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Research experience in SOP

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Hi all, I'm new here and joined because I have really been struggling with my SOPs the last few months...

One question I have is, how/if I should mention my research experience if I am applying to programs in a different field, and the experience is not relevant to my decision to apply. I read advice somewhere that you should always mention research experience to demonstrate passion for the research process. I also think that my research is in a close enough field that it should help my application. However, I also know SOPs should be concise and future-focused, and when I try to construct a coherent narrative about my current research interests, it just doesn't seem to fit.

To give some more specific information: I did 2 years of research in Microbiology (my major) in undergrad for a senior thesis. After graduation, I started working in my current lab, which does biochemistry and structural biology. I've been there for over a year now, and am about to publish my first paper. I did not apply to graduate schools last round because I realized I needed to re-examine what I was doing and figure out what I was actually interested in. I'm applying to programs in Public Health, and programs in Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology that do public health-related research. I came to that decision by doing a lot of reading during my free time, taking an epidemiology course, and looking back at what topics I had enjoyed the most in my undergraduate coursework. I feel like not talking about 3+ years of research would be a rather glaring omission on one hand, but on the other it really has nothing to do with the development of my current interests.

Thanks in advance for any advice!


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I would definitely mention it and--if possible--explain how your experiences in that lab led you to the path you want to follow. This may not always have happened in a positive way, of course. For example, I used to work for a theoretical biochemist, and doing that for a few months reminded me of how much I really needed to do hands-on work.

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