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2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results


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I would like to remind everyone that you can filter through the Results tab at the top of this web page to view information like when interviews were released, the stats for users who were accepted into specific programs, etc. You can filter by school, program, year, etc. Several members of the Grad Cafe lurk in the forums and don't post in large threads like this, but will post in the Results section.

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Would anyone find it helpful to create a separate thread just for interviews? Looking back through previous years, I felt it would have been more helpful to have a thread dedicated to just interview n

After waiting and waiting, happy to say I got two acceptances today! Guess I'll be going to graduate school this year after all!

I've planned for alternate options. I have 3 separate contingency plans, lol. I applied to a PREP program, and I am working on my resume so I can get applications going for lab positions as soon as I

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How much of a role do publications play in neuroscience? Does not having a publication hurt, and conversely, how much does having a publication help? What fraction of applicants have publications at all? 

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Just now, mcfc2018 said:

How much of a role do publications play in neuroscience? Does not having a publication hurt, and conversely, how much does having a publication help? What fraction of applicants have publications at all? 

Most undergraduates do not have a publication when applying to programs, so I don't think it will hurt your application at all to not have one. If you do have publications, they can only help. Ultimately, a researcher needs to put out publications that show they can move a project from start to finish with results; and having one when applying to grad school will help demonstrate that capability.

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4 minutes ago, Monochrome Spring said:

 Most undergraduates do not have a publication when applying to programs, so I don't think it will hurt your application at all to not have one. If you do have publications, they can only help. Ultimately, a researcher needs to put out publications that show they can move a project from start to finish with results; and having one when applying to grad school will help demonstrate that capability.

Thanks! Do they care about the journal that it's published in? And does admissions actually read publications or is it more of a checkbox to see if it's present? Kinda curious how it works. 

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41 minutes ago, mcfc2018 said:

Thanks! Do they care about the journal that it's published in? And does admissions actually read publications or is it more of a checkbox to see if it's present? Kinda curious how it works. 

Any pub from a reputable (as in, non-predatory) peer-reviewed journal looks good, but a high impact, prestigious journal like Nature or Science might make the adcomms look at your application more closely.  Subfields also have their own high-impact, well-regarded journals.  If someone is really interested in the work you've done, then they might look at your actual publications and read them more closely, but overall the committee will just look at publications as a measure of your research accomplishments. 

During my interviews, I've had a couple PIs request to meet/interview with me because they read through one of my publications and wanted to discuss the work.

Having a publication or not won't make or break your application, and for undergrads, it's actually not as common as you may think for them to have publications--especially not first-author pubs.

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4 minutes ago, StemCellFan said:

Any pub from a reputable (as in, non-predatory) peer-reviewed journal looks good, but a high impact, prestigious journal like Nature or Science might make the adcomms look at your application more closely.  Subfields also have their own high-impact, well-regarded journals.  If someone is really interested in the work you've done, then they might look at your actual publications and read them more closely, but overall the committee will just look at publications as a measure of your research accomplishments. 

During my interviews, I've had a couple PIs request to meet with me because they read through one of my publications and had some questions about the work.

Having a publication or not won't make or break your application, and for undergrads, it's actually not common for them to have publications--especially not first-author pubs.

Cool thanks for responding. I feel like everybody has publications when you look at online forums haha. 

Side note, what's typically considered a good impact journal?

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9 minutes ago, mcfc2018 said:

Cool thanks for responding. I feel like everybody has publications when you look at online forums haha. 

Side note, what's typically considered a good impact journal?

No problem!  I was a couple years out from my undergrad before I got a middle author paper from my thesis work and another from my work as a technician.  And it's taken me almost 5 years post-undergrad to get to the point where I have a couple first publications coming out.

I think what's considered a good impact journal, outside of the prestigious ones, depends entirely on your field.  I work in blood research right now, and the top journals for us are Blood (Impact factor: ~15), ATVB (Impact factor: ~6), and Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostsis (Impact factor: ~5.5).  Journal of Clinical Investigation (IF: ~13) is also popular for us it seems.  This will differ for people in the Neuro field.  Journals that are associated with major conferences or societies generally have good impact factors and are well-regarded in those specific fields.  I don't want to put too much emphasis on impact factors since that also differs from field to field, but even journals with lower impact factors (i.e. 1 or 2) would still look good to an admissions committee, as long as the paper went through the whole stringent peer-reviewed process.

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2 hours ago, lmb123 said:

I've never heard of any schools that strictly reject based on numbers alone (like the automated kind I've heard about for med schools). I think you might as well apply!

I've been told by advisors who have been on admissions committees that schools like Harvard (including someone who was specifically in an adcom at Harvard) that can afford to be super picky have an administrative person do a first run through to remove anyone with lower GPAs and nothing else that stands out (ie a LOR from someone super notable, extreme circumstances explaining the GPA, a first author publication in Science, etc). Was also told by the program director herself that BU Neuro does this (probably less picky than Harvard). I suppose it's also program-dependent.

Can't confirm, just what I've been told.

