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About Bernt

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    Synthetic Biology
  • Application Season
    2020 Fall
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  1. In my experience, applying to 2 programs at the same university is fine. I applied to two PhD programs at the same school, and was accepted to both. As long as you can justify your choice to apply to both programs, and show clear interest in each program individually/separately, you should be fine.
  2. I recently applied to top 10 BME programs, so I have some experience with this! Take my advice with a grain of salt though. If you have any questions feel free to respond/DM me. Because of your GPA, I would recommend looking at schools lower ranked than the top 10 programs. Top BME programs are extremely competitive, having hundreds of applicants with strong profiles. If you look at the successful application profiles for the BE programs at MIT, Stanford, BU, etc., their GPAs are typically above 3.75 and they have extensive research experience. You can see some of these profiles on the BME threads or results pages. This doesn't mean you shouldn't apply to top 10 programs - it's good to have reach schools, but given your profile you should look more at schools below the top 20-30. If you're 100% dead-set on top 10 schools, you need to boost your profile through additional research (during undergrad and after graduation, such as a research assistant position in a well-known lab) or a MS with a high GPA. When you're deciding what schools to apply to, your main focus should be research fit. Research fit/environment is more important than rank IMHO. There should be 2-3+ professors that do research you're interested in. I would recommend looking at the school's professor's websites (many are organized by broad research areas). You can also look at the author lists of relevant papers, as they will list the universities the authors work(ed) at. Other factors you should consider beyond research, location, and rank are diversity, outreach/leadership opportunities, size of the program/school, etc..
  3. From personal experience, I received external funding (NSF GRFP) and was offered admission to a program who had otherwise not accepted me. A lot of schools heavily promote external funding (and sometimes offer "bonus" funding as a reward for getting external fellowships), as it decreases the amount of money they have to pay you. It can also help you get into a lab of interest more easily, as a student who is partially/fully funded requires less grant money. This may not be universal, but that's what I've experienced.
  4. Bernt

    NSF GRFP 2019-2020

    I'm also undergraduate bioengineering, but I received 3 reviews. E/E, E/VG, E/E.
  5. Bernt

    MIT 2020

    I didn't see an existing MIT 2020 thread so I figured I'd start my own! I'm an incoming biological engineering student. Anyone wanna connect/chat/freak out about COVID-19 together before the fall semester (hopefully) starts? We can chat here, exchange contact info, and/or make a whatsapp group chat if people are interested!
  6. Bernt

    NSF GRFP 2019-2020

    Has anyone who received the GRFP award received additional information? The original email said information regarding how to accept/decline the award would be sent out before April 21st, which is in 2 days. I haven't received any additional emails/info, so I just want to make sure I'm not the only one.
  7. I second what 2020bioE said. Some programs have very specific strengths, while others have a wide range of fields. I would consider schools like BU and MIT very broad-spectrum in that they have a lot of different research fields within their BE programs. In general though, the top ranked BE Ph.D. programs can be found on https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools. However, choosing a "best" program is pretty subjective. Factors like research areas, faculty, education, location, and stipend are all factors that can determine what school is "best" for you. Personally, I think the most important thing for choosing a Phd. program to apply to is finding a school with 2-5 research labs you would be interested in joining. Labs can be full, lack funding, or not be a good fit after rotating, so having multiple options is very important.
  8. UPenn is the evil villain of the BME Ph.D. application process. Of course, with it's sidekick in ghosting: Columbia. I have so much more respect for schools that send out rejections early. Being led on/ghosted is awful.
  9. I second the wishing I took a bit longer to decide which schools to apply to. I mostly applied to top programs, but in hindsight a lot of them weren't great fits (not a ton of labs in my field of interest). I also wish I applied to more schools. Even though I was a very competitive candidate (and got into my top choice of MIT BE), I didn't get a lot of interviews/offers, which was extremely anxiety inducing. I would have applied to a few more safety/backup schools, if only to have more options and save myself the anxiety. Overall, I genuinely think grad school induced anxiety aged me like 5 years. Refreshing the results page constantly for months, having a mini heart attack every time I got an email notification, prepping obsessively for interviews, all that gets to you. I'm just glad it's over and things worked out.
  10. I was recently accepted to MIT and have been looking for off-campus housing. MIT has an official off-campus housing website for students, staff, and alumni, which is where I started looking. I found a potential roommate/place very quickly on there (like, in my first few hours). They work for the university and their LinkedIn/Twitter seem legit. They currently live in the apartment, and have found another roommate, so there would be three of us total. Overall I think it's a great fit, but I want to be careful. I can't visit/check out the place in person because of COVID-19. The rent seems reasonable, but the security deposit is pretty low which has me worried. They seem very excited about me potentially moving in (and are considering talking to the landlord about getting my rent decreased for the months I won't be living there due to quarantine). What should I do to make sure the offer is authentic/not a scam?
  11. You should reach out to the program you were accepted to. My friends and I are in the same boat, and the responses we've gotten are: Pass/Fail or Credit/No Credit doesn't matter as long as you get your degree P/F or CR/NC is acceptable but prerequisite (ie, biochemistry for a bioengineering program) classes require a letter grade (or you have to retake the class in grad school) P/F or CR/NC is acceptable but they require your letter grade (prior to taking the pass/credit) to be above a certain threshold (ie, B- or above for one school) Programs are pretty understanding of the situation, so you should be fine. However, just to be safe/certain reach out to your program director and ask what they require. They'll be super understanding of your question.
  12. Bernt

    NSF GRFP 2019-2020

    Got mine at 11:22PM EST from the info@nsfgrfp.org email address.
  13. Bernt

    NSF GRFP 2019-2020

    I have never heard of programs/schools you didn't apply to offering you an acceptance after receiving GRFP. I imagine the top tier schools (MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, etc) already have such a large pool of applicants (many of whom probably were rejected but received GRFP) that they wouldn't extend offers to people who didn't apply. Smaller schools/programs may extend offers though (but I'm not sure). Don't beat yourself up for not applying to top tier schools! Applying to graduate school is a messy and confusing (and expensive oof) time. Even if you get GRFP it's not a guarantee you'll get in, they're uber competitive and you can apply to 20 and only get accepted to 1. I'm sure you'll find success wherever you go. Rank and name isn't everything, the labs and vibes at a school are just as (if not more) important!
  14. Bernt

    NSF GRFP 2019-2020

    There have been many instances of schools rejecting applicants and then changing their mind after the applicant gets GRFP. A professor at my school was originally rejected from Stanford, but Stanford changed its mind and accepted her once she got GRFP. Schools care a LOT about money. Having your tuition & stipend (mostly/completely) paid makes you look very nice to them. It can't hurt to reach out to programs that rejected you letting them know you got GRFP and asking if that may have any impact on their previously made decision.
  15. Congrats on getting into and choosing BU. I am finishing up my BME undergrad at BU right now and it's a fantastic school! Best of luck
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