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About vmax

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  1. I’m in the process of forming my committee, and I’m feeling more embarrassed than ever. Quick background: I’m a first-year PhD student in computational biology. My undergraduate research was focused on analyzing human genomics data. My current lab focuses on lipidomics in model organisms. Currently, I’m working on a short-term project to manage some existing data. This work will be finished in a few months and should be publishable, but it’s more incremental work. When talking to potential committee members, I know that I need to clearly express my long-term research goals. That’s what I’m struggling with and am embarrassed about. As an undergraduate, I was confident in my research interests as I felt well enough versed in my research area. Now that I’m in a slightly different research area, I’m less confident. I have broad views of my interests, but I’m really feeling a lack of background knowledge in my new field. I know that I need to translate my interests to knowledge gaps in my new field and make concrete plans to get where I want to go. I’m not there yet, which embarrasses me. How do I speak well of my research interests when I haven't made concrete plans? What professor is going to want to work with me if I don't have concrete plans? tl;dr What advice do you have for conveying your long-term research interests when you’re in a new field, and you haven’t fully made broad goals into concrete plans?
  2. My area of study is bioinformatics, but I think my question is broadly applicable. I noted that some grad programs have gone GRE-optional, e.g. Harvard BIG, UCSF BI, and UMich CCMB. Some programs like UPenn BGS seem to have gone test blind. Are universities that follow this path just trying to get a wider applicant pool? If so, what's driving this? Do they just want their program to appear more competitive, or are they trying to get a more diverse pool of admitted students? How do test optional programs view students who don't submit GRE scores? It seems odd to me that a program like Harvard BIG makes the GRE optional but strongly recommends that you submit scores. I'd be interested to see what proportion of admitted students didn't submit GRE scores. When I applied to undergrad programs, I applied to three programs that didn't require SAT/ACT scores and was admitted to all without sending in test scores. I'm wondering how much of a gamble not sending in GRE scores to grad programs would be.
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