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Geococcyx

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Geococcyx last won the day on June 29

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About Geococcyx

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  • Location
    Research Triangle
  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    Stat & Biostat Ph.D.'s

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  1. I'm not very knowledgeable about master's admissions, but I don't think there's really any reason to worry here. You have a 4.0 as a math major, and you took pretty much every class (besides measure theory) that people would be looking for in a PhD applicant(!), plus the GRE scores to go along with it. I'm aware that school "prestige" means rather more than I feel it should in applications (at least for PhD's), but even so, you have the profile of a student who was so good at a less prestigious school that you'd be considered anyways. In any case, master's programs mostly care about ability to do the classes, and you've clearly demonstrated an ability to complete difficult math-based classes well. EDIT: This is to say, I think you can apply pretty much anywhere you want.
  2. I'm not great at evaluating international students' profiles, so don't put too much weight on my thoughts -- just a word of caution. I'd be inclined to take your professor's thoughts as they are; Ohio State and Florida seem like reasonable places for you. The B+ in Calc III shouldn't mean much given the time and classes you've had since then, and the B+ in probability shouldn't mean too much either; those aren't even bad grades, really. I do get the sense that you aren't really as concerned as you say, though, since you largely are considering schools higher-ranked than Ohio State and Florida. Looking at some schools above that level is a good idea, of course, but I'm not quite sure how good your chances of getting into Columbia Stat or Brown Applied Math would be; again, I'm not good at evaluating international students' profiles, so that is a bit of a shot in the dark for me. I'd tell you to stay more in that range of Penn State through Ohio State and Florida, with maybe a couple above it (like NC State and Duke, as you have), plus a bit more coverage below Ohio State and Florida for additional choice later-on. Maybe your research experience would bump you beyond what I'm saying, but I just don't really know how to judge that very well. I'm not an ecologist or anything resembling it, so my area knowledge of it is completely lacking. We did recently have a thread of schools that work on environmental statistics, which might be helpful -- schools that came up there were NC State, Ohio State, and Oregon State. Additionally, Cyberwulf at one time mentioned some biostatisticians who do environmental statistics, such as Roger Peng (Johns Hopkins Biostat), Francesca Dominici (Harvard Biostat), and Amy Herring (Duke Statistics). I think the University of Georgia has a good ecology school (one of the Odums worked there), but I don't know that their statistics department is very involved in that work; even so, you could look there. I think UNC is tied to the Odums as well, so you might look there as well (along with Florida, so Wikipedia informs me). Duke Statistics also used to have a professor who explicitly worked on statistics in ecology (Alan Gelfand), but it seems like he retired recently. Hopefully this helps, and if you'd like, it wouldn't be a bad idea to consult with your professor some more too to make sure of your choices (their time and willingness allowing).
  3. I second bayessays, I did fine in admissions even though I was taking real analysis at the time (and hence, most schools didn't have any idea whether I'd done well in it or not). If you want a PhD, then you should be able to start on it next year!
  4. I'm very much not the expert in how admissions for international students work, but I'll respond in the interest of giving you a timely(-ish) partial answer. Responses to your remarks/questions. 1. You didn't give us the grades for your classes, so how much that one lower-GPA semester would vary greatly depending on which math classes you took during it and what your grades were in them. That said, the one I was worrying about most was Real Analysis, and you have an A+ in that, so I doubt it'll be an issue unless you got a C+ in linear algebra that semester or something. Even then, your profile's pretty strong, one semester averaging a B+ probably shouldn't be something to really worry about. 2. I'll get to the school list below. Most stats classes aren't going to be a big help -- a grad level statistical inference class would probably help, if not that then an undergrad statistical inference class or the grad level stochastic processes class you mentioned. 3. Again, below. 4. I don't really see an issue with asking your Real Analysis professor. Presumably your other recommenders are your REU advisors or whatnot, that cohort of professors should be good. 5. I can't comment on those schools' research areas. OK, now your school list. I'm not much of an expert in Math PhD applications either, so there's a limited amount I can comment on that. That being said, your statistics list is really strong, and while you're a good enough applicant that you might get into some of those schools, I'm guessing you would want some safer choices in there too. Part of that is that my limited impression of Math PhD programs is that they're really hard to get into, and part of it is that if all of your safety schools are math programs then that doesn't seem optimal for you -- if you're not sure you want to do math and are looking at statistics as an option, it doesn't make a lot of sense to strictly aim for some of the most difficult statistics programs to get into. It's obviously fine if you would still probably prefer to do a Math PhD instead, but insofar as you want to explore statistics, it'll probably benefit you to apply to a few schools in the NC State/Texas A&M/UCLA range just for the ability to choose once you've visited them and make sure you have a non-math option.