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Undergrad Institution: University of Toronto
Major(s): Electrical and Computer Engineering
GPA in Major: 4.0 / 4.0
Overall GPA: 3.94 / 4.0
Position in Class: Not sure
Type of Student: International 

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 168
V: 159
W: 4.5


Research Experience: University of Toronto

I spent a summer working on coarse-grained reconfigurable array and co-authored a conference paper.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Dean's List

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: 1 internship at Marvell and 1 internship at a startup

Special Bonus Points: Not really


Applying to Where:

Stanford MS

UCBerkeley

Princeton 

CMU

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On 7/25/2018 at 7:32 PM, LiamG said:

Hey, So its my turn to apply this year and I suppose Im just wanting to get external input from the community. I had transferred from a small community college to a decent research university and have been doing wonderful I feel. However I want to make sure im level headed and not being too ambitious for what I have; Im hoping for a reality check in case im out of line…anyways here we go-

Undergrad Institution: Big Undergraduate Research University in Florida (Came from community College after two years)
Major(s): Cell & Molecular Biology
GPA in Major: 3.83
Overall GPA: 3.93
Position in Class: Top 7%

Type of Student: Domestic White

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 160
V: 156


Research Experience: 

Neuro Research (My primary lab)

-(1 Year Now, 2 years by Graduation: Started immediately after transfer to the university): Focus on neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimers/Parkinson’s) with a focus on mechanism & preventative drug design. One poster presentation – Started writing my undergraduate research thesis on this material. We are expecting to publish early spring and I have been invited to present at a conference early January.

(Something of significance I believe is that when I joined this lab I worked directly with the PI in creating and testing a new preliminary study of interest; Today I am now running it mostly independently except for when my PI is either needed for approval or intervention.)

Cancer Research (Side Lab)

- (Spring 2018 Only): Designed and tested preliminary rounds looking at the dietary effects on cancer cells. (This lab was real offered as a one semester experience for a select 30 students).
 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?)     

Honor/Academic Societies:

Phi Theta Kappa

Golden Key Society

Phi Kappa Phi

Chemistry Society

Office of Undergraduate Research

Universities Honor College

Awards (Really only one of significance):

Academia Excellence: Chemistry (Only one awarded per year)

Recognitions

Deans List every semester except last – got my first B


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...)

Tutored General Biology,  General Chemistry, and Calculus (Freshman & Sophmore year)

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)

-My current PI is relatively big in the alpha syn world and with a few large publications, however he has not had too many in the past 4 years do to some of the large projects he has taken on.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

-Ive taken plenty of great upper level courses (4000 Level); Immunology, developmental biology, Molec bio of cell/gene. Finished all with A's. Will be taking Biochem and Exp. Genetics this fall. 

-I have for sure two very good recommenders. My current PI, and a well-recognized immunologist from Duke Im close with.

-I will also certainly mention that as I have gone through my undergrad I have consistently worked a retail Job for 20hr/week. It was just something that has provided to be only a minor hinderence, but I believe I have still managed quite a bit of success.


Applying to Where :

(1) Duke – Stem Cell/Developmental Bio

(2) Wisconsin State - Stem Cell

(3) Weill Cornell - Developmental Bio

(4) University of Utah – Regenerative Medicine/Stem Cell

(5) Yale – Developmental Bio

Each school calls it something different, but the focus is on regenerative medicines

Many of these schools have great funding and collaborative opportunities of my interest. I plan to add/remove a couple of these but before that I think I may want some input.  Are some of these schools far too ambitious for myself though? I mean looking at everyone elses so far I don’t seem to compare too well. I know my letters and a fantastic SOP can do wonders but I suppose I would like anyone’s opinion. Do I need to dial down or am I competitive as a undergrad who will be graduating spring of 2019?

I was looking through the thread and saw you're looking at stem cell and developmental bio and had to put in a word for Cincinnati MDB (just started!) We have some pretty big names in the organoid/regeneration/stem cell field and have dedicated more into this area with a new center for organoid medicine and a pluripotent stem cell core. Also, a lot of the developmental bio people here are pretty well known and recognized as leaders in multiple subfields of the discipline. Also, being in the nation's 2nd ranked children's hospital is also pretty great (lots of discounts throughout the city at various places because you're a student AND a children's hospital employee). I'd highly suggest you look into it if you haven't already and would encourage you to message me if you have any questions!

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Hi all,

Just wondering what my chances are based off of my current stats.

Undergrad Institution 1: SUNY Broome
Major(s): Engineering Science
Overall GPA: 2.7
Position in Class: Unknown
Type of Student: Domestic White Male

Undergrad Institution 2: University at Buffalo, SUNY
Major(s): Biological Sciences
Minor(s): Statistics
GPA in Major: 3.2
Overall GPA: 3.25
Position in Class: Unknown

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
- Taking in a few weeks so I'll update this then.


Research Experience: 1 year of molecular biology research with a presentation at the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference in 2017. Almost 2 years of research experience at the University at Buffalo in a molecular genetics lab coupled with an Undergrad TA position for 1 year.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: SUNY Undergrad Research Conference, Ralph D. Hochstetter Scholarship (2017-2018)

Pertinent Activities or Jobs - Professional:

  •  SUNY Broome Mathematics Tutor
  • UB Work Study Student

Pertinent Activities or Jobs - Non-Professional:

  • Supervisor at Price Chopper (2014-2015)
  • Sales Specialist at Victoria's Secret (2015-2017)
  • Cashier at Wegmans (2018-current)

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: Both LGBT and economically disadvantaged independent student -> Not sure how much this matters but my PI told me I should find a way to bring it up.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Diagnosed with Tourette's Disorder and ADHD which somewhat explains my lower GPA but also kind of doesn't considering the tics aren't bad enough to effect my ability to do schoolwork or research. 

