blc073

2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

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The 2018 application cycle begins in a couple of months, so I thought it would be nice to start a new profiles and results thread. As is tradition, I am copying the 2017 thread for consistency. Use the following template to enter your information, before and after you obtain your results, and remember to submit your results at the end of the cycle for posterity and to help the next cohort of applicants HERE.  Good luck with the application process, and remember to ask questions! 

Below are some useful links: 

Ask questions about the PhD application process!

2017 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

2016 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

 

Undergrad Institution: (School or type of school, such as big state, lib arts, ivy, technical, foreign (what country?)... Overall Reputation in Biology?)
Major(s):
Minor(s):
GPA in Major:
Overall GPA:
Position in Class: (No numbers needed, but are you top? near top? average? struggling?)
Type of Student: (Domestic/International, male/female, minority?)

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q:
V:
W:
B:


TOEFL Total: (if applicable, otherwise delete this)

Research Experience: (At your school or elsewhere? What field? How much time? Any publications (Mth author out of N?) or conference talks etc...)

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?)

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...)

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:

School - Department - Research Interest
School - Department - Research Interest
School - Department - Research Interest

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Can anyone advise on my list for neuroscience PhD programs Fall 2018? Too ambitious for my resume? Plan on trimming a couple of the programs. Looking to do neuroimmune research. 

 

Undergrad Institution: University of Maryland
Major(s): General Biology
Minor(s): Neuroscience
GPA in Major: 3.3 (so) to 3.5 (ju) to 3.8 (se)
Overall GPA: 3.40; 3.60 upperclassmen 
Position in Class: N/A
Type of Student: domestic, caucasian male 

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 161 (80%)
V: 158 (78%)
W: 4 (60%)

Research Experience: 

2 years as a volunteer/class credit at a neuroplasticity lab on campus.

Intern for summer at AstraZeneca subsidiary doing autoimmune research (1 publication non first author, in Science translational med, another submitted). Continued part time for senior year of college.

1+ year (currently employed) as a full time research assistant in a neuroimmunology lab at University of Texas MD anderson cancer center, with 3 very well-known/cited PIs in neuroimmunology. (1 publication currently, 2 more in prep. 2 more posters/abstracts). 

 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

See experience.


Special Bonus Points: 
 

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
Will be getting a very strong letter of rec from my internship, and then 3 from my current job (one from a PI whose name will carry weight in PNI community, 2 from Post docs who I work closely with daily and should write glowing reviews)

 

Applying to Where:

Ohio State University

University of Pennsylvania

Illionois Urbana

Oregon Health and Science University

Miami University 

University of Chicago

Georgetown University

Columbia University

West Virginia University

 

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@Philsgross 

Your numbers and experience look great! I think you have a good shot at all the schools you listed. You could maybe even add more top tier programs. I know Harvard has a great neuroscience program. I've also heard great things about the UC schools (Berkeley and SF, in particular).

Your admissions will come down to your SOP and your LORs. If you can really talk about your research in your essays and have LORs that support what you write, you should be set. 

I will say, I am concerned about having LORs from post-docs. Typically, you will receive a single LOR from a lab, with each post-doc with whom you worked giving input and the PI submitting the letter. Do you have another LOR you could submit in lieu of the two post-docs? 

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10 hours ago, blc073 said:

@Philsgross 

Your numbers and experience look great! I think you have a good shot at all the schools you listed. You could maybe even add more top tier programs. I know Harvard has a great neuroscience program. I've also heard great things about the UC schools (Berkeley and SF, in particular).

Your admissions will come down to your SOP and your LORs. If you can really talk about your research in your essays and have LORs that support what you write, you should be set. 

I will say, I am concerned about having LORs from post-docs. Typically, you will receive a single LOR from a lab, with each post-doc with whom you worked giving input and the PI submitting the letter. Do you have another LOR you could submit in lieu of the two post-docs? 

Thanks! One post doc is technically an "Instructor" now on faculty, and one of the post-docs is an MD-PhD if that makes a difference. I can get a letter or two from elsewhere (past professors), but I don't think they'd be able to speak as much about my ability as a future scientist. Would it not be better to have a great letter from them or a decent one from a past professor? 

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Undergrad Institution: Top state school in California 
Major(s): Biochemistry
Minor(s): NA
GPA in Major: 3.93
Overall GPA: 3.94
Position in Class: top 5%
Type of Student: domestic, white male

GRE Scores:
practice test (hoping to improve before I take for real in September)

V: 155

Q: 160

W: 4

Research Experience: 

Amgen Scholar at UCLA for the summer in cancer biology and metabolism. 

