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Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering - Fall 2017 PhD Application Profiles

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Got it to hand it to the JHU folks they show up to the boards every year it seems to help people out. It would be nice if some of the other 1st year admits from last year circled back for some Q&A. I am looking for Duke individuals specifically.... 

 

Expresso or some other JHU rep: How do you identify which PI is open to taking students? On the interview webpage, a lot of professors have availability some don't, is that the determining factor. I would like to focus on people with open slots. Also how long are interviews. 

 

Thanks in advance. 

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Just got accepted to University of Michigan! It was in Chemical Engineering because my focus is biomolecular. Is it weird I didn't have to interview?

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31 minutes ago, koab79 said:

Got it to hand it to the JHU folks they show up to the boards every year it seems to help people out. It would be nice if some of the other 1st year admits from last year circled back for some Q&A. I am looking for Duke individuals specifically.... 

 

Expresso or some other JHU rep: How do you identify which PI is open to taking students? On the interview webpage, a lot of professors have availability some don't, is that the determining factor. I would like to focus on people with open slots. Also how long are interviews. 

 

Thanks in advance. 

Im not a first year student at Duke, but I have been in contact with Duke professor for a few months while applying to their program and may have some answers from him for you.

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29 minutes ago, koab79 said:

Got it to hand it to the JHU folks they show up to the boards every year it seems to help people out. It would be nice if some of the other 1st year admits from last year circled back for some Q&A. I am looking for Duke individuals specifically.... 

 

Expresso or some other JHU rep: How do you identify which PI is open to taking students? On the interview webpage, a lot of professors have availability some don't, is that the determining factor. I would like to focus on people with open slots. Also how long are interviews. 

 

Thanks in advance. 

Glad to be of assistance! I know both of the people who posted last year in real life, and they're ridiculously nice and helpful. I remember how reassuring it was to get answers from people who had done it before, so I wanted to pay it forward. 

It's a good sign that they are taking students if they are interviewing. If there is someone in BME you want to interview with that isn't on the list, I would email them and ask if they are taking students this year. I'd be willing to guess most professors are. We do have challenges with faculty availability on interview weekends because everyone is so busy with traveling and conferences, so not having availability is not a guaranteed sign they are not taking students!

The interviews are 30 minutes each, and you will likely interview with three faculty (definitely at least three). Each faculty member has a different interview style: some will talk about their research nearly the whole time, some will ask you about your research and have specific questions to ask, some will just let you explain your research, and I've heard rumors of at least one asking math questions (but that's not the norm)!

 

17 minutes ago, spaceyquesadilla said:

Just got accepted to University of Michigan! It was in Chemical Engineering because my focus is biomolecular. Is it weird I didn't have to interview?

Not at all! There are several schools that do direct acceptances without interviews. Cornell and Harvard SEAS both do that. 

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30 minutes ago, spaceyquesadilla said:

Just got accepted to University of Michigan! It was in Chemical Engineering because my focus is biomolecular. Is it weird I didn't have to interview?

Congrats! My undergrad is in ChemE and none of those grad programs I applied to do interviews. I still haven't figured out why it's different between programs, but I guess interviews are the norm in biology so maybe that's why? Have to say it's nice to have the peace of mind of a few acceptances while waiting to visit/hear back from BE programs...

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1 hour ago, dbm3252 said:

Im not a first year student at Duke, but I have been in contact with Duke professor for a few months while applying to their program and may have some answers from him for you.

I am looking for specifics on the Duke interview going into Friday? Is it just for fit, interview duration, post interview percentages, turnaround time on decisions, etc.... ?

Also is the fact that one attending the 1st of the 3 interview days have any significance on percentages.?

Thanks in advance. 

Edited by koab79
added a question.

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6 hours ago, Extra Espresso said:

Glad to be of assistance! I know both of the people who posted last year in real life, and they're ridiculously nice and helpful. I remember how reassuring it was to get answers from people who had done it before, so I wanted to pay it forward. 

It's a good sign that they are taking students if they are interviewing. If there is someone in BME you want to interview with that isn't on the list, I would email them and ask if they are taking students this year. I'd be willing to guess most professors are. We do have challenges with faculty availability on interview weekends because everyone is so busy with traveling and conferences, so not having availability is not a guaranteed sign they are not taking students!