Applying to Where:
University at Buffalo - Biological Sciences PhD - Neuroscience

University at Buffalo  - PPBS - Neuroscience

SUNY Binghamton - Cell and molecular Biology - Genetics

UCLA - Cell and Molecular Biology - Genetics/Neuro

University of Washington - Neuroscience - Neuroepigentics

UMich - Behavioral Neuroscience 

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41 minutes ago, bozwell15 said:

Hi all,

Just wondering what my chances are based off of my current stats.

Undergrad Institution 1: SUNY Broome
Major(s): Engineering Science
Overall GPA: 2.7
Position in Class: Unknown
Type of Student: Domestic White Male

Undergrad Institution 2: University at Buffalo, SUNY
Major(s): Biological Sciences
Minor(s): Statistics
GPA in Major: 3.2
Overall GPA: 3.25
Position in Class: Unknown

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
- Taking in a few weeks so I'll update this then.


Research Experience: 1 year of molecular biology research with a presentation at the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference in 2017. Almost 2 years of research experience at the University at Buffalo in a molecular genetics lab coupled with an Undergrad TA position for 1 year.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: SUNY Undergrad Research Conference, Ralph D. Hochstetter Scholarship (2017-2018)

Pertinent Activities or Jobs - Professional:

  •  SUNY Broome Mathematics Tutor
  • UB Work Study Student

Pertinent Activities or Jobs - Non-Professional:

  • Supervisor at Price Chopper (2014-2015)
  • Sales Specialist at Victoria's Secret (2015-2017)
  • Cashier at Wegmans (2018-current)

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: Both LGBT and economically disadvantaged independent student -> Not sure how much this matters but my PI told me I should find a way to bring it up.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Diagnosed with Tourette's Disorder and ADHD which somewhat explains my lower GPA but also kind of doesn't considering the tics aren't bad enough to effect my ability to do schoolwork or research. 

Applying to Where:
University at Buffalo - Biological Sciences PhD - Neuroscience

University at Buffalo  - PPBS - Neuroscience

SUNY Binghamton - Cell and molecular Biology - Genetics

UCLA - Cell and Molecular Biology - Genetics/Neuro

University of Washington - Neuroscience - Neuroepigentics

UMich - Behavioral Neuroscience 

I think you could really strengthen your application by taking a year or two to work in a research setting full time and get things like publications and presentations on your application.

That being said, your application isn't bad. I think a strong SOP and strong LORs would bolster everything for you, though UCLA/UW/UMich are reach schools.

You could mention your Tourette's and ADHD in your application if you think it's relevant, as well as your economic disadvantage. Some/most applications give you an opportunity to submit "additional documents" and I know people who used that space to explain special circumstances.

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On 8/3/2018 at 8:06 PM, Telepathy said:

Hello guys! Could you please give me some advice on my list?

Undergrad Institution: Top University in China
Major(s): Biomedical Engineering
Minor(s)
GPA in Major: ~3.6 (not sure)
Overall GPA: 3.60 (upward trend, last 60 credits: 3.87 using WES calculator)
Position in Class: top 20%

Type of Student: International/Asian, Male

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 170 (97%)
V: 157 (76%)
W: 3.0 (18%)
B: To take on Sep.15 

Going to retake on Aug. 23, hopefully may get my Writing higher

TOEFL Total: 105 (R29 L29 S22 W25)  To retake on Sep.8 mainly to improve the speaking part

 

Research Experience:

  • 1 summer research (~3 months) in neurobiology at Harvard Medical School (should get a good LOR)
  • 6 months undergraduate research related to neuroscience at my home institute
  • 1 year undergrad research in mitochondria in the same lab at home institute

Have 2 review articles (one 3rd/6 author published, one 4th/6 accepted) although the journal is not so good.

If lucky enough, may be on a Science paper (surely not first author lol) prior to application submission.

 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

  • 3 university-level awards
  • 2 university-level scholarships
  • Biomedical Engineering Capstone Design 3rd prize

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

  • Physics tutor
  • Research assistant

Courses:

  • Undergrad biology (neurobiology, molecular cell biology, biophysics, etc.), chemistry, psychology
  • a LOT of math & physics


Applying to Where: Neuroscience programs, maybe also some cell biology and cancer programs

  • UCSD
  • UCLA
  • UPenn
  • Columbia
  • Duke
  • U of Washington
  • Weill Cornell
  • NYU Sackler
  • UChicago
  • UMich
  • Brown
  • UTsouthwestern

I know the competition in neuroscience could be very intense, especially for international students. I just skip the top schools like Harvard. Do you guys think I am still aiming too high?  Any advice as to where to apply would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

You have a great profile! One thing about applying as an international is that there are significantly less spots (if I were to guess probably <5%) due especially in state/public schools. I had a lot more success my second round of applications when I applied to more privately funded schools which don't have these restrictions (e.g. BCM  where I go takes in closer to 50% of internationals). I would take that into account when finalizing your lists. 