Two years at my home institution in natural products chemistry.  

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

Undergraduate Research Award - American Society of Pharmacognosy

Outstanding First Year Biochemistry Student and Award in Computational Chemistry (home institution) 

Chemistry Faculty Scholarship at my home institution

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

RA for two years.

TA for general chemistry (multiple quarters)

Grader for biochemistry 

Special Bonus Points: 

 I'm trilingual. 

3 poster presentations

1 oral presentation

Possible publication in Cell depending on how the summer wraps up. (PI is pretty confident!)

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
Letter of rec from UCLA mentor in Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology

Two letters of rec from home institution (one of them is my research advisor; she did her Postdoc at Stanford if that means anything)

Applying to Where:

Stanford - Biosciences - Cancer Biology

UCSF - BMS - Cancer Biology

UCLA - Biosciences - Cancer biology 

UCSD -  Cancer Biology

Vanderbilt IGP - Cancer Biology

University of Arizona - Cancer Biology

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I am quite nervous for applying this year! First time, ahh! I need some help deciding whether the schools I am applying to are too much of a reach. My GPA is my only low point but I have attempted to mitigate it with my GRE and post-bacc classes I took at the graduate level with incoming first years at my uni. 

Undergrad Institution: Big 10 School
Major(s): Bio with Neuro emphasis 
Overall GPA: 3.22 (last 2 semesters 4.0, struggled first 2 years with straight 3.0-3.2 f-jr) 
Type of Student: domestic, white woman

GRE Scores:

V: 164

Q: 162

W: 6

Research Experience: 

3 years undergrad + 3 years as an RA

Main labs: 1) In vivo ephys - worked for 1y during undergrad and 3y after getting experience. Have 2 papers and 2 poster presentations from work in this lab. Ephys is slow going but I have 3 projects I'm working on right now. Presenting at SfN this year and also did last year. Basically operate as a graduate student independently running the lab (I have no postdocs or grad students to help me, but I have trained previous postdocs in ephys so I am confident in my abilities). Also my PIs are ridiculously famous in their field. 

2) Human cog neuro lab doing TMS/EEG. One paper from this lab, middle author, just volunteered my time to this lab because I loved the mentorship from this PI. 

3) also worked in an epigenetics lab for 2 years where I learned a ton of molecular skills, but no papers came out of this, as it was my first gig! 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

Deans List 2 semesters? No other awards, my PI told me not to focus on getting money which I really regret.

I may go to a Gordon Conference next year but that is still up in the air. 


Special Bonus Points: 

 - Already took intro Neuro courses at the grad level and got As in all courses.

- 3 papers total, 2 posters total at SfN (national conference)

- Working on 3 projects that are 'in prep' and will be wrapping up by the time I am finished applying

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
3 glowing LORs, 2 from very famous PIs who love to network, 1 from someone who can comment extensively on my ability to design experiments, read papers, discuss science, and troubleshoot electrophysiology. 

Applying to Where:

(All Neuroscience): 

UCSD

Stanford

UCSF

UC Davis

UC Berkeley

U Penn

UNC 

Emory

Columbia

NYU

 

   0
Edited by somino42

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2 hours ago, somino42 said:

I am quite nervous for applying this year! First time, ahh! I need some help deciding whether the schools I am applying to are too much of a reach. My GPA is my only low point but I have attempted to mitigate it with my GRE and post-bacc classes I took at the graduate level with incoming first years at my uni. 

Undergrad Institution: Big 10 School
Major(s): Bio with Neuro emphasis 
Overall GPA: 3.22 (last 2 semesters 4.0, struggled first 2 years with straight 3.0-3.2 f-jr) 
Type of Student: domestic, white woman
 

5

Your situation is pretty similar to mine. I also have a relatively low GPA but great research experience. I run my own division in a lab independently and have published as first author. Also have the glowing LORs from famous PIs yadda yadda. I'm not applying this season, but honestly in my experience (and according to all the advice I've received thus far), what you offer in terms of research experience, publication record and dedication to research is way more valuable than someone with a high GPA and "decent" research experience (i.e. most applicants). I'm not in neuroscience so my perspective may not be the best suited here, but I think you have a decently balanced list of schools, maybe leaning towards the more competitive end.

Knock that SOP out of the park and you stand a great chance. 

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Hi All,

I am a bit nervous about my application as I will have only worked in a chem lab and I want to go into Biochemistry or Biological sciences. I'm not sure if this will be a disadvantage for my application. I am planning on taking my GREs again in October, so hopefully that should go up. 