The interviews are 30 minutes each, and you will likely interview with three faculty (definitely at least three). Each faculty member has a different interview style: some will talk about their research nearly the whole time, some will ask you about your research and have specific questions to ask, some will just let you explain your research, and I've heard rumors of at least one asking math questions (but that's not the norm)!

 

Not at all! There are several schools that do direct acceptances without interviews. Cornell and Harvard SEAS both do that. 

Hi Extra Expresso, thank you for all the info you're providing! I've got a Skype interview invite from a Prof at JHU that I had previously contacted and also an email from the Grads Office stating that I would receive that skype/phone interview and the option to do the on-site interview. My question is, if the on-site interview is optional, would my acceptance/rejection be dependent exclusively on the PI interview?

I do want to attend the interview on-site to see the atmosphere and meet other applicants and talk to current graduate students, but they did not mention any funding for the visit on the e-mail, and since I'm an international student, going without anything would be quite taxing. Is it just a question of them giving me the option of not going since I'm international student and they have limited funding? I would be able to cover the rest of the expenses if they fronted part of it.

Also, they offered two weekends, is there any difference in the program of both weekends?

 

 

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7 hours ago, hopefulandconfused said:

Hi Extra Expresso, thank you for all the info you're providing! I've got a Skype interview invite from a Prof at JHU that I had previously contacted and also an email from the Grads Office stating that I would receive that skype/phone interview and the option to do the on-site interview. My question is, if the on-site interview is optional, would my acceptance/rejection be dependent exclusively on the PI interview?

I do want to attend the interview on-site to see the atmosphere and meet other applicants and talk to current graduate students, but they did not mention any funding for the visit on the e-mail, and since I'm an international student, going without anything would be quite taxing. Is it just a question of them giving me the option of not going since I'm international student and they have limited funding? I would be able to cover the rest of the expenses if they fronted part of it.

Also, they offered two weekends, is there any difference in the program of both weekends?

 

 

I do know acceptances are done differently for international students. If you don't do the campus interview, I would assume that your acceptance would be 100% on the PI interview. My guess is that, if you decided to come visit, your travel expenses would be covered up to the amount covered for domestic students, but that's complete conjecture and you'd have to talk to Hong Lan for actual answers. I'm sorry I don't have better information about the travel part  

I do know that we offer all international students the option of using a Skype interview in lieu of an in-person interview because of the travel difficulties, and just doing the Skype interview will not hurt your chances at all! There are several international students in the class who all just did the Skype interview. 

There is no difference between the two interview weekends other than there are a minor few professors who may be available only at one weekend or the other, but that should be indicated on the website. The program doesn't make any acceptance decisions until after the second weekend, so your chances of admission will not be affected by the weekend you choose (I attended the later weekend last year). The activities are all the same as well, so, if you decide to come, just pick the weekend that is more convenient for you! 

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16 hours ago, koab79 said:

I am looking for specifics on the Duke interview going into Friday? Is it just for fit, interview duration, post interview percentages, turnaround time on decisions, etc.... ?

Also is the fact that one attending the 1st of the 3 interview days have any significance on percentages.?

Thanks in advance. 

I don't know duration, percentages, or turnaround time.  The professor recruiting me said that Duke only has direct accepts, meaning a professor has to choose you for their lab.  The department does not have admits with lab rotations etc that other programs have.  If the professor you are interviewing with likes you, he can accept you himself and just needs to fill out the paperwork.  That said, you should be able to ask the professor in your interview what the next steps are and if he will be accepting you.

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14 minutes ago, dbm3252 said:

I don't know duration, percentages, or turnaround time.  The professor recruiting me said that Duke only has direct accepts, meaning a professor has to choose you for their lab.  The department does not have admits with lab rotations etc that other programs have.  If the professor you are interviewing with likes you, he can accept you himself and just needs to fill out the paperwork.  That said, you should be able to ask the professor in your interview what the next steps are and if he will be accepting you.

