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About Marius

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  • Birthday June 28

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    Cell Biology

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  1. Well our lab tech was already working in both our lab, and another (where they will be moving full time). So the PI of that lab knows the situation and said she would help out. I think with her go-ahead I'll get in touch with the DGS again explaining whats going on and stating that I'm set on moving. Previously I hadn't really felt comfortable airing my concerns about this PI because I didn't think it was my place as a grad student to be critical. Now I don't really care since I feel my mind is made up anyway. The way I see it, its between me and the PI anyway.
  2. I've approached the director twice. Problem is, he really wants me to stay in this lab. His attitude has really been "stay the course" whenever I've voiced my concerns. I'm feeling like the best course of action right now is to approach faculty who I'd want to work with, see if anyone is willing to take me on, and then go to the director and state that my intention is definitely to move labs.
  3. Thanks guys! I really appreciate the responses. I definitely have been turning this over in my mind a lot recently. On the one hand, I feel that I would be better off somewhere else, but on the other I feel like there will be a stigma that I didn't "tough it out" or "make things work" in my current lab. I've gotten input from people who know and have worked with this PI and they've all raised similar concerns about him that I have had. If I did decide on switching labs, how would I go about this? I don't really want to declare that I'm leaving now without another spot lined up, but then I'm not sure how to approach another faculty member about joining their lab if I'm currently working here.
  4. The first thing I want to do is explain how I ended up with this guy, because given the red flags I often wonder to myself "Why did I choose to work here?". Ok, so for starters I'm in a cell biology PhD program with a focus on neuroscience, and I finished my first year lab rotations. Now, the one guy I liked working with the most couldn't take on anymore students, and the one person I did rotate with who had funding I am working with now. So funding played a part, but at the time of the rotation, when I was just learning some techniques used in lab, things seemed alright. That isn't to say I had some concerns. It took me a while before I could start coming home at a normal hour rather than staying in lab until 9:00 or 10:00 (or sometimes much later) with the PI every night. The lab didn't seem to have direction and I wasn't exactly sure what this guy was even doing as far as his research aims. I chalked it up to my own inexperience or failure to grasp the work, and figured we'd sit down and talk about something concrete I could get started on. That happened over the summer. At the time, everything seemed to be going normally. We talked about a project I could start. Although it mainly involved a new technique the PI wanted to try and not a rationale for why we would use it, I figured I could apply it to some things I was interested in. We had some preliminary discussions and he seemed supportive of my ideas. Now, just for some background, my PI will talk you up like there's no tomorrow. After getting out of our early meetings he practically had me convinced we would be curing cancer in the next five years. The guy is a great talker and he will make it seem like he can do anything. Unfortunately, this doesn't really translate into actual work. He's a new PI, but he has been at our university for three, going on four years now. He's up for tenure in less than two years. He has gotten no outside funding, and hasn't published anything in the time he's been here. He hasn't published at all in almost five years, that includes things like co-authorships from his previous work. So things have been really hectic, and he's gotten increasingly stressed out. But since he can't settle on any specific questions to ask in his research the lab is basically non-productive. We work every day, but the data we collect is largely for no purpose in mind. So, coming into this I thought I could get my own niche, ground the PI a bit, and get a project going, but such is not the case. The lab uses some very specialized techniques that I wanted to learn to expand my abilities as a grad student, but my PI is very hostile towards applying these methods towards anything outside his "comfort zone" which seems to be about the size of a broom closet, and doesn't involve anything I'm particularly interested in. My hope was that I could apply this to some other areas of interest, and initially my PI seemed supportive, now hes openly condescending if he even sees me reading a paper related to something that he isn't interested in. The guy also doesn't create the best work environment. Our only lab tech is leaving, and the only other grad student in the lab is leaving with his masters degree in two or three months. After they leave it will be me, the PI, and a post-doc he brought in last year. The post-doc is very supportive and a very nice guy, but at the end of the day he's not my adviser, and I can't just help him do his work. Oh, and he refuses to bring in undergrads since he thinks they "can't do the work properly" and he has intimidated or yelled several of them out of the lab previously. tl;dr I found out my PI is a non-productive ass hole after I made the mistake of believing a lot of the bs he talks up. Pretty naive but sometimes you learn the hard way. Basically, I need to know what to do in this situation: is leaving a lab because of PI problems rare? Is it looked down on? Will faculty think its my fault? How do I deal with my old PI and how do I tell him I want to leave?