Undergrad Institution: Marymount University (small lib arts private school)
Major(s): Biochemistry (Honors Program)
GPA in Major: 3.7
Overall GPA: 3.6
Type of Student:  Domestic, female, minority (asian)

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 158
V: 152
W: 4

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Biochemistry Academic Excellence, 2016, Deans List 7/8 semesters

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Research assistant for a clinical research institute and my Honors thesis was based on Bioethics.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Currently working in a government analytical chemistry lab for a year now and I am working on a project that will possibly published. Will get recommendation from supervisor, previous supervisor, and previous professor.

Applying to Where:
Indiana University (Indianapolis)

UC Davis (top 3)

NYU (top 3 / would like to go here and do their Global PhD)

University of Florida

Uni of Oregon

Schools I am not sure about:

University of Southern California

Wakeforest

UC San Diego

Emory 

Are there any other schools I should be looking into with my stats and experience? Any feedback for the schools listed? If anyone knows anything about the two different program Indiana offers, in Bloomington and Indianapolis, can you please explain the major differences with the programs? Also, any additional feedback is welcome. Thanks! 

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Hi! 

Here is my profile for Fall 2018 applications. Could any of you kindly comment on my chances at the univs/grad schools I am looking at ? 

Undergrad Institution: Regionally well known Undergrad school
Major(s): Biotechnology 
Minor(s):
GPA in Major: 3.85
Overall GPA: 3.85
Position in Class: (Near Top)
Type of Student: International

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 158
V: 155
W: 3.5

Masters Univ : National University of Singapore (NUS) 

Masters GPA: 3.5

Masters Field: Biological Sciences - Molecular biology 


TOEFL Total: 111 (expired) 

Research Experience: 1) As an undergraduate conducted 2 summer research projects of 2-3 months each

2) Presented up to 4 Posters at National and international level conferences 

3) Volunteered for 2 international conferences including the Asia pacific organisation for cell biology (APOCB) 

4) worked in an Assay development (Pharmacokinetics lab) for period of 4months in a reputed bio-pharmaceutical company 

5) Have a first author paper (PLoS ONE) published, and a 3rd author paper accepted into JCS. 

6) Overall research experience ~4 years

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Secured full scholarship at NUS towards grad school. 

2nD prize for a poster presentation. 

Also was awarded a National level fellowship by the Indian Government. 

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Taught lab courses in molecular biology and biochemistry for undergraduates at NUS. Served as a Teaching Assistant. 

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: None 
Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: None

Applying to Where:
I am looking for program in Biochemistry, cell, and molecular biology. Currently deciding among the following schools.

1) Ohio State Uni 

2) Indiana Bloomington

3) Penn State

4) UCLA

5) Univ Illinois Urbana

6) Cornell Uni

7) NYU 

8) U Mich ann arbor

9) Baylor coll of Med

10) UCSD 

11) UC Davis 

12) Uni Colorado Boulder 

13) UT Southwestern 

14) UT Austin

15) Vanderbilt 

 

 

Edited by PhDornothing

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Undergrad Institution: A "public ivy" in California
Major(s): Neurobiology
Minor(s): Professional Writing
GPA in Major: 3.2
Overall GPA: 3.4
Position in Class: N/A
Type of Student: domestic, white female

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 159 - 73rd percentile
V: 162 - 91st percentile
AW: 4.5 - 82nd percentile

 

Research Experience: 

4 years, 3 labs:
2 summers and the past year in a neuroscience/stem cell lab with a world renowned stem cell scientist
2 years in college at my undergrad university in developmental neuroscience/biochemistry - included a mini-thesis project
3 months at the NIH in a neurogenetics lab

 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

Community Service Award


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

1 year at a KO mouse core
2.5ish years internship translating scientific journal articles about contraception and writing a layman's chapter about it for an author writing a book

I don't know about pertinent, but...
3 years volunteer at a homeless shelter (exposure to mental illness)


Special Bonus Points: 

3 publications so far, 1 as second author. Expect another 2-3 in the next year or so, possibly a first author publication.

Presented a poster at an undergraduate research conference and will be presenting another poster at SfN this year.

My current PI will definitely write me a killer letter of rec.

I'm trying to apply for fellowships but who knows.
 

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
I have 5-7 people who I could have write a letter of rec - not sure who I'll ask yet. Mixture of professors and PIs.

My GPA isn't great, but it greatly improved during my last 2 years (straight A's my last year).

 

Applying to Where:

Northwestern

University of Washington

University of Pennsylvania

Boston University

Brandeis University

University of Pittsburgh

University of Virginia

UCSD

It's really a tentative list, I'm still looking, but these schools have programs and people with whom I'd like to work (looking to do neurodegenerative disease research)

 

How screwed am I?