Pretty cryptic process... all my reconnaissance has only yielded that your chances are pretty good at this point. Just need to let the chips fall where they may. I take it I will see you Friday. Were you selected for tissue or  cell mechanics? 

Edited by koab79

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22 minutes ago, koab79 said:

Pretty cryptic process... all my reconnaissance has only yielded that your chances are pretty good at this point. Just need to let the chips fall where they may. I take it I will see you Friday. Were you selected for tissue or  cell mechanics? 

I am actually going to the interview weekend March 23, as that is what worked best with the professor.  

Cell mechanics, specifically with Dr. Hoffman. 

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10 minutes ago, dbm3252 said:

I am actually going to the interview weekend March 23, as that is what worked best with the professor.  

Cell mechanics, specifically with Dr. Hoffman. 

Cool well good luck!

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Just wanted to chime in and wish everyone good luck! I'm a second year at JHU and I'm really looking forward to meeting all the Hopkins interviewees in February! I do cell and tissue engineering research so let me know if you have questions about that program! I can also answer questions about Baltimore as well if you message me.

Thanks to Extra Espresso for the great info and hope you've remained well-caffeinated through your first year. :)

 

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On 1/16/2017 at 5:42 PM, koab79 said:

I am looking for specifics on the Duke interview going into Friday? Is it just for fit, interview duration, post interview percentages, turnaround time on decisions, etc.... ?

Also is the fact that one attending the 1st of the 3 interview days have any significance on percentages.?

Thanks in advance. 

To my understanding, Duke generally admits directly to a laboratory for BME. More information is outlined on Duke's website - not in the FAQ, but rather in the mentor section (took me a bit to find!) I am unsure about the duration, percentages, etc., but my guess is you have a good chance if the interview with your potential advisor goes well.

As others have stated, I do not think attending a specific interview weekend changes your chance of admission. From previous years it appears there were several scheduling conflicts - both with students interviewing with other schools and faculty only being available certain dates. In all, most schools that interview start to send acceptances for PhD in late Feb or early March (at the earliest).

For those who attended last year (Duke or others schools), could you share your experience with the faculty interviews? Were they more technical questions? or behavioral? or just generally to see if you like the school/program?

Edited by double espresso

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2 hours ago, double espresso said:

For those who attended last year (Duke or others schools), could you share your experience with the faculty interviews? Were they more technical questions? or behavioral? or just generally to see if you like the school/program?

I didn't apply to Duke, but I did attend a bunch of other interviews. My experience was varied depending on the professor. Nearly all of them either had my application in front of them or had read it, so they were at least familiar with my background. Probably about half of my interviews overall were with professors I requested to meet with, and the other half were with professors who had either requested me, were involved in my particular subspecialty, or were in some way involved with admissions.

A lot of the interviews started with them asking about me and my background, so kind of like a 90 second elevator speech. Then, we usually either started talking about their research or mine. Most of them started with questions about my research or wanted me to give a summary of what I had worked on. Some had really specific (sometimes quite difficult) questions about my project, but most were pretty straightforward and just wanted to know what I did and what my results were. For their research, some would just start describing their current projects, some had a particular project they thought I would be interested in, and some asked if I had any questions or specific projects I wanted to talk about. 

I pretty frequently got asked why I applied to XYZ school, what I was looking for in a graduate program, why I was interested in their lab (if I requested them). They always asked if I had any questions. 

The interview style varied a ton based on the professor. Some were like a 30 minute conversation where I never really felt like I was being evaluated. There were a few where I didn't say a darn thing the entire interview and they just talked to me about their work and the program, but this wasn't too frequent. There were also ones where I was asked a lot of specific questions about my research, the techniques we used, why we tried one method over a different one, etc. 

Honestly, most of them were pretty fun! Within BME as a whole, post-interview acceptance rates are high, so you're already past the biggest hurdle if you have an interview. That meant a lot of the professors were predominantly interested in having a conversation and getting a feel of who I was as a scientist and sharing information about their labs. I learned so much from the people I interviewed with and got the chance to hear about some really fascinating projects. Even in labs that I didn't request meetings with, I usually found that their projects were interesting. There was the occasional really tough interview that was nerve-wracking, but most were pretty enjoyable. 