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Undergrad Institution 1: The College of New Jersey
Major(s): Applied Mathematics
Overall GPA: 3.1
Type of Student: Domestic Asian


GRE Scores (revised/old version):

Q: 162

V: 151

A: 5.0

Pertinent Activities or Jobs - Professional:

  •  Intern at a Private Equity Company

Courses taken: Regression Analysis,  Data Mining, Database Management, Intro to Data

Courses taking now: Data Management and Analysis, Buisness Analytics, Probability, Regression Analysis, 


Applying to Where:

NJIT

Drexel

UMDUC

Northeastern

Penn State

Rutgers

 

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6 hours ago, FailedScientist said:

You have a great profile! One thing about applying as an international is that there are significantly less spots (if I were to guess probably <5%) due especially in state/public schools. I had a lot more success my second round of applications when I applied to more privately funded schools which don't have these restrictions (e.g. BCM  where I go takes in closer to 50% of internationals). I would take that into account when finalizing your lists. 

Thanks so much! That's really helpful information.

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Undergrad Institution: National University of Singapore (World 15th, Asia 1st)   
Major(s): Life Sciences
Minor(s): Forensic Science
GPA in Major: 3.5
Overall GPA: 3.55
Position in Class: Near the top (Distinction class)
Type of Student: International female
I actually just graduated from Uni two months ago, so most of my experience comes from my undergraduate research, and I haven’t had any experience working in research formally. 


GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 165 (88%)
V: 151 (52%)
W: 5.0 (92%) 
I’m doing GRE Biology test in October, I hope it can help boost my application and bolster my poor verbal score if I manage to score well… should I consider retaking my GRE General? I don’t know, I for my life cannot score well with memorizing all those tough words for the verbal section… Is my 151 verbal score a rejection factor? 

TOEFL Total: Not applicable, I’m a native English speaker 

Research Experience:

Two years of experience in lab settings (biochem, microbio, immuno facilities): 

-      Spent one year during 3rdyear undergraduate to do a research project working on mostly bacterial work (Got an A). This was my first research experience, which really led me to think about graduate school after graduation… my mentor and supervisor were so kind to me and gave me a whole ton of advice. I was at first hesitant to give research a try but it was overall an awesome opportunity for me to learn 

-      Spent another year at the same laboratory as part of my final year project (FYP) (Got an A-)

-      Many presentations of data at laboratory meetings

-      Published a paper in FASEB Journal, although 7/11thwriter, middle authorship

-      Another upcoming paper to include my work in FYP still in preparation, but I’m not 100% sure when publication will happen as I have already left the lab, publication might take awhile with some animal work

-      One poster presentation as part of my FYP work

 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Prize – Certificate of Merit, Honors Programme, bursary for tuition every semester, one travel grant for my summer in Thailand

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: I’ve worked as a tutor for close to five years, mostly teaching math and science to children and teens (up to high school), education facilitator in the zoo to guide children and visitors for camps. I’ve worked twice as a graduate student researcher under department of engineering for otitis media with effusion project, and another time for a device for elderlies. I also worked part time in a butterfly facility in the university to help feed and raise and keep butterfly lines for their research. 

 

I’m considering applying for a RA position to gain some formal experience starting in December, but that is a big maybe. I might consider working full time as a relief teacher while waiting for applications too. 

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: 

Many volunteering work befriending elderly beneficiaries and terminally ill patients, Project director for a pretty large-scale volunteering programme in NUS (nominated for School Achievement Awards)
Fluent in Thai and a little bit of Vietnamese (if these even help)


Special Bonus Points: 

-      Both my undergrad supervisor and mentor know me quite well, I will be able to secure some pretty solid LORs from them. Supervisor is world learning researcher in her field, and my mentor has done some pretty solid research for close to 20 years. For my third LOR, I’m probably gonna get another supervisor who can also write a great LOR for me. 

-      Upward trend in GPA, tried to pull my grades up in my 3rdand 4thyears 

-      Completed a good number of my 4thyear courses (4000 Level) with As (Advanced Immunology, Drug Discovery and Clinical trials, Adv Cell Biology)
 

Applying to Where: Mostly microbiology/ immunology labs. Are there any other good schools out there besides the ones I have listed below that I should consider? Please let me know!

 

UCSD Biomedical Sciences

UCSB (Molecular Cellular & Developmental Bio) 

Penn State BMMB

Boston Uni (Graduate Medical Sciences)

USC (PIBBS) Medical Biology

Uni of Rochester (Sch of Med & Den)

Cincinnati Children’s (Immunology Grad Prog)

UT Austin (Inst for Cell Mol Bio)

Uni of New Hampshire

Uni of Michigan (PIBS)

Uni of Pittsburgh (PMI)

Baylor College of Medicine

Uni at Buffalo SUNY

 

Could anybody let me know my odds? I know I'm not a particular strong applicant with my grades. Is my list of colleges too ambitious? Please let me know! 