Edited by BabyScientist

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I am an international student with lots of research potential but poor grades. Would like some input on my competitiveness before taking the GRE. Trying to decide is I should apply to US schools or focus on Canadian. 

Undergrad Institution: University of Western Ontario (Pretty good Canadian research University)
Major(s):  Biology with a specialization in Genetics 
Minor(s): Immunology and Microbiology 
GPA in Major:  3.3/4.0
Overall GPA: 2.8/4.0
Position in Class: We don't do position, but on deans donor list in 4th year
Type of Student: International, Female 

GRE Scores (revised/old version): Haven't taken yet 
Q:
V:
W:
B:


Research Experience: 

Current Masters student in Biology, co-supervised in Medical Biophysics. 

Medical Biophysics Lab Assistant (September 2015 – August 2016)
Honours Thesis Project in biology (September 2015 – May 2016)
- NSERC – USRA (paid research grant in Biology) (May 2015 – August 2015)
Animal Physiology Lab Assistant (June 2014 – April 2015)
Immunology Lab Assistant (May 2013 – April 2014)

Publications:
- 1 first author published, 1 first author in review, 1 first author in progress 

Conferences:
- 3 International (poster), 3 National (1 poster with award, 2 oral), 1 Provincia (oral) l and 2 local (oral, both with awards)

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 
- None 

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 
- TA in 2 courses (both Biology)
- Lots of volunteer work in mental health and crisis intervention 
- On undergraduate education committee for our society of Graduate students 


Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)
- Grad courses: Introduction to Medical Biophysics (3.9/4.0) and Developmental Biology 


Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:
Hoping to continue a joint biology/medical biophysics type program. I am interested in using imaging to detect fetal fat development, but flexible with research interests. 


Harvard - BBS
Columbia - Joint Biology and biophysics

Johns Hopkins - BCMB and CMDP

Any input would be great!

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On 7/21/2017 at 5:28 AM, ThinkA said:

I am an international student with lots of research potential but poor grades. Would like some input on my competitiveness before taking the GRE. Trying to decide is I should apply to US schools or focus on Canadian. 

Undergrad Institution: University of Western Ontario (Pretty good Canadian research University)
Major(s):  Biology with a specialization in Genetics 
Minor(s): Immunology and Microbiology 
GPA in Major:  3.3/4.0
Overall GPA: 2.8/4.0
Position in Class: We don't do position, but on deans donor list in 4th year
Type of Student: International, Female 

GRE Scores (revised/old version): Haven't taken yet 
Q:
V:
W:
B:


Research Experience: 

Current Masters student in Biology, co-supervised in Medical Biophysics. 

Medical Biophysics Lab Assistant (September 2015 – August 2016)
Honours Thesis Project in biology (September 2015 – May 2016)
- NSERC – USRA (paid research grant in Biology) (May 2015 – August 2015)
Animal Physiology Lab Assistant (June 2014 – April 2015)
Immunology Lab Assistant (May 2013 – April 2014)

Publications:
- 1 first author published, 1 first author in review, 1 first author in progress 

Conferences:
- 3 International (poster), 3 National (1 poster with award, 2 oral), 1 Provincia (oral) l and 2 local (oral, both with awards)

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 
- None 

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 
- TA in 2 courses (both Biology)
- Lots of volunteer work in mental health and crisis intervention 
- On undergraduate education committee for our society of Graduate students 


Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)
- Grad courses: Introduction to Medical Biophysics (3.9/4.0) and Developmental Biology 


Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:
Hoping to continue a joint biology/medical biophysics type program. I am interested in using imaging to detect fetal fat development, but flexible with research interests. 


Harvard - BBS
Columbia - Joint Biology and biophysics

Johns Hopkins - BCMB and CMDP

Any input would be great!

I think you should look into applying to some lower tier schools. Your research experience is impressive, but I've heard that schools like Harvard, etc filter out people with less than a certain GPA (3.5, I think) before even looking at the rest of the application.

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On 7/23/2017 at 10:45 PM, BabyScientist said:

I think you should look into applying to some lower tier schools. Your research experience is impressive, but I've heard that schools like Harvard, etc filter out people with less than a certain GPA (3.5, I think) before even looking at the rest of the application.

@BabyScientist While top schools like Harvard do tend to admit students with relatively high GPAs, there's never a GPA cutoff unless it is clearly stated on their website/application. Grades are almost always secondary to research experience and LORs. 