My biggest advice is to go in prepared to discuss your research projects and theirs. For yours, that means refreshing your memory on the goals of the project, the methods you used and why, what your biggest challenges were, and what your results are. This isn't a research defense by any means, but you want to be able to have an intelligent conversation about the work that you've done. For theirs, I recommend reading at least the abstracts on their recent papers. If there is a project you are particularly interested in, read through a couple papers on it. It's best to have a few questions prepared about their research - they don't have to be ridiculously specific, but you should have an idea of what they're doing and why it interests you. 

I'll be honest - with eight interview weekends, I wasn't the best about preparing for each interview ahead of time. If you have the time, definitely read up on the papers from each lab! Just don't make yourself sick with stress if you can't. I did a marathon of straight interviews, and I stressed myself out far too much because I didn't think I was prepared enough when I actually was just fine. 

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I got a skype interview for Minnesota. I'm scared now. Anyone have ideas of what to expect? Are they going to grill me? :(

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With interview weekends overall, have fun! Seriously - it's a chance to visit a new city, hang out with some pretty awesome graduate students (I'm not biased at all), learn about interesting research, and decide if you can see yourself there for five-ish years. Take it seriously because you aren't guaranteed acceptance and it is a professional event, but don't stress yourself out to the point where you're a nervous wreck. 

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7 minutes ago, Extra Espresso said:

With interview weekends overall, have fun! Seriously - it's a chance to visit a new city, hang out with some pretty awesome graduate students (I'm not biased at all), learn about interesting research, and decide if you can see yourself there for five-ish years. Take it seriously because you aren't guaranteed acceptance and it is a professional event, but don't stress yourself out to the point where you're a nervous wreck. 

Thank you for answering the questions.

Is it fair to ask about funding in the interview or should we wait till they offer admission?

Is there a minimum guaranteed funding/stipend for JHU? I ask this because Berkeley/UCSF and Stanford have their minimum stipend posted on their websites.

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8 minutes ago, Neuronophil said:

Thank you for answering the questions.

Is it fair to ask about funding in the interview or should we wait till they offer admission?

Is there a minimum guaranteed funding/stipend for JHU? I ask this because Berkeley/UCSF and Stanford have their minimum stipend posted on their websites.

In the BME PhD Guidelines available on their website, they list "about 30k" for stipend, plus they cover insurance. I attached the 2 pages that deal with the stipend here.  The full file is on their website and has lots of other info that I found helpful.

Biomedical Engineering PhD Guidelines.pdf

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42 minutes ago, Neuronophil said:

Thank you for answering the questions.

Is it fair to ask about funding in the interview or should we wait till they offer admission?

Is there a minimum guaranteed funding/stipend for JHU? I ask this because Berkeley/UCSF and Stanford have their minimum stipend posted on their websites.

I don't know what the standard stipend will be for the incoming class, but it will be in the about 30K range. Everyone offered admission into the PhD program will be offered that stipend, full tuition coverage, and health and dental insurance. If you are offered acceptance, your acceptance letter will have the exact stipend amount you are being offered. 

I believe Hopkins was just slightly less than Stanford/MIT, but that was more than made up for by the cost of living difference (Baltimore is a much cheaper city to live in than SF/Palo Alto). 

I wouldn't ask about funding in the interview just because you will have guaranteed funding with your acceptance. If you do have funding questions, Hong is the best person to ask since she will know much more than individual professors will about that. If you want to know if a professor will have funding to take on new students, that is a fair interview question (although I'd phrase it more along the lines of just asking them if they are taking students). The professors are required to fund the standard stipend if they take you into their lab. 

I will say I don't know how it works for international students, but Hong should be able to answer any questions you have about that. 

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3 hours ago, dbm3252 said:

In the BME PhD Guidelines available on their website, they list "about 30k" for stipend, plus they cover insurance. I attached the 2 pages that deal with the stipend here.  The full file is on their website and has lots of other info that I found helpful.

