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Profile evaluation and some advice please


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Hi everyone,


I'm applying to Engineering Masters programs, fall 2013 intake, specifically Bioengineering, Biomolecular engineering, or Biotech type programs.  Here's my background, with a couple of notes along the way:


Undergrad: Cellular and Molecular Biology, BS 2009, GPA 3.7/4.0 (transferred to US from SE Asia in junior year, so properly, it was underclass GPA 4.0/4.0, upperclass GPA 3.4/4.0)


GRE (sat for them Feb 1, 2013): Q169, V162.  Waiting on AWA


Work experience:


During undergrad: TA (organic chemistry), ran my own painting company



1) Molecular genetics researcher and lab manager for a academic research lab (3 years); mostly basic science research, plus keeping the place running and the vendors away from my PI.

2) Metabolic engineer/Research associate in a biofuels (cellulosic ethanol) start-up (7 months*).  I was a industrial yeast strain engineer/builder.


* Why only 7 months?  Because 2 weeks ago, I was laid off.  On the plus side, I wrote my VP and he's offered to be a recommender.


Applying to:


- Dartmouth (#) (Chemical and biomolecular engineering)

- Northwestern 

- UPenn (Biotech Masters)

- Cornell (BEE department)


(#) My company founder is faculty at Dartmouth, I did a bit of work at his lab while working at the biofuels job, we have spoken, and he knows that I am applying to Dartmouth.  


So my main concerns are:


1) What do I need to address in my application (besides the layoff) to land a spot in these schools?  


2) Recommenders: As mentioned my VP (and my immediate supervisor) have agreed to write my recommendations.  But I know the schools generally prefer (or mandate) that one recommendation must be from a faculty member.  I have one filed away with my alma mater from 2009 for such a situation, will that have a negative impact on my application?


3) Are there any other schools that I can and should consider, given my interests?  Briefly, I'm interested in the appropriating and (re)-engineering of organisms' metabolic pathways to either better produce biochemicals, or to convert them into bioremediators.  Suggestions are most welcome!


4) Ideas for SOP!  I'm thinking of using my layoff as a talking point: while it is a setback for my career development, I am still intent on pursuing the biotech path, and am thus using this opportunity to return to learn new skills while refining those that I already possess.  Good idea, or a one-way ticket to rejection?


Time is a bit of a constraint, the reason I am applying for fall 2013 is that I happen to be a foreigner on a work visa, so finding another job is very difficult.  Couple that with the fact that I do not want to remain idle for too long, and a viable option is to take this opportunity to do what I have been putting off, and go back for a Masters.


Apologies if this seems all over the place.  A lot of unexpected changes have happened to me these past 2 weeks, and I'm still trying to get a mid-term plan set in stone.  If you need more information or clarification, I will do my utmost to provide them.  Thank you!





- BB

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