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19 hours ago, sunshinebloom said:

 

Undergrad Institution: National University of Singapore (World 15th, Asia 1st)   
Major(s): Life Sciences
Minor(s): Forensic Science
GPA in Major: 3.5
Overall GPA: 3.55
Position in Class: Near the top (Distinction class)
Type of Student: International female
I actually just graduated from Uni two months ago, so most of my experience comes from my undergraduate research, and I haven’t had any experience working in research formally. 


GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 165 (88%)
V: 151 (52%)
W: 5.0 (92%) 
I’m doing GRE Biology test in October, I hope it can help boost my application and bolster my poor verbal score if I manage to score well… should I consider retaking my GRE General? I don’t know, I for my life cannot score well with memorizing all those tough words for the verbal section… Is my 151 verbal score a rejection factor? 

TOEFL Total: Not applicable, I’m a native English speaker 

Research Experience:

Two years of experience in lab settings (biochem, microbio, immuno facilities): 

-      Spent one year during 3rdyear undergraduate to do a research project working on mostly bacterial work (Got an A). This was my first research experience, which really led me to think about graduate school after graduation… my mentor and supervisor were so kind to me and gave me a whole ton of advice. I was at first hesitant to give research a try but it was overall an awesome opportunity for me to learn 

-      Spent another year at the same laboratory as part of my final year project (FYP) (Got an A-)

-      Many presentations of data at laboratory meetings

-      Published a paper in FASEB Journal, although 7/11thwriter, middle authorship

-      Another upcoming paper to include my work in FYP still in preparation, but I’m not 100% sure when publication will happen as I have already left the lab, publication might take awhile with some animal work

-      One poster presentation as part of my FYP work

 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Prize – Certificate of Merit, Honors Programme, bursary for tuition every semester, one travel grant for my summer in Thailand

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: I’ve worked as a tutor for close to five years, mostly teaching math and science to children and teens (up to high school), education facilitator in the zoo to guide children and visitors for camps. I’ve worked twice as a graduate student researcher under department of engineering for otitis media with effusion project, and another time for a device for elderlies. I also worked part time in a butterfly facility in the university to help feed and raise and keep butterfly lines for their research. 

 

I’m considering applying for a RA position to gain some formal experience starting in December, but that is a big maybe. I might consider working full time as a relief teacher while waiting for applications too. 

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: 

Many volunteering work befriending elderly beneficiaries and terminally ill patients, Project director for a pretty large-scale volunteering programme in NUS (nominated for School Achievement Awards)
Fluent in Thai and a little bit of Vietnamese (if these even help)


Special Bonus Points: 

-      Both my undergrad supervisor and mentor know me quite well, I will be able to secure some pretty solid LORs from them. Supervisor is world learning researcher in her field, and my mentor has done some pretty solid research for close to 20 years. For my third LOR, I’m probably gonna get another supervisor who can also write a great LOR for me. 

-      Upward trend in GPA, tried to pull my grades up in my 3rdand 4thyears 

-      Completed a good number of my 4thyear courses (4000 Level) with As (Advanced Immunology, Drug Discovery and Clinical trials, Adv Cell Biology)
 

Applying to Where: Mostly microbiology/ immunology labs. Are there any other good schools out there besides the ones I have listed below that I should consider? Please let me know!

 

UCSD Biomedical Sciences

UCSB (Molecular Cellular & Developmental Bio) 

Penn State BMMB

Boston Uni (Graduate Medical Sciences)

USC (PIBBS) Medical Biology

Uni of Rochester (Sch of Med & Den)

Cincinnati Children’s (Immunology Grad Prog)

UT Austin (Inst for Cell Mol Bio)

Uni of New Hampshire

Uni of Michigan (PIBS)

Uni of Pittsburgh (PMI)

Baylor College of Medicine

Uni at Buffalo SUNY

 

Could anybody let me know my odds? I know I'm not a particular strong applicant with my grades. Is my list of colleges too ambitious? Please let me know! 

I think your list is okay, but with the added factor of being an international student it's hard to judge.

It sounds like you could really benefit from taking at least a year to work in a lab to bolster your application. It's not necessarily your GPA I'd be worried about, but working in a lab full time in a formal setting and not for a grade is VERY different from undergrad lab experiences. Your experience sounds pretty good, but especially if you yourself are saying that you don't think you're a strong enough candidate, you might want to take more time. Those insecurities can come through on applications and in interviews, and it would improve your odds.

What's the rush? 

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On 7/31/2018 at 8:31 PM, Anne09 said:

Hello guys! I was wondering if I could get some advice about my application. I believe that I have strong research experience, but my GRE scores are absolutely awful and my GPA is mediocre. I am struggling to figure out where to apply to graduate school and would appreciate some honest feedback (you can be as brutal as necessary I just need some honesty haha). Please feel free to message me as well! I am more than happy to help in anyway I can. 

Anyways, here we go... 

Undergrad Institution: (Top 5 liberal arts school -  U.S. News and World Report - my school is good academically, but personally I do not think that we are great for science. However, I did cross-register over half of my classes the last two years at a top 5 university - Forbes ranking)
Major(s): Neuroscience 
Minor(s): Music 

Overall GPA: between 3.5 and 3.6 (I know that my GRE is low for top schools)

Note: GPA in major may have been a bit lower at my liberal arts school, but it is much higher at the university I was cross-registered it (I have no idea why...)
Position in Class: really not sure, but probably only okay - we did have grade deflation and my school sends out a letter with our transcript to graduate schools explaining their grade deflation policies
Type of Student: I am a female, non-minority 

Note: also took many business and entrepreneurship courses at two major business schools too (idk if this will make my application interesting or be a negative)

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 151 (51%) I know that this is absolutely awful (am worried that it might be a rejection factor)
V: 161 (86%)
W: 4.5 (82%)

Research Experience: (At your school or elsewhere? What field? How much time? Any publications (Mth author out of N?) or conference talks etc...)