  5. Well, this is probably a situation in which the Summer Institute for Biostatistics/Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics (the names are inconsistent), otherwise called SIBS, might be helpful going forward. That's a program funded by the NHLBI that teaches people the basics of biostatistics, and gives you connections to faculty at a generally pretty good biostatistics program. That said, if you are applying to PhD programs this upcoming school year, you clearly can't apply to SIBS since it started about 3 weeks ago, and ends about 2 weeks from now. A good place to start might just be to go to a biostatistics PhD program website -- sometimes they provide some basic explanation of the subject, but they also list faculty from that school that work on that topic, which lets you go look at those faculty members' publications and read more about it yourself. Some examples of these lists of research topics are at Emory (https://sph.emory.edu/departments/bios/research/index.html) and UNC (https://sph.unc.edu/bios/bios-research/).
  6. As a heads-up, I have maybe a fifth of the experience evaluating people's profiles as some of the other most likely posters on here, so don't take my word as gospel. Even so, I hope I'm not too far off. Overall, I'd say that you should be applying in roughly the range I did (as you can see in my signature) -- potentially better. I had a better GPA from a similarly good state school, and really high GRE scores that might have oversold my abilities. Even so, though, you clearly have a better math background -- when I was applying, I had taken 2 proofs-based math classes, and was currently taking real analysis. As it is, I would think you could take shots at most of the top 10 biostatistics schools (via USNews grad school rankings); the top 3 (Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Washington) are tough to crack, so those would be reaches, but places like UNC, Minnesota, UCLA, Wisconsin would probably be good options. Some of those might still be reaches, but I feel like if you apply to several of them, you'll stand a good chance of getting in at at least one of those 4-10 range schools. If you're still in school this upcoming fall, and are taking more real analysis/measure theory or a grad-level statistical inference class, then you'd be more likely to get into those top programs. If you're interested in both probability theory and mathematical biology, then you might also consider schools with combined statistics/biostatistics departments, like NC State and Illinois; these might fit your interest profile a little better than just a biostatistics department. You'd still probably want to choose a couple safety schools a little below where I'm talking about in the rankings -- my only particular note about this is that a lot of the biostatistics programs below the ones I listed are pretty small programs (Yale, Brown, Duke, Vanderbilt) that may not make for good safety schools just due to how few people they accept each year. That said, I've leaned pretty heavily towards biostatistics departments in this analysis, partially because your math background will probably be a little stronger in that application cohort. That doesn't mean you need to go to a biostatistics or combined statistics/biostatistics department to do biological applications. For instance, the Duke statistics department has several top faculty members who work on biological applications, Columbia statistics has several people who do neuroscience research (as I recall), and you can work with Michael Newton (an award-winning statistical geneticist) as either a Wisconsin statistics or biostatistics student (as far as I know, anyways). I hope this helps. If I've erred in evaluating you, I hope I've underestimated you -- clearly I did fine in applications with a limited theoretical math background, and I would hope non-major GPA and GRE scores wouldn't mean much.
  7. Can you give us an idea of roughly where your big state school is on the USNews undergrad rankings (for example, Clemson and Texas A&M are tied at 66th)? Admissions committees will take your record a bit differently depending on whether you go to, say, UCLA or Mississippi State. Regardless of your school's ranking, though, I don't think there's any reason you'd need to do a master's degree first. We can work on target grad schools once we know more about your undergrad school, but do you have any areas of research you're especially interested in? Are you trying to stay in mathematical biology, or do you have interests in social science or probability theory or time series too? Any sort of preferences geographically, or in the size or characteristics of the programs?
  8. Geococcyx

