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Hello everyone!

This is my first post in this forum, and I’d like some advice for my LoR writers. I’m applying to some genetics programs, most of which require three LoRs. One of them should come from PI of my current research lab, but I’m kind of unsure about the other two. For the second one, I’m thinking about a Professor who I took two classes with, and in both in I ranked top2/50. I went to his office hours several times and he is also well-known as a very nice person,so possibility is high that I can get a decent letter from him. But the third letter is what I keep struggling on. One option will be the instructor of a class I TAed before who is also a Professor, and the other is the PI of another research lab I’ve worked in. I know that going for a PI in research lab I worked before is always a better choice, but the problem is that I didn’t do many things in that lab so the PI could even not know me.Also,the research is completely irrelavant to the area I applied for. As comparison, I had a decent interaction with the other Professor and he at least knows who I am, and he is in a relevant field.  I’ll appreciate any suggestion on the choices. 

Btw, is it really a requirement for two letters from lab PI for top programs? I’m kind of sure that my first letter from current PI will be a very strong and personal one, so is a second letter from a PI in irrelavant field really a plus?

Thanks for any responses!

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  • 3 weeks later...

To me it sounds like either of the professors you mention as possibilities for your third recommendation sound good. I don't think it would matter too much if the one PI is in an irrelevant field because they can still write a letter about who you are as a worker in a research lab (as long as this PI knows you of course and can write about you as a worker in their lab). As for the other professor who was the instructor of a lab you TAed for they could be a good option because they know how you are as a TA and can write about that. I guess which professor you would choose would depend on whether you want to have two professors who talk about you in a research context (both PIs you mention - current and previous) or if you want to vary it and have a professor who can talk about you as a TA. If the programs you are applying for will require you to TA at any point it might not hurt to have a recommender who can talk about you as a TA but if you will never teach during your program then it might be more beneficial to have more recommenders who talk about you from the research side of things.

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