I absolutely LOVE research. 

Sophomore fall: basic research in a lab in my major at my liberal arts school - just gained basic laboratory techniques - nothing special

Sophomore spring: transferred to a lab at a major research school (MIT, Harvard, Stanford etc) - stayed in this lab until my junior spring - research is loosely related to the research I hope to do in graduate school (worked for a year and a half) - positive relationships with everyone there

Junior fall - senior spring: this is probably the first research experience that I will really stress in my application since it was directly related to what I am doing now and hope to do in graduate school - wonderful research experience with wonderful mentors - gained many skills, and was published third author in a major publication (Nature, Science, Cell etc) with a decent amount of press - I am forever grateful for the people who mentored me in this lab (research was also at a school, such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford etc and in the lab of a Nobel Laureate)

Junior summer - did a summer internship abroad in a research lab in Europe- great experience, learned many skills, and in the same field as my major, but the research is not directly relevant to what I hope to do in graduate school - top school in Europe

Currently: I am working as a research technician in another wonderful lab with fantastic and supportive mentors at a school such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford etc, but different than the school I worked in as an undergraduate. (I have been working there for about a year and a half as of now) - two and a half years by the time I (hopefully) am in graduate school - was promoted within a year and published in a good journal (only 5th author) - e.g. Cell, Neuron, PLOS etc 

Note: not sure how much this matters, but this research is also directly related to what I would love to do in graduate school - the PI of the whole lab is also known as the top professor in his field 


Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

I haven't won so many research awards, but I was a finalist for a major fellowship (Rhodes, Fulbright etc) - was on the waitlist for it, but ultimately did not receive it (It's okay though haha)

Won many national piano competitions when I was younger (performed in Carnegie Hall) - but I would consider this a bit outdated, because I am older now

have a couple of contests I have won for entrepreneurship projects, but idk how much this counts...  

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...)

Intern for a medical device startup my senior year 

Note: I also do not know if this is a positive or a negative, but I originally worked on my startup (I was a co-founder) for about 7 months after graduation - project ultimately failed so I started my research job, but I learned a lot and we did make headway) 

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

I am currently working on another entrepreneurship project related to my research on the side for fun, but honestly I haven't made too much progress as of now

I will be presenting a poster and have an abstract published at a major international conference (will present in the fall before application due dates)

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)

I took graduate-level courses in one of the schools I hope to apply to and received only 1 B the rest As (idk if this will help make up for my GPA at my liberal arts school or not..)

I also have gotten extremely fortunate with my mentors and am forever grateful for them. One of my letters will be written by a very famous professor (Nobel laureate) - I worked and published in his lab. My other two letters will come from my current direct supervisor (he is amazing) and the PI of the whole lab (known as the best professor in his field). All 3 letters will be personal and I would be very surprised if they were not excellent. Overall, I would consider my letters to be the strongest aspect of my application, as all of them know me personally and I have strong relationships with them. 


Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

I do volunteer work related to women in STEM. 

I also have done some independent contract work for a medical device for a major pharmaceutical - not sure if I should include such things on my application or not...

P.S. Sorry this is long - any feedback is appreciated. Basically I think most of my application is decent, but my GRE schools are simply AWFUL. I am going to re-take the GRE again (first took these back in October - December), but who knows how I will do. Any recommendations as to where to apply would be greatly appreciated - I am a bit stressed right now and would appreciate the input (the harsher and more realistic the better). 

Thank you!
 

 

 

Thank you for all the feedback. I took my GRE again and my scores are now: 

Quant:158, verbal: 157

Still not the best, I know...

Currently I am applying to MIT, Harvard, Stanford, University of Oxford, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Yale, Northwestern University, Princeton, University of Chicago, USCD, University of Pennsylvania, University of California - Berkeley, Cornell University, Duke, Brown, Tufts, UCLA, Dartmouth, EPFL (maybe USCF)

I know these are a lot, but my mentality is just to apply to a bunch and see what happens.

Any other feedback is appreciated. 

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1 hour ago, Anne09 said:

Thank you for all the feedback. I took my GRE again and my scores are now: 

Quant:158, verbal: 157

Still not the best, I know...

Currently I am applying to MIT, Harvard, Stanford, University of Oxford, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Yale, Northwestern University, Princeton, University of Chicago, USCD, University of Pennsylvania, University of California - Berkeley, Cornell University, Duke, Brown, Tufts, UCLA, Dartmouth, EPFL (maybe USCF)

I know these are a lot, but my mentality is just to apply to a bunch and see what happens.

Any other feedback is appreciated. 

That is a very long list of really high tier schools. If you can afford it, go for it. But it also is almost impossible that you have enough faculty of interest at each of those schools. 