@ThinkA Your research experience, publication record, TAship and graduate course experience are attractive to many graduate programs and prove that you can thrive in a Ph.D. environment despite your undergraduate GPA. Study hard for that GRE so that the only blemish on your application is your transcript.

That said, it would serve you well to look at some lower-tier schools. With just three schools on your list (all extremely competitive) you're at great risk for disappointment this cycle.  

Also, although it's not exactly a "lower tier" school, NYU Sackler has a great biophysics program. 

Good luck!

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I'm a current research technician (have been for the past 6 years) at a medical/research institution interested in applying for Biomedical PhD programs for Fall 2018.  I have a lot of different research experiences, and while I've enjoyed them all, the ones that have impacted me the most is the stem cell biology research I've done, and the clinical/translational science research I'm currently doing.  I think I have a decent profile, but I'm concerned about my GRE scores.  I've taken the GRE 3 times already and I can't seem to dramatically increase my scores... and this has inevitably lead to crippling anxiety and panic attacks while I take them, which I think is negatively affecting them.  Therefore, due to costs and anxiety, I'm not planning to retake them.  I'm *hoping* that I'm still a good candidate regardless.

Undergrad Institution: Small state school
Major(s): Honors Biology/Psychology double major
Minor(s):  none
GPA in Major:  Unsure
Overall GPA:  3.67/4.0
Position in Class: Don't really have this
Type of Student: Domestic Female

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q:  47%
V:  55%
W:  93%  (I don't know how I managed this)
B:  Didn't take


Research Experience: 

- 2 years undergraduate researcher in behavioral neuroscience

- 1.5 year (+ one summer internship) undergraduate honors thesis in developmental biology laboratory.  Resulted in a middle author publication with other undergraduate students.  Presented a poster at two national conferences and one regional conference.

- 2 years full-time clinical testing and flu assay development laboratory, though I did primarily clinical testing for the laboratory

- 2 years full-time stem cell biology.  Resulted in a middle author publication in good impact journal

- 3 months full-time assay research and development for start up biotech company.  Wasn't a good fit due to lack of management/company stability

- 1.5 years currently full-time basic and translational research.  Have 1 first co-author paper in submission.  Presented a poster at a regional conference.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

- Dean's list during undergrad

- Graduated with magna cum laude honors

- Completed undergraduate honors thesis

- Wrote two fully-funded undergraduate grants for my undergraduate honors thesis

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

- Tutored statistics, biology, and psychology courses during undergrad

- laboratory TA for one semester

- Judged science fair posters for a couple years during undergrad

- Mentored elementary STEM students on their science fair projects last year

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:  

Special Bonus Points: 

- Great LoRs from well-regarded faculty

- one LoR writer has connections to the adcomms for two programs I'm applying to

- one LoR writer has connections to faculty at one of the programs I'm applying to

- I've been employed as a research technician at one institution I am applying to for the past 5-6 years

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:

Medical College of Wisconsin - IDP

Madison - Molecular Cellular Pharmacology

UIC - GEMS

Northwestern - DGP

Minnesota - MCDB&G

Cincinnati - Molecular and Developmental Biology

Case Western - Biomedical Science Training Program

UIUC - Cell and Developmental Biology

 

I know a couple of these programs are way out of my league.  I feel like I need more lower tier schools.  Anyone have any ideas?  I'm somewhat restricted to the midwest.  Or do you think this is a good spread based on my profile?  I'm looking for institutions that have good stem cell research and, ideally, a translational option to the program as well.

 

Edited by StemCellFan

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23 hours ago, StemCellFan said:

I'm a current research technician (have been for the past 6 years) at a medical/research institution interested in applying for Biomedical PhD programs for Fall 2018.  I have a lot of different research experiences, and while I've enjoyed them all, the ones that have impacted me the most is the stem cell biology research I've done, and the clinical/translational science research I'm currently doing.  I think I have a decent profile, but I'm concerned about my GRE scores.  I've taken the GRE 3 times already and I can't seem to dramatically increase my scores... and this has inevitably lead to crippling anxiety and panic attacks while I take them, which I think is negatively affecting them.  Therefore, due to costs and anxiety, I'm not planning to retake them.  I'm *hoping* that I'm still a good candidate regardless.

Undergrad Institution: Small state school
Major(s): Honors Biology/Psychology double major
Minor(s):  none
GPA in Major:  Unsure
Overall GPA:  3.67/4.0
Position in Class: Don't really have this
Type of Student: Domestic Female

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q:  47%
V:  55%
W:  93%  (I don't know how I managed this)
B:  Didn't take


Research Experience: 

- 2 years undergraduate researcher in behavioral neuroscience

- 1.5 year (+ one summer internship) undergraduate honors thesis in developmental biology laboratory.  Resulted in a middle author publication with other undergraduate students.  Presented a poster at two national conferences and one regional conference.

