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Ph.D Biophysics; M.S./M.Eng. Bio(medical) Engineering: Profile Eval?


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TL;DR: Low GPA, Great Research/LORs + Publications, Co-Op Experience, SOP in-progress, List of programs needs-to-be-finalized.

Hi all,

Been lurking on GC for quite a while, a little in awe over all your guys' stats/success stories. Hopefully I can pick your collective brains for some help/advice for my situation.

Applying to: Still TBD; looking for a Ph.D in Biophysics or M.S./M.Eng. in Bio(medical) Engineering - any recommendations would be awesome! Currently considering: UT Austin, UT Southwest, UC Santa Barbara, Berkeley (Ph.D with current lab), Stanford, JHU, Utah, and CU Boulder


University of California, Berkeley:

Major: B.S. Bioengineering (2.65 cumulative GPA, ~2.8 major GPA) <-- Major deficiency in my application; too low to recover from?

GRE: 165V, 163Q, 5.5AW (translates to ~700V, 780Q, 5.5/6 AW) [is my Quant. score too low?]

Research Experience:

Lots of research experience since high school, not all in the same lab.

  • High school internship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA. Power systems/ChemE research for lunar/martian applications
  • NSF internship at UC Riverside my frosh summer, biophysics/biomechanics research
  • 1.5 years at a highly-regarded HHMI faculty member's lab at Berkeley - Biophysics/MCB/cellular mechanics research
  • 1+ year at highly-regarded microfluidics/biophysics/mechanical engineering lab - 2 publications in submission in high/medium-high impact journals [Amazing PI loves me, inspired me to go into grad school, outstanding recommendation]

Work Experience:

Just finished up a 6-month co-op with a major (multi-billion $ revenue) biomedical device company in the LA area (wanted to get a feel for industry, since I am fairly certain I don't want to go into academia following graduate school). Picked up Six Sigma Lean and Mistake Proofing certifications, LOTS of first-hand engineering design and development experience. Great experience. Company policy prohibits individuals from providing recommendation letters, but I could possibly use a program manager and a senior engineer as references if necessary.

Extracurriculars: Strong leadership in nanotechnology club on campus

Letters of Recommendation: 2 or 3 excellent recommendations from past PIs/professor, 1 outstanding recommendation from my current PI


My GPA does not really indicate any sort of trend, maybe slight upward? One cause I can think of for my performance is that until my junior year I tried to pursue both research + pre-med coursework on top of my normal engineering classes (no longer pre-med, obviously!). I don't have any excuses for my grades - I try pretty hard in my classes (could probably do a lot more, as is easily visible) but I think my interests (and bulk of dedication) are geared toward my research. My SOP will reflect the above statement, unless you guys feel it isn't relevant to mention?

I have one semester remaining, so I'll be cracking down on the books and can hopefully raise my GPA a little bit (obviously will not hit a 3.0 overall though).

I know my prospect of a Ph.D is pretty much shot with that, I am hoping my strong research background and LORs will help get me into a good MS/M.Eng program. Eventually, I'm hoping to get an MBA and continue in industry.

With a Ph.D, I am aiming for perhaps working in startups where specific technical knowledge will be required (early R&D efforts, etc.). No academia, not a fan.

I realize my application is kind of perplexing...trust me, I know, welcome to my life! Any advice/help anyone could offer would be most appreciated.


- AquaBear

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