    Statistics PHD applicant help

    Maybe it's not a big deal, since Stat PhD didn't mention it, but could you potentially take Real Analysis in the fall instead of the spring? I'm not sure it would do much, but that way if programs were on the fence about you, they could ask you to send your fall grades and look for a high Real Analysis grade to convince them. That also works for programs with application deadlines in January or later (Texas A&M and UConn are two places that come to mind), plus Wisconsin asked everyone for their fall grades this last cycle from what we could tell.
  9. My background isn't as close to yours as bayessay's is, but maybe I can be of some assistance via my own stream of consciousness (which turned out to be super long, sorry about that). Keep in mind that I also have substantially less experience in this than bayessays and some other folks on the forums. My personal opinion is that you'll probably have an easier time strengthening your recommendations by choosing different recommenders rather than by getting a master's degree. Keep your strong letter from a research advisor, of course, but I feel like you have options to work with for the other two spots (or maybe 1 -- I don't know whether it's frowned upon to only have recommendations from professors once you've been out of school for a few years, although I personally doubt it would be a big deal). I don't think people would worry too much about your math ability given your A's in real analysis, but it's not like it would hurt you to have a letter from one of your real analysis professors saying that you did a really good job in their class, or perhaps from your measure theory professor detailing how you improved from C+ work to A/A- work over the course of the semester. At the same time, having a breadth of math background gives you the latitude to choose a professor from a less mathematical background than econ for a letter if you want. If you ended up taking a philosophy or literature class that you really enjoyed towards the end of your collegiate career, that professor might be a reasonable choice if you talked to them a lot and demonstrated creativity, analytical thinking, and good written or oral communication skills. Your computational linguistics class might provide an opportunity like that too; I'm woefully short on knowledge about that specific subject, but classes like generative syntax and similar linguistics courses make for great demonstrations of critical thinking, even if they don't seem super relevant. One of my recommendations came from a genetics professor whose class I took despite it counting towards no degree or graduation requirement precisely because we spent a lot of time thinking about comparisons of models, how to infer causality, and that sort of gedanken work; I'm sure the genetics background helped for biostatistics applications, but that surely wasn't the only useful information committees got from that letter. I'm personally a fan of taking a few completely out-of-degree classes on a lark during your college career, and I think those classes can be great opportunities for letters of recommendation. I find that taking classes in new subjects makes me more excited for that class, encourages me to develop more of a relationship with the professor through asking lots of questions, and will probably be in an area that many other applicants don't have experience in, which will help you stand out during the application process. If you did that in college, great! If not, the same thought process might apply to work -- maybe still have the Econ PhD write it, but you might point him to some experiences of good management, planning, and critical thinking on your part. If nothing else, that might convince a PhD program that you'll be more disciplined than some younger applicants, and in a PhD program that's not a bad impression to make at all. Ultimately, I think you're too hard on yourself -- my recommendations were a research mentor like you, plus two professors that I'd had all of 1 class with each. Those were small and talkative classes, of course, but coming from a large state school my baseline for a small and talkative class might still be rather larger and quieter than yours. Choose folks who can say fairly unique and good things about how ready you'll be for graduate school regardless of the subject area, and then balance that with a need to have some research and math background testimony in there. You almost assuredly don't need to go to a master's program just to achieve that.
  10. So far as I know, such statistics aren't collated in one central location, so you'll have to check each school. If they aren't posted on a school's website, then you can ask the director of graduate studies (or the director of the master's program, if they have one) and they can often provide some info to that effect.
  11. There have been a few people on the forums who did master's at NC State, but I don't know that any of us would have background on the environmental concentration. Obviously the folks at NC State would be your best contacts if you wanted to ask them about the basic details (they appear to not have a specific master's program director listed, so I guess the DGS, Wenbin Lu, would be the choice there?). She's probably quite busy, but Elizabeth Mannshardt might be somebody to ask if you're really interested in the program at NC State; she's an adjunct at NC State and is an administrator in the local EPA branch (and hence, probably works with some of the interning environmental stats students). Normally I wouldn't just pull someone's name out of thin air like this, but she was recently president of North Carolina's ASA chapter and has worked on early-career mentoring of statisticians, so she might be more receptive to outreach than the average person. I don't know much about other stat departments, but I think Ohio State's statistics department is also pretty environmentally-oriented. They've lost a few professors in that area (Kate Calder & Noel Cressie come to mind), so maybe less so now than in the past, but it might still be worth some interest.
  12. Just for clarity, the research would be more important if you wanted to continue on to a PhD in Biostatistics or a similar field. If you wanted a PhD, then I'd think twice about dropping your research, since even research experience in non-statistics fields can be helpful to PhD applications. For a terminal master's, though, you shouldn't worry about weakening a selling point of yours by quitting the research; I don't think most master's care very much about your research background, and even if they did, your GPA plus good performance in math classes and on the GRE should be more than enough.
  13. I'm not the expert, so look for future posts for more veteran forum members, but I can at least give a first pass. In a vacuum, yes, the other upper-division math courses are helpful. Getting high grades in proofs-based classes will be helpful to your profile. However, I also think the graduate math stat sequence would be helpful, particularly if it's taught out of Casella and Berger (or so my impression would be, from this forum). As for the other stat courses, if they're at the grad level then they might be helpful, but if they are undergrad then I don't know that they'd do much for you. If you are just trying to give yourself the strongest possible admissions profile for a Stat PhD, then I'd personally recommend taking the graduate math stat sequence plus an upper-division math course or two (there are some applications of algebra and geometry in statistics, for instance). This is with me not being sure what level the other stat classes are at, but I think this is probably the most reasonable option overall. If you have low grades in past proofs-based classes, then the importance of other upper-division math courses requiring proofs would probably increase.
  14. Plenty of people don't have super specific research ideas when going into a PhD. I had a few application areas of interest and a general desire to work on model selection that wasn't particularly fleshed-out, and got into plenty of PhD programs without even having done any methodological stat research. If you were going to go into epidemiology, for instance, you'd want a topic pretty well in-hand for PhD work, but you'd be fine in statistics or biostatistics going straight to a PhD without a clear topic in mind. Not that that is inherently the best option for you, of course, but a lack of granular research topics shouldn't be a reason to write off applying directly to stat or biostat PhD programs.
  15. I agree with Bayessays. I think I should add that one mistake people sometimes make in choosing PhD programs is choosing a bunch of prestigious private schools on name reputation, without giving proper attention to public programs that are often larger (meaning, relatively easier to get into) and potentially better. I know I made that mistake on a first pass, and was fortunate to learn otherwise here on gradcafe. Getting a PhD at NC State or Illinois (etc.) might not sound as prestigious to an uniformed stranger, but academics or smart industry people will know that those are strong programs. Just in case you haven't looked at it yet, the USNews grad school rankings in statistics are a good place to start, and since those are kinda confusing in format, feel free to contact me with questions via DM. They aren't everything, though, so don't stop there!
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