- 2 years full-time clinical testing and flu assay development laboratory, though I did primarily clinical testing for the laboratory

- 2 years full-time stem cell biology.  Resulted in a middle author publication in good impact journal

- 3 months full-time assay research and development for start up biotech company.  Wasn't a good fit due to lack of management/company stability

- 1.5 years currently full-time basic and translational research.  Have 1 first co-author paper in submission.  Presented a poster at a regional conference.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

- Dean's list during undergrad

- Graduated with magna cum laude honors

- Completed undergraduate honors thesis

- Wrote two fully-funded undergraduate grants for my undergraduate honors thesis

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

- Tutored statistics, biology, and psychology courses during undergrad

- laboratory TA for one semester

- Judged science fair posters for a couple years during undergrad

- Mentored elementary STEM students on their science fair projects last year

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:  

Special Bonus Points: 

- Great LoRs from well-regarded faculty

- one LoR writer has connections to the adcomms for two programs I'm applying to

- one LoR writer has connections to faculty at one of the programs I'm applying to

- I've been employed as a research technician at one institution I am applying to for the past 5-6 years

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:

Medical College of Wisconsin - IDP

Madison - Molecular Cellular Pharmacology

UIC - GEMS

Northwestern - DGP

Minnesota - MCDB&G

Cincinnati - Molecular and Developmental Biology

Case Western - Biomedical Science Training Program

UIUC - Cell and Developmental Biology

 

I know a couple of these programs are way out of my league.  I feel like I need more lower tier schools.  Anyone have any ideas?  I'm somewhat restricted to the midwest.  Or do you think this is a good spread based on my profile?  I'm looking for institutions that have good stem cell research and, ideally, a translational option to the program as well.

 

Would it be possible to take a subject test? That might alleviate the impact of your lower scores. I think you have a LOT of research experience and a good GPA, but I don't know the impact a GRE that low could have on your chances. Have you checked the websites to ensure that they don't have minimums? Not a lot of schools do, but it's always good to be safe. 

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On 7/21/2017 at 8:28 AM, ThinkA said:

I am an international student with lots of research potential but poor grades. Would like some input on my competitiveness before taking the GRE. Trying to decide is I should apply to US schools or focus on Canadian. 

Undergrad Institution: University of Western Ontario (Pretty good Canadian research University)
Major(s):  Biology with a specialization in Genetics 
Minor(s): Immunology and Microbiology 
GPA in Major:  3.3/4.0
Overall GPA: 2.8/4.0
Position in Class: We don't do position, but on deans donor list in 4th year
Type of Student: International, Female 

GRE Scores (revised/old version): Haven't taken yet 
Q:
V:
W:
B:


Research Experience: 

Current Masters student in Biology, co-supervised in Medical Biophysics. 

Medical Biophysics Lab Assistant (September 2015 – August 2016)
Honours Thesis Project in biology (September 2015 – May 2016)
- NSERC – USRA (paid research grant in Biology) (May 2015 – August 2015)
Animal Physiology Lab Assistant (June 2014 – April 2015)
Immunology Lab Assistant (May 2013 – April 2014)

Publications:
- 1 first author published, 1 first author in review, 1 first author in progress 

Conferences:
- 3 International (poster), 3 National (1 poster with award, 2 oral), 1 Provincia (oral) l and 2 local (oral, both with awards)

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 
- None 

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 
- TA in 2 courses (both Biology)
- Lots of volunteer work in mental health and crisis intervention 
- On undergraduate education committee for our society of Graduate students 


Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)
- Grad courses: Introduction to Medical Biophysics (3.9/4.0) and Developmental Biology 


Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:
Hoping to continue a joint biology/medical biophysics type program. I am interested in using imaging to detect fetal fat development, but flexible with research interests. 


Harvard - BBS
Columbia - Joint Biology and biophysics

Johns Hopkins - BCMB and CMDP

Any input would be great!

I agree with @whybanana. Though your research experience is pretty decent, I would expand the list of schools you are applying to. As an international student, the competition might be more intense and your GPA will not go unnoticed--even though there are no actual minimums. 

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1 hour ago, Bioenchilada said:

Would it be possible to take a subject test? That might alleviate the impact of your lower scores. I think you have a LOT of research experience and a good GPA, but I don't know the impact a GRE that low could have on your chances. Have you checked the websites to ensure that they don't have minimums? Not a lot of schools do, but it's always good to be safe. 

