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About FishNerd

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  • Interests
    Aquatic systems and organisms - molecular ecology and evolutionary genomics
  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Biology (Ecology and Evolution) PhD

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  1. FishNerd

    Do I have to send in my study abroad transcripts?

    It will probably depend on the program. I had pretty much the exact same situation as you during my applications and two of my schools were completely fine with just the transcript from the university I attended which showed the grade from my study abroad. My third school flagged my transcript as missing for the school my grade was granted through for my study abroad but then I contacted the admissions office and explained what was going on. The admissions office ended up not requiring my transcript from the school I studied abroad through once I explained my situation. However, this was only for one course, so my experience might have been different if I had a whole semester's worth of courses I studied abroad for. What I would recommend when it comes time for applications is to contact the admissions department and see if they will need the transcript for your study abroad through Loyola University Chicago that way you don't pay for that extra transcript to be sent if you don't have to.
  2. FishNerd

    Applying to 'elite' ecology programs with low GPA?

    Honestly I don't think I would worry too much about your GPA, especially if you can get a good GRE score. I think what matters most for ecology programs is the type of research experience and how applicable that experience is to the labs/advisors that you will be applying to work with. In ecology programs you usually have to have an advisor(s) picked out and contact them to see if they are accepting students since most ecology programs require you to say somewhere on your application that an advisor is willing to take you into their lab for the year you are applying for. Some advisors may advertise that they want students with a certain GPA but most are looking for students who have research experience or interests that aligns with the type of research that they do. Typically advisors will want to chat with you/do an interview and if they have any questions about your GPA you could explain it during that process. So what I recommend is making sure that there is a lab or multiple labs you are interested in working with at these programs you mention, and then make sure the advisor(s) of those labs will be taking on new students in the following year. I have some tips on how to approach doing that, since I did a ton of that during my program search and would be more than happy to provide you with some tips.
  3. Okay as someone who struggled with getting the ball rolling during the first year of my master's, I completely understand how you are feeling right now. I actually took 3 years to get my master's which wasn't what I planned, but I think it allowed me to put together a really good thesis and figure out exactly what type of research I wanted to pursue during my doctorate. So I just want to say that there is no shame in taking a little longer than planned. It sucks but it happens and the extra year's time shouldn't hurt your future prospects. As for your funding for a third year, maybe you should ask what would be available to you? Then you can start planning on whether you should try to really crank things out this second year or not. Because if you aren't funded in your third year you should try as hard as possible to finish in a timely fashion. I was lucky to have funding my 3rd year but I probably would have gotten my butt into gear if I knew my funding was running out. If you do find out your funding is ending after your second year it could be the impetus to get the ball rolling. As for finishing up during this next year - it does depend on what you have left. Do you have the entirety of your thesis to finish including data collection, and writing, along with classes? If so you might be pushing it. But could you maybe try to graduate at the end of next summer maybe, rather than next May since that may give you enough time? I know that's something students at my school do but I don't know how common it is elsewhere. If you have little to no classes left you might be able to finish within the next year if you have to do a thesis. Honestly try to take as minimally involved and as few courses as possible to leave time for your research and thesis. Of course this is assuming you are doing a thesis - if you only have courses then surely you can finish within a year to year and a half right? So my response to this part of your post is coming from someone who gets nothing out of extracurriculars - is there any way you can pass on your role to someone else or minimize the time and effort you have to put into your role? I understand you like it but it does sound like it eats up your time and energy and that will make it difficult to for you to keep moving forward on the other responsibilities for your masters. I would suggest minimizing the actual time you have to put into this group and seeing if other officers for the group can pick up some of your slack. Also just ignore what the past president said - as long as you aren't seeing your boyfriend every weekend, and all weekend, I'm sure you are managing your time well enough that you have time for visits along with your other responsibilities. So for your last 3 questions in this part I would suggest quitting the student group or at the very least minimizing the time you put in like I say above. Don't quit grad school! You've already invested a year and it sounds like you might actually be in the mindset to get moving ahead. Also have a conversation with your advisor to understand the timeline you would need to meet to graduate by next May and ask if there is anyway to graduate at the end of the summer. If you are working through this summer on stuff - crank stuff out! At least for me I got tons done during the summers since I had no courses to worry about! So I'm really not sure what to say about the long-distance part since that is not something I have any personal experience with but I suggest having a frank conversation with him to figure out what each of you all want to happen in the future. Tell him your concerns of having another 2 years of long distance and see what he says. And like I've said a couple times, just figure out if you will truly need another 2 years or not. Good luck! I'm sure you'll figure it out!
  4. FishNerd


