From what I've read, I don't know if this is part of the stipend money, or this is extra to that. There appears to be a couple kinds (Teaching, Research, and in some cases Graduate Research). For example, a Teaching Assitantship seems to be money given for teaching, research assistant ship is money given for research that is not related to your dissertation/thesis, and a graduate research is money given directly for working towards your dissertation (don't know how this is any different than a stipend). Now some schools mandate you teach a certain amount of classes as part of their program, but I believe the funding for you teaching is part of your stipend, so I don't think you get anything extra. So outside of loans, there appears to be plenty of different fellowships, grants, stipends, and assistantships that help fund your graduate program. Many of these can stack as well (i.e. you receive a stipend and a fellowship), but how do these work? What is the difference between them? And how does on find/go after them? Stipends seem to be automatic/implied, but each school has their own fellowship, and then you have external fellowships such as the NIH, so how do these work? I'm primarily looking for just basic explanations. Any help would greatly be appreciated. Thank you!
  18. Basics of Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants, and Stipends

    But should I look at this once I have an adviser and a dissertation picked? Or is it better to start as early as possible and for me to start trying to apply for fellowships before I even apply to the schools themselves?
  19. Basics of Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants, and Stipends

    These fundable ideas, do they have to, and can they be based off your dissertation? I have plenty of ideas from various papers I've read that I think could be fundable, but they'd probably be somewhat different than my dissertation (seeing as how I'm not even enrolled in a school yet). Also how detailed and long do they have to be? Are they basically like grant proposals? Because those are usually very long and detailed. And are they just paying you because you wrote a nice grant proposal, or are they paying you to actually pursue the idea you presented to them? If so, are they looking for results for it? From the gist of it, from the STEM field, it seems like the main thing for a fellowship is just prestige, and the ease to work on your own project without having to do work on anything else in the lab or teach. I have been super focused on my SOPs, choosing schools, and applying recently, so I now just started looking at this. I am assured full funding (around 30K) at every school I'm looking at. As someone who isn't even in grad school yet, is this something I should be concerning myself with? Or should I wait till I get situated, decide my dissertation, and then start to look for fellowships targeting my dissertation.
  20. Basics of Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants, and Stipends

    I see thank you guys for the clarification. So I guess to extend the question then, why are fellowships so highly sought after? Is it because other departments (outside of STEM) are not fully funded, and thus people outside those majors want full funding? Is it for the title and prestige? Is it because you don't have to TA or anything like that?
  21. How to email a lab you want to join

    Hello everyone, So I officially have a list of professors at 6 different schools that I would be applying to for my PhD. Now I'm in the process of emailing them to see if they have room, are accepting students, and have available funding. My question is though, how do you proceed about doing this? Do you just email them "Hi Dr. Blank, I am interested in joining your lab for a PhD program this date, are you accepting students?" Or is it more involved? The lab I am looking at are all things I have done before in my previous lab, so I'm pretty sure I would already be a very good fit for the labs I am looking at. Furthermore, my application is not very strong, so I would like to convince these POIs that they want me in their lab, and that I would be a great addition to the school and their lab (so that they could personally push my application further). That being said, I have no idea how to go about this. There are a couple issues that I have that I was hoping you guys could help me out with. 1) I have a minimum of 3 POIs from each school, and I would theoretically ask them all at the same time if they have room or not in their lab (within the same school). However, if I am also trying to convince the POI that I would be a good fit in their lab, I don't want to basically email all 3 of them and go on about how great their lab is, and what i like about it and why I really want to join. The reason for this is, say all of them do have room, and say they'd love to take me on (after I go on about how amazing their lab is). Say I do get accepted in the school, and now there are 3 professors waiting for me to join their lab. If I pick one over the other, I feel as if it'll look bad (i.e. wait you told me my lab was the best and exactly what you were looking for, why did you join theirs then?). Or on the off chance they have a discussion (before I apply) and find out I told all 3 of them basically the same story (e.g. your lab is the best), in which case then I look fake, and none of them will want to take me on. Should I only ask 2 if they have room and that I'd like to join their lab, but try and sell myself to the 3rd one? Should I not even contact the other professors if my ideal one says they have room? I don't really know how to go about this, so any help would be appreciated. 2) How do I start? What do I say? Again, I'd like to see if the lab has room, and I'd also like to sell myself a bit. That being said, I feel like it would be rushing if I started out immediatly saying, Hi Dr. blank, my name is blank, and this is why I would be a good fit in your lab etc etc etc. I'd imagine you'd probably email and just say you have an interest in their lab and wanted to see if they had room and were accepting students, and if they agreed, then maybe go on and sell yourself? So 1st email is icebreaker intent to join, 2nd email is selling yourself? Again, I really don't know how to go about even contacting them, so any help here would be appreciated. My main concern is, this field is relatively small, and most of the faculty know each other across the country (that do similar research). This field is also where I plan to do my career in, so I really don't want to burn any bridges or give bad impressions. Thank you again as always!
  22. Basics of Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants, and Stipends

    Thank you! So just to make sure I understand, stipends are funding directly from the school, and can come from a variety of sources (teaching, the PIs grant, etc.). Fellowships are external funding sources, however they usually replace your stipend (meaning you don't have to do the teaching, or get money from your PIs grant). And scholarships are at an undergraduate level, and fellowships at a graduate level.
  23. Faculty Members supporting application question?

    So I just called them, and it's basically if they are providing you with a letter of recommendation. So yeah, it's for current students primarily.
  24. Hi Guys, So I've started to fill out the basics of the applications for PhD programs at various schools, and I've come across a question here that is a little bit confusing. The application asks: "Some programs require applicants to list faculty members of interest or faculty members supporting the application" Now the first portion is faculty members I'm interested in, but the second section is asking faculty members supporting my application. Does this mean faculty members that I've talked to that have already said they're interested in having me? I don't exactly know what this question means. Any help will be appreciated thank you!