I took the Biology GRE subject test 4 or 5 years ago and scored 87% for cell and molecular biology, and 76% overall.  I don't know if that test would still be good for this application cycle or if I should retake it.  I don't even know if 87% is all that impressive to adcomms.  Most of the schools I looked at don't have any strict GRE cut offs.  Minnesota mentioned that applicants should retake the GRE if it's not at or above the 70th percentile (which is the average of their competitive applicants).  Most other places either don't mention averages at all, or when they do, they preface it with how important research experience is to the committee.  But none of them have explicitly said they won't look at an application if the scores aren't above a certain percentile... though I could always call and ask, too.

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37 minutes ago, StemCellFan said:

I took the Biology GRE subject test 4 or 5 years ago and scored 87% for cell and molecular biology, and 76% overall.  I don't know if that test would still be good for this application cycle or if I should retake it.  I don't even know if 87% is all that impressive to adcomms.  Most of the schools I looked at don't have any strict GRE cut offs.  Minnesota mentioned that applicants should retake the GRE if it's not at or above the 70th percentile (which is the average of their competitive applicants).  Most other places either don't mention averages at all, or when they do, they preface it with how important research experience is to the committee.  But none of them have explicitly said they won't look at an application if the scores aren't above a certain percentile... though I could always call and ask, too.

A school official will probably not tell you that you should not apply if your GRE is too low. I think Cornell's advice is very useful as a guideline though: "Admissions Committees generally look for a combined Verbal and Quantitative score of 308.  If your scores are slightly lower, don’t panic; you still may be considered for admission based on strengths in other areas of your application"

They also state that a 50th percentile should be the bare minimum for each part. What resources have you used to study? Have you taken a GRE prep course in the past? 

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Undergrad Institution: Rutgers New Brunswick
Major(s): Cell Biology and Neuroscience
Minor(s): Chemistry
GPA in Major: 3.80
Overall GPA: 3.86
Position in Class: Not sure. Phi Beta Kappa elected twice (didn't join tho)
Type of Student: International Asian Female

GRE Scores (revised/old version): (Will take in Sept. Quite nervous in verbal and writing. Study hard rn.)
Q:
V:
W:
B:


Research Experience: (At your school or elsewhere? What field? How much time? Any publications (Mth author out of N?) or conference talks etc...)

I am super nervous about applying in this cycle because I don't really have much research experience. I've been working in a lab at my undergrad institution since this July. Project is focusing on iPSCs modeling neurological diseases. 

Produced a project proposal regarding Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis for the course Scientific Writing. 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?)

Academic Excellence Award 2015: Honored for having maintained the highest standards of academic excellence of the top 10% of the second year class

Elected to Phi Beta Kappa 2016 & 2017

Graduated summa cum laude

Dean's List all semesters


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...)

Ophthalmic Assistant in an ophthalmologist's office - half an year

Lab instructor/teaching assistant for general chemistry lab at undergrad institution for two academic semesters

Shadowed at department of medicine in summer 2016

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:

Stanford - Stem cell bio & regeneration/cancer bio/epidemiology 

Columbia 

U Penn

University of Washington

 

Any suggestion if I should apply this year? Because my GPA is not quite competitive and research experience is lacking. Am I aiming too high for those schools also? T.T

Edited by Xerxxx

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I am currently a research technician in a virology lab and looking to apply to grad schools for virology (this is usually within a cell/molecular bio or microbio program.) Would love to hear if my list of schools are good choices for virology research/ how strong of an applicant I would be!

Undergrad Institution: Big Ten, top research university, strong microbio reputation

Major(s): Biology, French

Minor(s): Global Cultures

GPA in Major: not sure… I had great grades in biology electives but struggled with organic chemistry

Overall GPA: 3.73

Position in Class: Top 20%

Type of Student: Female domestic

GRE Scores (revised/old version): taking later this month

Q:

V:

W:

B:

Research Experience:

  • 1.5 years genetics research characterizing a drosophila gene family (well known PI, see below). Worked part-time during the school year and full time during the summer. Two poster presentations at my university. There was talk of working on a manuscript but since I (as well as my mentor) left the lab not much has materialized.
  • 1.5 years (by time of app) virology research ( well known PI in virology field). One semester part time, 1 year full time. Two poster presentations; one for the university and one for the private research institute at which we are based.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions:

Graduated with Distinction (top 20% of class)

Dean's list 3/7 semesters

Germaine Mercier scholarship (not relevant, it's from the French department)

Member of the American Society for Virology (attended ASV'17 but didn't present)

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

graduated a semester work full time on research

Special Bonus Points:

  • One of my recommenders is extremely well known in his field (evolution/ genetics) and to the greater science community
  • My current PI is well known/regarded in the virology field

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Worried about two things, if anyone has input:

I took a semester off of research between labs to study abroad (for my French major)

I got C's in both semester of organic chemistry ( I plan to address in personal statement)

Applying to Where: I have 13 schools on the list right now and would like to narrow down to maximum 10. I tried to have a range of schools in terms of prestige.

