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Neuro Statement of Purpose Review

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Hey everyone!

I'm new to thegradcafe, so hopefully this is in the right forum section. I was hoping that someone could review my statement of purpose and offer critiques and feedback. I have looked at various samples, and I think the current iteration covers most of the main topics. I am willing to offer any additional information that could make it better.

Thanks in advance

Personal Statement Trial 3.docx

Edited by grahft09
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Statement of Purpose

The article that started me on my path working towards a research career in neuroscience was “Behavioural neuroscience: Rat navigation guided by remote control”. In this single experiment, the researchers were able to demonstrate the interconnectedness of three subjects I enjoy: Psychology, Chemistry, and Biology. While videos of this were interesting to watch, the implications of the experiment were what fascinated me. The notion that something like the brain that is so complexly interconnected could be externally manipulated is incredible. This made me ask questions, and these questions eventually formed the basis of my research interest.

Growing up I was always told that I ask too many questions, but through research and education, I will make a career out of asking those same questions. Because of a propensity to discover how and why things work, my research interest in general are wide and varied. If I were to come across something interesting, I would find enjoyment in solving the puzzle. Though, this is not to say that I don’t have any specific interest. Memory formation and recollection, neural pathways, and machine learning would be a few. Memory, neural pathways, and interneurons at a physical level, are of particular interest to me. This fascination stems from the logic that is required in the multitude of dendritic connections that form the basis of memory and human functionality. Trying to envision the logic that the recollection of a memory or voluntary action entails is mind-blowing. Courses in computer science and psychology may have influenced this particular interest. As a graduate student, I want to conduct research that explores topics such as this.

Though my research experience has been relatively brief, it has been a great and enjoyable learning experience. I currently have one independent study looking into how varying levels of perceived anonymity affects online disinhibition. Using a quantitative approach, I was able to find significant differences among four online platforms. As of writing this, I have completed a paper submission to present this research at next year’s Southwestern Psychological Association Conference. My research sponsor, Dr. X also believes that submitted the research for publication is not far off. One of my goals is to continue this research into a graduate program even if as a side project. My hope is to eventually tie it into neuroscience (a possibility is to use imaging to observe the differences in a persons’ brain whilst under varying levels of perceived anonymity). Conducting independent research as my first project has been challenging, but the experience from the troubles along the way have been a reward in and of itself.

I am also currently involved in a small section of research my academic adviser, Dr. Y, is working on. The section I am working on looks into the relation between self-control, heart rate variability, and sympathetic nervous system arousal. My contributions were in the form of data collection and interpretation. To collect data, participants were hooked up to an EKG machine and their heart rates were recorded before, during, and after certain task. To interpret the data, I created an Excel template that used an algorithm comprised of logic and math to determine ‘R’ peaks in the wave form. Once working, the template would accept nine recordings with 2400 values each. Using the ‘R’ peaks, heart rate variability would be individually calculated, and then referenced to show a change over time in a graph format. Because of this research, I learned how to conduct experiments using human participants, gained the ability to use an EKG and read the corresponding data, and became more proficient in Excel from the hours of trial and error formulating the right use of math and logic gates. The one thing that remained constant in both of my projects was that the numbers found inside the data told many different stories, and some numbers warranted further questions of why. This was probably the aspect I enjoyed the most.

For my last semester, I will be taking part in a research internship. My research proposal for this had already been accepted by my adviser. The research will look into what the effects of time and pressure are on performance and heart rate. Math or logic tasks will be arranged in orders of varying difficulty. My hypothesis is that participants that begin with a very difficult task will have an increased arousal in the sympathetic nervous system and a decrease in performance. I am excited to begin.

Currently, my career goals are to complete my graduate studies and future postdoctoral work. My ultimate career goal though, is to both conduct basic and applied research and teach at a university. At the same time, I also want to adjunct at a community college. As someone that came from a poor family and had to work throughout most of their academic career, community college was essential. While research experience wasn’t available to me there, I had exemplary instructors. I would like to give students like myself the same experience with the added opportunity for research experience. 


Edited by grahft09
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It is a good draft. One general comment - some of your sentences seem little too casual for your graduate application essay. It may help if you make some sentences more formal. For example:

On 10/31/2015, 1:40:09, grahft09 said:

Courses in computer science and psychology may have influenced this particular interest.

May have/probably/possibly - it doesn't sound good when you are writing about yourself. You want to be more definite in your assessment of yourself.

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