  5. Some schools are really terrible at getting back to students. Sometimes it means they haven't made a decision yet. Other times a program won't send out their final round of rejections until they have everything squared away and have filled all their spots. And then sometimes they're just bad at getting back to you. I applied to TJU for their neuroscience program, was told I'd have an answer in two to three weeks (this was in February) and finally got a rejection letter in the mail in May.
  6. Ha! Wait till you have to choose a mentor after lab rotations Don't worry though, really. Everyone understands that you can only choose one school and one lab. It's the nature of these kinds of programs and nobody will hold it against you.
  7. It might not be required for everyone, but it is required for my program. I did have a discussion with the professor; he said as long as I can get at least Bs from here on out I will be fine. I'm just going to be studying a lot to try and get out of this hole.
  8. I am going to meet him during office hours. However, it is a required course.
  9. Now I've gotten an email from the professor saying that he recommends anyone who was 10% or more below the class average should at least "consider the option of withdrawing from the class". I was exactly 10% below the class average. I was thinking, hey lets do this, but now I'm worried. It seems as though the professor doesn't think, at least historically, that students who didn't do well on the first exam will be able to recover on the later exams. Totally freaked out now.
  10. I've always thought I was more comfortable with biology conceptually. I've never been good at math... although its interesting that you point out because I've consistently scored very well on the more quantitative tests I've had in my field that dealt with things like membrane potentials, ion flux, and electrical activity. I'm currently in a lab doing electrophysiology and loving every minute of it. That being said, I still need to pass this freaking biochem class somehow.
  11. I have two lecture classes that give exams and I just got my first round of exam scores back. My "core" course for the program I'm doing very well in. In fact, I think I've gotten the highest score among the students in my program taking this class. The other, what was supposed to be a "basic introduction" to biochemistry is turning out to be a nightmare. Now I've had biology and organic chemistry before, and this is supposed to be a combined undergrad/grad crash course in biochem, but its nothing like I've encountered. At my undergrad institution our professors generally stressed concepts and our understanding of what different pathways were for and how they could interact etc. etc. This class the prof essentially has us memorizing the structures of each amino acid, carbohydrate, lipid, nucleotide, basically any molecule he thinks is important, asking us to draw it upside down and backwards on our exams. Needless to say, I totally bombed the first exam. It's the first time I've ever scored significantly below average on an exam. I have three more to get my average up, and I'm really starting to stress out because I need at least a B. I got tutoring help, I'm making my study time more structured, and I've got help from an older grad student who took the class already and knows how this guy tests. My question is, given that I'm doing really well in my other class, will it look really bad if I don't make a B in this one? I really don't want that to happen, and I'm going to try my hardest that it doesn't, but does anyone have experience in having to repeat or drop a course and retake it, and what consequences of that were long term? Also, if anyone has any crazy come-from-behind stories to share of how you dragged your grade up to pass a class, and have any advice for me, I'd love to hear it
  12. I think mine was ~500 words. The idea is to get your thoughts across as concisely as possible. You want to relay all the important information you need to: background, experience, goals, etc. and at the same time not get too wordy. Those reading your SOP are going to be swayed by content, not overly elaborate wording or story telling. Although of course it will still need to be well written. Make sure everything is grammatically sound. Read it out loud, make sure everything sounds right. If you're using the same basic template for multiple SOPs make sure you change all the times you use the institution names from the previous. I talked to somebody who forgot to do this and needless to say it was very embarrassing for them when brought up during the interview!
  13. I was checking my spam folder for a while there...
  14. Ultimately I went with Rutgers. The program was better overall and closer to my own research interests. I think I would have been happy at Drexel, but the faculty at Rutgers was just as friendly and ultimately it was a better fit given my interests. I would have had to compromise a little with Drexel on that point. I think I could have lived with it but, given the choice, why compromise right? I emailed everyone back at Drexel saying I really enjoyed getting to talk with them and will be on the lookout for any work they publish in the future since it all seemed very interesting.
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