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About Bernt

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    Synthetic Biology
  • Application Season
    2020 Fall
  • Program

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  1. Posting this on behalf of a friend in my program; if you're interested in applying to MIT BE definitely check it out! "Considering applying to MIT's Biological Engineering PhD program or even just considering a PhD in BE / BIOE? Join the MIT Biological Engineering Application Assistance Program on Thursday, Oct. 21st, from 11 AM – 12:30 PM EST to hear from current students about the program and get your questions answered! The webinar is anonymous and is open to all, even those who may not need one-on-one mentorship through the BEAAP program. Please register at https://mit.zoom.us/webinar
  2. Whoops, made a small mistake - my GRFP acceptance was sent out on March 30th 11PM, a follow-up email was sent on April 21st to give more information post acceptance.
  3. I was notified April 21st at 8AM. Last cycle's GRFP thread included an acceptance timeline for past cycles, which should give you an idea of when the acceptances typically go out.
  4. Not everyone who is invited posts on GradCafe, so don't take the number of posts to be indicative of number of invites. Last year only a few people posted their interviews/acceptances, but our cohort size is ~25 with ~40 interviewed. It is possible that some invites will be sent out later, but it's unlikely given the info I got from other people in my department and trends of past years. Other MIT BE PhD students are letting their mentees know they likely aren't getting interview invites/accepted if they haven't received an invite already.
  5. I asked around the MIT BE department. Interview weekend planning in the department is starting today/next week. Most interview invites have/will be sent out by the end of this week. Last year I got my invitation at 9PM on a Friday, so there still may be more sent out today/tomorrow. It's unlikely that there will be any more sent out after this week.
  6. I applied and was accepted to BU last year and they sent out acceptances in waves. Acceptances were sent out every Thursday for 4ish weeks (iirc). There's also no correlation between their "fellowship" PhD offers and time at which the offer letter is sent out. It may be different this year, but that's how it worked last year!
  7. I received GRFP last year. For the references section, I used size 10 Times New Roman Font and truncated citations (First Author et al. (YEAR) Journal). I put a space between each citation, as opposed to one on each line. Not sure if the rules changed this year, but I had no issues with this format last year.
  8. It's common for students to apply to 8+ schools. 5 is not too many, and 3 is too few in my opinion. Recommenders probably won't write a unique letter for each program, they'll just make slight changes to customize it. If you're worried about applying to too many programs and its burden on your LOR writers, ask them if 5 is too many.
  9. I applied to two programs at the same school (microbiology and BE) and got into both. Applying to multiple programs at the same school can work, but you need to have a "good" reason to do so. Admissions committees can tell when you're applying to multiple programs just because you want to get into the school (by whatever means necessary). This will reflect badly on you, indicate you aren't really interested in each program, and decrease your chances of admission. You need to show clear interest in each individual program. You also need to prepare to answer the question: "why are you appl
  10. I would choose a professor you felt was a good fit. You'll be successful and do good research in either lab, what really matters is: will you be happy? A Nature article isn't worth being yelled at. micromanaged, and stressed for 4-6 years. That will only break you down and sour your experiences with research. A great PI who respects and supports you will make any paper, big or small, feel important, and will facilitate a healthy research environment. You'll be happier and less stressed, which is more important than fancy publications, in my opinion.
  11. Yes, with no research experience you likely cannot get into any top 30 PhD programs. Applicants with stellar GPAs (3.9+), fantastic research experience (2+ years), and great LORs get rejected from these programs. They're extremely competitive. Personally, as a US student, I got 3 years of undergraduate research experience by doing research in multiple professor's lab. I wouldn't count course-based lab work as research unless you did a project (ie, a senior capstone project). Some people do research both in undergrad and post-bacc, or just post-bacc. It's not uncommon for applicants to tak
  12. For STEM fields, undergraduate research experience (or equivalent industry experience) is effectively a requirement to get into PhD programs. Most successful applicants have at least 1 year of research experience (minimum, at top ranked schools applicants typically have 2+ years of research experience). Graduate schools want to see you have experience doing research, as the majority of your PhD will be spent doing research. It will be difficult to get into decent, let alone top ranked CS PhD programs in the US with no research experience. Honestly, I would recommend taking 1-2 years to g
  13. As long as the typos weren't egregious I think you're fine. You will be judged almost solely (99.9%) on your application content, not the emails you send to admissions.
  14. If you have formally accepted and deferred an offer, that is considered a commitment from you to attend that program. While technically yes, you can apply to other programs (unless your program says explicitly otherwise, which some do, check the conditions of your deferral), it is generally frowned upon to do so. Academia is a surprisingly small world. If a professor from your original program happens to chat with a professor from a program you're applying to, you could end up in a sticky situation and jeopardize your admissions at both institutions. You also risk your reputation in your acade
  15. The anticipated impacts of COVID-19 on graduate admissions is negative. This is due to three primary factors: 1. Increased number of applicants. Historically, more people apply to higher education (undergraduate, Masters, and PhD) during times of economic turmoil. This was seen during the last US recession. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, applications to graduate programs increased (sources: Census Data, NYT, MSN). This is likely due to the job market tanking; people lose their jobs and go back to school for the resume boost and financial security associated with a funded PhD. 2.
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