    I don't usually hear of people having graduate degrees before going into programs such as MBA or Law. My best friend just graduated from law school and I'm pretty sure few to no people in her program had anything but undergraduate degrees before they started.
  5. FishNerd

    Denver, CO

    So for those of you on this thread that have found apartments in Denver, how far ahead did you start looking for one before your desired move in time? I'm planning to move in August, but am willing to pay for part or all of July if I can secure something I really like. I don't currently live anywhere near close to Denver and I'm trying to figure out when I should plan my trip to come look at apartments since I don't want to sign a lease without seeing the place in person. When I've looked on websites like craigslist, zillow and trulia a lot of the postings are for places that are opening up very soon (though some say they are available later in the summer), so I'm having a hard time figuring out the best time to try to plan a trip out to Denver to apartment hunt.
  6. FishNerd

    PhD in Cancer Biology

    Hello and welcome to the forum! So first I would suggest maybe posting specifically in the Biology forum since people on that forum may be able to help more specifically with your questions related to biology and be able to know more about the programs you are interested in (there is even a thread pinned to the top where you can ask questions about the PhD application process), but posting here is a great starting point! It sounds like you have a lot of experience and a lot to put on your application, but I am definitely not as familiar to those applying to more human medicine-oriented biology PhD programs, so I can't speak to how competitive you would be for those programs. I do have a suggestion about the GRE Biology subject test though. I would maybe look at the admission requirements for the programs you are interested in to see if it is required or recommended. If it is required or recommended it seems that you would need to take it, but if not you could get away without taking it most likely. However, if it is common for applicants to have taken it for the programs you want to apply to (even if it isn't required or recommended) you might consider taking it. You could always email someone involved with admissions at the programs you're interested in to see if most applicants have taken it or not, to judge whether it might be something that should be part of your application.
  7. FishNerd

    Apartment Searching Sites

    @samman1994 I've personally not seen a lot of room listings on Zillow at least in the location I've been looking, so maybe make sure those aren't just really good deals? That's not to say the location you are looking in couldn't have room listings on Zillow those but that hasn't been my experience with Zillow when I've used it for a couple different locations. They could also maybe be scams though I don't see scams as much on Zillow as I do on Craigslist. One thing you could try on Zillow is to use their filters. You could filter Zillow to specifically only show 1 bedroom apartments since it sounds like that's what you're looking for and that could maybe remove those that are room listings.
  8. FishNerd

    I've finally committed...now what?

    Furthering that this is a great think to do before starting a program in the fall! I'm definitely doing this myself. When I was good about staying on top of eating well and exercising during my masters, I was at my peak productivity. So I'm going to try and make and keep healthy habits all summer so hopefully they will stick and I don't fall back into my lazy ways when I move later this summer. As @rising_star suggests slow cooker recipes can be great for grad school. In general if you can find recipes that you can easily make enough of to have leftovers, I find that these really get you through the weeks where you're really busy since you know you have something you can just heat up and eat when you get home and, personally, that keeps me from just getting take-out somewhere. I especially love one-pot recipes so there is as little clean-up as possible. I will also sometimes make meals in bulk that can be frozen and heat up well (I've done breakfast burritos, chili, and more). With these its good to date when you've made them so you don't let them sit in your freezer for too long. For exercise, I would recommend experimenting with different types of exercise and different times of day you work out to see what makes you happy and to figure out the time and type of exercise you think will make you stick to it the best. Once you've figured out a time of day and exercise type(s) you really like I recommend setting a schedule and sticking to it. At least for me this is crucial because I can be really lazy and will never actually exercise unless I have a schedule. But when I have a schedule it becomes part of my day and I feel guilty if I missed my scheduled work out (and will typically make time for that work out elsewhere to make up for the missed one). I also recommend to those that are not morning people (like myself) to at least give a couple morning workouts a go to see how you feel about them. I actually have come to love working out in the morning because it starts my day off with something productive for myself and puts me in a great productive head-space for the rest of the day!
  9. FishNerd

    Ask questions about the PhD application process!