Biomedical Engineering PhD Guidelines.pdf

 

2 hours ago, Extra Espresso said:

I don't know what the standard stipend will be for the incoming class, but it will be in the about 30K range. Everyone offered admission into the PhD program will be offered that stipend, full tuition coverage, and health and dental insurance. If you are offered acceptance, your acceptance letter will have the exact stipend amount you are being offered. 

I believe Hopkins was just slightly less than Stanford/MIT, but that was more than made up for by the cost of living difference (Baltimore is a much cheaper city to live in than SF/Palo Alto). 

I wouldn't ask about funding in the interview just because you will have guaranteed funding with your acceptance. If you do have funding questions, Hong is the best person to ask since she will know much more than individual professors will about that. If you want to know if a professor will have funding to take on new students, that is a fair interview question (although I'd phrase it more along the lines of just asking them if they are taking students). The professors are required to fund the standard stipend if they take you into their lab. 

I will say I don't know how it works for international students, but Hong should be able to answer any questions you have about that. 

Thank you for your thorough responses. I mostly meant asking about funding from program staff rather than the professors. I think the rule of thumb is that most of these schools keep it close to NSF fellowship as the benchmark with a little adjustment for the local cost of living.

 

1 hour ago, jojopishi said:

I am invited to visit Northwestern Uni.  is it interview? 

Yes if it says they have invited to regarding your PhD application.

Congrats!

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5 hours ago, Extra Espresso said:

I'll be honest - with eight interview weekends, I wasn't the best about preparing for each interview ahead of time. If you have the time, definitely read up on the papers from each lab! Just don't make yourself sick with stress if you can't. I did a marathon of straight interviews, and I stressed myself out far too much because I didn't think I was prepared enough when I actually was just fine. 

Hey, saw this bit and was wondering if you have any opinions about doing that many interviews! I applied ChemE also so a lot of mine are visitation weekends and not interviews, but I'm approaching that number and am starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Why did you go for all of them, and do you recommend it or do you suggest trying to filter some out beforehand?

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1 hour ago, skbts said:

Hey, saw this bit and was wondering if you have any opinions about doing that many interviews! I applied ChemE also so a lot of mine are visitation weekends and not interviews, but I'm approaching that number and am starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Why did you go for all of them, and do you recommend it or do you suggest trying to filter some out beforehand?

Last year, I did nine interview weekends and I agree with Extra Expresso, there is simply not enough time to recover between weekends because by the time you are home and settled for a day, you need to start preparing for the next weekend. Personally, I would filter out places once you find one or two places that seem like a really good fit. I went to all of them because I didn't want to leave any stones un-turned and didn't want to have any regrets about the process. As mentioned above, the weekends are a lot of fun so just enjoy them!

 

4 hours ago, jojopishi said:

I am invited to visit Northwestern Uni.  is it interview? 

Northwestern's weekend is an interview, but it felt more like a recruitment weekend (not sure on acceptance rates, etc.). The interviews themselves were somewhat casual, only 2/5 interviews were with faculty...at least in the drug delivery/tissue engineering area.

 

7 hours ago, WhyTry said:

I got a skype interview for Minnesota. I'm scared now. Anyone have ideas of what to expect? Are they going to grill me? :(

Minnesota's skype interview isn't a technical interview. My interviewer briefly asked me about my research experiences, then proceeded to ask a series of questions regarding why PhD, why Minnesota, what are your research interests, etc. I wouldn't sweat the interview, good luck!

 

 

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10 hours ago, Tecumseh30 said:

Last year, I did nine interview weekends and I agree with Extra Expresso, there is simply not enough time to recover between weekends because by the time you are home and settled for a day, you need to start preparing for the next weekend. Personally, I would filter out places once you find one or two places that seem like a really good fit. I went to all of them because I didn't want to leave any stones un-turned and didn't want to have any regrets about the process. As mentioned above, the weekends are a lot of fun so just enjoy them!

Yeah, I have that same impulse right now because I feel like I don't have any more information now than when I applied, so it's hard to decide which ones to give up on. If you had to pick in retrospect, which ones do you wish you hadn't gone to (more like, how would you decide retrospectively which ones might not have been worth the time?) Do you feel like your feelings and impressions about schools before the interviews mostly turned out to be justified?

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