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Fall 2019 Chance Me for Physics PhD


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So the physics forum is completely dead, so I thought I'd post here for a chance me. I am applying this fall for admission in fall 2020.

Here's the stats.

Major: Math & Physics

GPA: 3.79/4

Major GPA: 3.72/4. I had some Bs during frosh and soph year, but I focused on improving my study habits. I did way better in spring of 2nd year and got a 4.0 both semesters during junior year, which is when I also took my most rigorous coursework.

Undergrad institution: Top 20 school, very prestigious, well-regarded in physics

GRE: Haven't taken yet

Physics GRE: 780/990 (retaking this fall)

Research experiences:

0) I did some research in HS at a university with some friends for the science fair, and we got a peer-reviewed publication out in a small journal.

1) Spent summer after HS senior year doing work at a plasma lab. It was an internship for high schoolers, so I didn't get hands-on experience. Good experience, and got a poster presentation at the end of the program.

2) Spent summer between freshman and sophomore year at my school researching, worked with that professor during sophomore spring and junior year. No pubs, but it's a new lab, and got a lot of hands-on experience and understand what it's like setting up equipment and starting a new lab. I got a ton of hardware experience too, and I plan on emphasizing that in my SoP. I like the PI and he's also agreed to write a good letter. As part of program and course requirements, I did a few presentations with this PI, but far from a national conference or anything big.

3) Spent summer between sophomore and junior year at prestigious West Coast school with a well-known faculty member, getting a publication from that in an undergrad journal. Really liked the experience and PI has agreed to write a really strong letter. I did an oral presentation at the end of the summer.

4) Spending this summer at another well-regarded West Coast school doing some computational work. Part of the program involves attending two national conferences and three presentations.

5) I'll be researching with a new profesor this upcoming year for a senior thesis. Hopefully will be able to attend some more conferences, and we've already got a good working relationship.

I will be asking professors 2, 3, 4, and 5 for recommendations hopefully.

Awards/Honors: Attended an optics winter school, got a 4 year scholarship to my school for being FGLI, won a smaller scholarship to pay for expenses, and got fellowships each summer to support my work. Also got a fellowship to support my junior and senior academic-year work.

Jobs: Worked as a course grader for one year in a STEM department.

Other and Misc.: Doing short independent reading this summer.

Extremely involved with my school's SPS and am currently president and have helped jump start a lot of new initiatives.

Will be taking a graduate level class this year with a faculty who's well-known in my subfield of physics.

I am also in the process of contacting faculty at schools I'm applying to. I'm trying to contact people doing work that interests me, and I plan to follow up with them in the fall and let them know I've applied. 

 

So questions I have: Is 4 letters recommended? Also, all my research has been in many disparate areas. My HS work was in chemistry, my earlier college work was in AMO and hardware, then I did quantum networking, and now computational work. And I want to pivot to a new subfield. I plan on asking my recommenders to address that and pose it as a strength; I've done a lot of different things, demonstrating my flexibility and ability to adapt to new challenges. Furthermore, since the field I want to enter is interdisciplinary, I plan on selling that in the statement.

How is my profile, overall? 

I don't know what else to do other than draft my SOP, keep working, and take the GRE and physics GRE. Am I overly worried?

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