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On 8/20/2018 at 1:26 PM, Renalee said:

Undergrad Institution: Large state school, nothing special
Major(s): Double in Biology and Environmental Studies
Minor(s): Chemistry
GPA in Major: 3.89 (Biology)
Overall GPA: 3.93
Position in Class: Unsure but I graduated summa cum laude
Type of Student: domestic, white, female

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 157 (65th %)
V: 163 (93rd %)
W: 4 (59th %)
I took this in late 2014 (graduated in 2015). At this point I don't think I'd really do any better on it so I'm hesitant to spend the money retaking it.

Research Experience:

1 year of undergrad research in a plant genetics lab, but nothing significant came of it.

Have been working as a research specialist for the past 2.5 years (will be 3 years in February) at an institution associated with Emory University. I will be promoted to lead research specialist next month. I have done a poster presentation at one conference, have one paper published (3rd author), 1 paper submitted (3rd author), and 2 papers in the pipeline (one 2nd author and one middle author). My research is focused on genetics and immunology and I do a lot of single cell sequencing.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Graduated summa cum laude, was on the President's List for 5 semesters and Dean's List for 3 semesters. Was also a National Merit Scholar but that was a pretty long time ago so it doesn't really matter.


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Nothing besides my current job as a research specialist.

 

Letters of Recommendation: Will be getting a strong letter from my PI and potentially from his colleague who knows me and is quite well known in the HIV/AIDS field. Considering whether a letter from the postdoc I work under or the lab manager of my lab would be better for my last letter (both should be very positive, I'm just not sure if one would "look" better than the other?).


Applying to Where:

Rockefeller

Emory

University of Chicago

Harvard

Cornell

Boston University

 

I know my list is pretty top heavy and I've been looking for other schools to apply to but I think I'm too picky. I'm really interested in vaccine development and anything with single cells, but kind of want to get away from the HIV/AIDS field. I'm partial to moving to the Northeast.

Also considering: Scripps San Diego and Weill Cornell. I think I'd like to cut down my list down to 5 schools to actually apply to though.

 

I'd love if someone could give me feedback on my profile!

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Undergrad Institution: International school.
Major(s): Biotechnology
Minor(s): N/A
GPA in Major: N/A 
Overall GPA: 86% 
Position in Class: 3rd of my class


Graduate Institution: Top 10 public US university
Major(s):  M.Sc. Animal Science (Doing mostly genetics & computational biology work) (Will finish In spring 2019)
GPA in Major: 
Overall GPA: 3.9 
Position in Class: I am not sure, but I am at the top surely. 
Type of Student: International female


GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 158
V: 162
W: don’t remember.

TOEFL
Total: 117

 

Research Experience: 
-1 year of research in cell models for in vitro fertilization for bachelor’s thesis
-Internship in viral vaccine production company producing and developing vaccines.
-1 year of working in a goverment food microbiology lab 
-5 months of research in stem cell transcriptomics at the bioinformatics lab of a recognized institute
-2 years of research in transcriptomics/epigenomics using computational biology for master’s thesis
-1 publication as 2nd author, 2 publications under review as 2nd author, 2 submitted publications (one as middle author and one as 1st author).


Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?)
-Received department scholarship
-Was invited to speak at huge international conference


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...)
-Undergrad TA for biochemistry lab
-TA for a programming course
-Reviewer for journal of undergraduate research for my school


Applying to Where:

I’m not sure of my chances  at any of these places or how competitive I might be for a PhD program, if any of you could indicate me that would be great!
If you all have any other suggestions of some places to apply that would be great as well.

University of Chicago- Genetics, Genomics and Systems Biology
Boston University - Bioinformatics
Tri-Institutional - Computational Biology and Medicine
CMU-Pitt - Computational Biology
Columbia - Systems Biology
Cornell - Genetics, Genomics and development
Sanger Institute 4-year PhD program
EMBL-EBI PhD program

Edited by rorykinss
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Posting again as I got no responses - have since taken the GRE and narrowed down a list of schools.

Undergrad Institution: Top 10 UK university for Biology
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology
Minor(s): N/A
GPA in Major: N/A
Overall GPA: ~3.8 (UK grade: currently First class (Hons))
Position in Class: N/A, we're not told. 
Type of Student: International, white, female

GRE Scores (revised/old version): 
Q: 154
V: 161
W: (Waiting, but should be good)

Research Experience:

  1. One year full-time at a US univeristy, molecular genetics lab.
  2. Half an academic year, part-time in a developmental genetics lab (dissertation project) at home university.
  3. Spent a short time in a scanning electron microscope lab as volunteer work experience, pre-university.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: N/A - No awards are given out until graduation, we don't have any system of academic recognition.
Pertinent Activities or Jobs:  N/A, except year at US institution as an undergraduate research assistant.
Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: All I can think is  'Image of the month' at an SEM lab I did work experience at - pretty insignificant. 
Special Bonus Points:  

  1. Paper in review at Nature Communications (3rd author).
  2. Data persented at a Cold Spring Harbor conference. 
  3. LOR from my PI in US, quite established in his area - his previous PI (still very much in contact) is one of the most well-reknowned and is still at Harvard.
  4. LOR from home university; he is an editor for multiple good genetics journals (not sure how much weight that carries?), has previously written me very strong LORs.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: LGBT, international?? A UK degree in MCB is more specialised than a US "major", so I will be playing this up in my SOP.