Harvard -DMS Virology

Yale -BBS

UCSF -BMS

Rockefeller

Mount Sinai

U Penn -CAMB

Northwestern -DGP

University of Washington

University of Michigan

University of Maryland

Boston University

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Oregon Health and Science University

Edited by virology_2018

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On 7/26/2017 at 0:58 PM, Bioenchilada said:

A school official will probably not tell you that you should not apply if your GRE is too low. I think Cornell's advice is very useful as a guideline though: "Admissions Committees generally look for a combined Verbal and Quantitative score of 308.  If your scores are slightly lower, don’t panic; you still may be considered for admission based on strengths in other areas of your application"

They also state that a 50th percentile should be the bare minimum for each part. What resources have you used to study? Have you taken a GRE prep course in the past? 

I've used Kaplan books, Manhattan books, and I've went through the 6 month Magoosh course when it was on discount.  I don't have the money or resources to spend on a face-to-face course or anything of that sort, unfortunately.  I've taken the test 3 times in the past, and the percentiles were:

first time:  30% V, 20% Q, 60% W (this was the old format and I can't find the actual percentiles on ETS, but this is the ballpark estimate)

second time:  56% V, 35% Q, 42% W

most recent:  56% V, 47% Q, 93% W

Based on my trend, it's possible that retaking it and focusing on quant, I could increase my score a little (to at or above 50%).  I don't think verbal will change that much, to be honest.  Most of my anxiety taking the test happens during the quant section when I realize I spent too much time on some problems and I don't have enough time to finish the section.  And then, of course, my poor performance the first half seeps into the second half when I'm demoralized.  I would say that most of my studying for the GRE has also been focused on improving my math skills.  My entire life I've struggled with mental math, so that might also be factoring into my quant performance, too.

When I took practice tests through magoosh and kaplan, I was sitting at around the 60-70% for quant and verbal.

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23 hours ago, Xerxxx said:

Undergrad Institution: Rutgers New Brunswick
Major(s): Cell Biology and Neuroscience
Minor(s): Chemistry
GPA in Major: 3.80
Overall GPA: 3.86
Position in Class: Not sure. Phi Beta Kappa elected twice (didn't join tho)
Type of Student: International Asian Female

GRE Scores (revised/old version): (Will take in Sept. Quite nervous in verbal and writing. Study hard rn.)
Q:
V:
W:
B:


Research Experience: (At your school or elsewhere? What field? How much time? Any publications (Mth author out of N?) or conference talks etc...)

I am super nervous about applying in this cycle because I don't really have much research experience. I've been working in a lab at my undergrad institution since this July. Project is focusing on iPSCs modeling neurological diseases. 

Produced a project proposal regarding Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis for the course Scientific Writing. 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?)

Academic Excellence Award 2015: Honored for having maintained the highest standards of academic excellence of the top 10% of the second year class

Elected to Phi Beta Kappa 2016 & 2017

Graduated summa cum laude

Dean's List all semesters


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...)

Ophthalmic Assistant in an ophthalmologist's office - half an year

Lab instructor/teaching assistant for general chemistry lab at undergrad institution for two academic semesters

Shadowed at department of medicine in summer 2016

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:

Stanford - Stem cell bio & regeneration/cancer bio/epidemiology 

Columbia 

U Penn

University of Washington

 

Any suggestion if I should apply this year? Because my GPA is not quite competitive and research experience is lacking. Am I aiming too high for those schools also? T.T

I would recommend you to take a gap year or two to get more research experience. Your GPA is good enough even for the most competitive program, but your limited research experience would hold you back. Working as a full time RA after graduation will not only help you to get more solid research experience and better recommendation letters, but also give you an opportunity to access whether grad school & a career in research is what you want.

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59 minutes ago, virology_2018 said:

I got C's in both semester of organic chemistry ( I plant to address in personal statement)

 

 

Same, and I got into 5 programs. None on that list (didn't apply to those schools), but it is possible.

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1 hour ago, aquamarine said:

Same, and I got into 5 programs. None on that list (didn't apply to those schools), but it is possible.

Looks like you into some very good programs, so that is reassuring :)

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