    I agree with everyone else who says I don't think it belongs in your application. I also agree with @BabyScientist that if it comes up naturally during the interview or visitation process I think it is perfectly acceptable to mention it then. I say this because this is exactly what I did during my application process with my partner this year. I never mentioned that I was jointly applying with my partner in any of the application stages but if it came up naturally during an interview or a school visit I would mention it then. I did this because I didn't want to be taken any less seriously and I really was most interested in the science I would potentially be doing with that advisor. I did find though when it came up during an interview or visit it was received well and I don't think I was treated any differently afterwards, at least in my experience thankfully. I will say though only bring up that this part of your application process if it comes up naturally and you are the one to mention it. I don't think interviewers have the right to ask what your relationship status is because if they maybe didn't choose you because of the relationship component of the application, you would have grounds for a pursuing action of being discriminated against because of your relationship circumstances. So only bring it up if you are the one initiating that conversation and want to be clear that one of the other reasons you are very interested in a program is the proximity it would put you to your partner.
  10. FishNerd

    "Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition

    I'm glad I was able to help and that you are excited about everything coming up for you! No problem about speaking frankly about receiving some financial help from my parents. I think if they are willing and it is financially feasible for them and they aren't paying all of your expenses, then you can think of your masters as a route to becoming truly financially independent from them - this is how I approached it. My parents helped with stuff like car insurance, cell phone, and health expenses but otherwise I covered all of my other expenses (rent, bills, groceries, car maintenance, etc.) and now that I will be moving onto my PhD I will be covering all of my expenses so I'm glad I was kind of able to be weaned off of their help during my masters. It means I'm not carrying forward debt from my masters and it meant that I could live semi-comfortably on the piddly stipend I got during my masters. I really appreciate it and they're happy they were able to help me meet my goals. It sounds like your parents feel the same and I'm glad you feel comfortable receiving some help from them because I truly don't think it is anything to be ashamed of.
  11. Hey guys I just wanted to say thank you again for all the tips and give an update. I'm not done yet with my written thesis but I did just successfully defend it with my committee and got their comments back on it. They provided really good feedback that I think is really gonna help improve the final product. Apparently one of my committee members who rarely hands out compliments on peoples writing told my advisor that he was impressed by it, so I guess I did something right. I'm going to take their edits and start working on them now before it gets submitted to the graduate school, but also while I'm revising still I will keep all of your all's wonderful advice in mind as well!
  12. I just wanted to update and say that everyone's tips really helped me in pulling together a really good, solid seminar this past week! Everyone who I've talked to complimented my presentation so I guess it went pretty well. I think the only thing I could have done better was to have maybe have had one more day of practice, but unfortunately less than 48 hours before my presentation my PowerPoint turned all my pictures into red X-es so that unforeseen mishap took away a few hours I had been planning on practicing during (and I had some personal stuff come up that previous week that made me less productive than planned and meant that I was doing final practice runs later than I had planned on). I think the tips on focusing on practicing and fine-tuning the rough areas/slides were the most helpful because that meant that I definitely felt fairly comfortable on those and it meant that I wasn't practicing the whole presentation over and over and over. I should also say that I successfully defended my masters thesis with my committee on Friday! Now I just have to modify my seminar into an ~25 min presentation that we need to give in front of the people who helped fund and provide permits for the project for this upcoming week. Hooray!
  13. FishNerd