Applying to Where: Having spoken to my advisor at home university and grad students at US university, they've advised me to apply to top-tier - but I'm not sure how competitive I am (especially being international). Any input would be greatly appreciated!!

  • Harvard BBS
  • MIT Biology
  • Scripps
  • CalTech Biology and Biomedical sciences
  • UCSD Biological sciences (maybe, low international intake)
  • UIC

I realise this is a top heavy list; UIC is my safety. My GRE quant score isn't great, but I'm hoping my decent overall GRE score (315), high GPA and research experience (esp. high impact publication) will negate this!

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33 minutes ago, MeggoUK said:

Posting again as I got no responses - have since taken the GRE and narrowed down a list of schools.

Undergrad Institution: Top 10 UK university for Biology
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology
Minor(s): N/A
GPA in Major: N/A
Overall GPA: ~3.8 (UK grade: currently First class (Hons))
Position in Class: N/A, we're not told. 
Type of Student: International, white, female

GRE Scores (revised/old version): 
Q: 154
V: 161
W: (Waiting, but should be good)

Research Experience:

  1. One year full-time at a US univeristy, molecular genetics lab.
  2. Half an academic year, part-time in a developmental genetics lab (dissertation project) at home university.
  3. Spent a short time in a scanning electron microscope lab as volunteer work experience, pre-university.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: N/A - No awards are given out until graduation, we don't have any system of academic recognition.
Pertinent Activities or Jobs:  N/A, except year at US institution as an undergraduate research assistant.
Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: All I can think is  'Image of the month' at an SEM lab I did work experience at - pretty insignificant. 
Special Bonus Points:  

  1. Paper in review at Nature Communications (3rd author).
  2. Data persented at a Cold Spring Harbor conference. 
  3. LOR from my PI in US, quite established in his area - his previous PI (still very much in contact) is one of the most well-reknowned and is still at Harvard.
  4. LOR from home university; he is an editor for multiple good genetics journals (not sure how much weight that carries?), has previously written me very strong LORs.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: LGBT, international?? A UK degree in MCB is more specialised than a US "major", so I will be playing this up in my SOP.

Applying to Where: Having spoken to my advisor at home university and grad students at US university, they've advised me to apply to top-tier - but I'm not sure how competitive I am (especially being international). Any input would be greatly appreciated!!

  • Harvard BBS
  • MIT Biology
  • Scripps
  • CalTech Biology and Biomedical sciences
  • UCSD Biological sciences (maybe, low international intake)
  • UIC

I realise this is a top heavy list; UIC is my safety. My GRE quant score isn't great, but I'm hoping my decent overall GRE score (315), high GPA and research experience (esp. high impact publication) will negate this!

I would add in a few more safety schools as I know there are very few spots for international students at many universities, so it might be better if your finances permit to apply to a more broad range of schools.

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3 hours ago, rorykinss said:

Undergrad Institution: International school.
Major(s): Biotechnology
Minor(s): N/A
GPA in Major: N/A 
Overall GPA: 86% 
Position in Class: 3rd of my class


Graduate Institution: Top 10 public US university
Major(s):  M.Sc. Animal Science (Doing mostly genetics & computational biology work) (Will finish In spring 2019)
GPA in Major: 
Overall GPA: 3.9 
Position in Class: I am not sure, but I am at the top surely. 
Type of Student: International female


GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 158
V: 162
W: don’t remember.

TOEFL
Total: 117

 

Research Experience: 
-1 year of research in cell models for in vitro fertilization for bachelor’s thesis
-Internship in viral vaccine production company producing and developing vaccines.
-1 year of working in a goverment food microbiology lab 
-5 months of research in stem cell transcriptomics at the bioinformatics lab of a recognized institute
-2 years of research in transcriptomics/epigenomics using computational biology for master’s thesis
-1 publication as 2nd author, 2 publications under review as 2nd author, 2 submitted publications (one as middle author and one as 1st author).


Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?)
-Received department scholarship
-Was invited to speak at huge international conference


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...)
-Undergrad TA for biochemistry lab
-TA for a programming course
-Reviewer for journal of undergraduate research for my school


Applying to Where:

I’m not sure of my chances  at any of these places or how competitive I might be for a PhD program, if any of you could indicate me that would be great!
If you all have any other suggestions of some places to apply that would be great as well.

University of Chicago- Genetics, Genomics and Systems Biology
Boston University - Bioinformatics
Tri-Institutional - Computational Biology and Medicine
CMU-Pitt - Computational Biology
Columbia - Systems Biology
Cornell - Genetics, Genomics and development
Sanger Institute 4-year PhD program
EMBL-EBI PhD program

I think your profile is okay for those schools, but it's always hard to judge with international students. If you have the means, you might want to add a few more lower tier schools if you can find some with faculty of interest. 

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2 hours ago, leecy77 said:

I would add in a few more safety schools as I know there are very few spots for international students at many universities, so it might be better if your finances permit to apply to a more broad range of schools.

Seconded. It's really hard to just put all your eggs in the prestigious basket when it's so ambiguous what your odds are as an international student. 

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