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Vanderbilt vs Wisconsin-Madison for Biophysics PhD


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Accepted to both. Wisconsin has a narrower focus on biophysics and the coursework for the first year seems more useful for what I want to do, which is structural biology, and the focus of people's research seems more focused on basic science than medical application, which appeals to me. it also has a very impressive NMR facility that is better than Vanderbilt's and NMR is what I think I am most interested in. They have a better rank in terms of NIH funding and I think the reputation of the program is a little higher than Vanderbilt, which doesn't really matter that much to me because both are excellent schools, but it's coming down to very small differences to make this decision. In Vanderbilt's favor is a higher stipend compared to cost of living by about 20%, a much milder climate for someone from the south, the possibility of changing what I end up doing to some extent because it is an umbrella program (eg: cell biology or molecular neurology instead of biophysics), and the presence of an electron microscopy facility with a direct electron detector as I would like to do a rotation in a cryo-EM lab because its such a fast-emerging field. The biggest pitfall for Vanderbilt is that their graduation time over the past few years has increased from 5.3 to 5.7 years. 5.7 years isnt much more than Wisconsin's 5.4 but I'm worried if that trend continues if I will have spent 6.5 years there by the time I graduate. 

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