    Gender Discrimination

    So I think @TakeruK covered a lot of what I was going to contribute (their point about microaggressions really hit home for me as a woman in STEM) but I also wanted to say that these statements above don't really match up with what I and other women in STEM have experienced, especially the latter statement about sexist behavior being constrained to the older generations. I actually experienced behavior by male graduate students that are approximately my age (mid 20s-ish) during one of my prospective school visits that frankly can be considered sexual harassment, and unfortunately this experience made my school choice for me. If I experienced the type of behavior I did during a short visit, that made me highly concerned on the type of environment I would be in for my time as a doctoral student. I was so surprised and disappointed by this because luckily in biology I don't experience a ton of sexism and never before from peers my own age. The experience left me drained and feeling like I was treated as so much less than a colleague. It was unprofessional and extremely insulting to me as a highly qualified prospective student. Before this experience I was always aware of possible sexism from the older men in my field, but now I realize that it unfortunately is still found in younger men. And I also realize how being treated as less than a colleague can make you feel worthless and can make you feel like the science that you do doesn't matter one bit. Also I would like to add that even if there isn't "active discrimination" occurring, the passive and unconscious discrimination that women often experience can itself make you question whether or not you belong in the field or make you feel very frustrated that others still see you and your work differently because you are a woman. One example I heard from a colleague was that after her presentation a male professor came up to her and complimented her on the fact that she didn't do several things he was on the lookout for (such as not using the word "like" too much). While she wasn't completely sure that this was said because she was a woman, it did make her feel that the only reason he felt he had a right to say this was because she was a woman and the presentation behaviors he was on the lookout for were generally associated with feminine mannerisms. This, I think, relates back to the statement you previously made that "masculine qualities" are preferred in STEM. So just because a woman presents in a fashion that may have some uniquely feminine mannerisms/speech patterns, that makes her presentation less than (at least in this example)? That is sexist - even if it isn't "active discrimination."
  14. FishNerd

    "Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition

    @cinderellasyndrome I have to agree with @SomeoneThrewMyShoe that from the outside you really seem excited about School B and I think being excited can go a long way. It really sounds like you want to branch out away from your alma mater and experience something new (new area, new colleagues, etc) at School A. That could be a really good thing for you because living in a new area can really help you grow as a person and help you figure out that you may want different things out of life than if you hadn't branched out and gone to that new place. Also if you plan on staying in academia you usually have to be willing to make some sort of move to find a good PhD program or to find an academic position eventually. I've also heard that having diversity on where you have gotten your different degrees can look really good on future academic job applications (I guess because it shows you have a broader network of colleagues and you haven't exclusively been educated by the same group of people?). Honestly it sounds like your biggest hang up is the money difference and I don't think you should let that hold you back from choosing School B if that is where you prefer to go. You could get out small loans like @SomeoneThrewMyShoe suggested or have your parents help you since that seems to be on the table for you. I know you say you are reluctant to have your parents help, but maybe have a frank conversation about this and see how much of a burden it would be on them to help somewhat? If they are more than willing to help and it is financially feasible to do so I don't think you should discount their help. I personally received some financial help from my parents during my masters for which I am eternally grateful since it did allow me to attend the school I really wanted to attend. I am so glad they did help me because otherwise I would have had to take out some loans to help with cost of living so I am very thankful they could help me and were more than willing to do so. Edit: Also if the cost difference between School A and School B is because you would be living at home for School A and not paying rent or groceries I think you should maybe consider that if your parents are willing to keep helping you out with those things at home or away (since you say they could help you with some costs of living at School B ) then I really don't think you should overlook the help they have offered you if you go to School B. They would be helping with your costs of living at School A anyway and they seem to maybe want to keep helping you at School B. However, if this is a complete misinterpretation of your situation then just ignore this lol
  15. FishNerd


    So most schools have a minimum GPA you are required to be admitted so as long as your GPA doesn't fall below that (which is usually a 3.0) I highly doubt they would rescind your offer, and frankly even if you did fall below that minimum I don't think many schools would rescind their offer. My advice would be to look up the admissions requirements for your school/program and as long as your GPA is going to stay above or very near that minimum I think you will be fine.

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