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2018 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

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Looking for some feedback on my application as a whole! I'll be applying this coming cycle with a significant amount of hands-on experience to hopefully offset my lower GPA and presumably not-stellar GRE scores. I am scheduled to take the GRE in the next month, and my three practice tests have hovered at Q: 155, V: 160 so I am assuming they'll stay within that range.

I'm looking to apply to some competitive Structural Biology/Biophysics programs.

Undergrad Institution: Top-3 Univ. o. Calif.
Major(s): Biology - Emphasis in Cell/Molec. Bio
GPA in Major: 3.35
Overall GPA: 3.24 (Last 60 units: 3.6)
Position in Class: Unsure, definite upward trend through last two years. Poor Start Freshman year due to medical issues with family.
Type of Student: Domestic

GRE Scores (revised/):
Q: 155 (Practice Test)
V: 160 (Practice Test)
W: -
B: N/A, not planning to take


Research Experience: 

2 years undergrad research lab experience (Genotyping Facility/Primate Research Facility)

4 years post-undergrad Industry research experience in Biophysics/Protein Biochemistry group.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Dean's list last year at undergrad.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: I've worked at two large well-known biotech companies (one for 1 year, the other for 3+ years) in protein biochemistry/structural biology/biophysics labs as an RA. Learned a significant amount of biophysical techniques and had great exposure to running my own research projects (have put together internal posters on my findings). No publications as a result of the IP issues surrounding the drugs we develop (unfortunately), but I can talk extensively about the experience I've gained in my SOP relating to the novel techniques I've developed for my projects.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: LOR writers have some ideal connections at schools I'm applying to (as in, they're former colleagues with the professors I intend to reach out to soon, so hopefully that bodes well on the impact of their recommendation).

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: The only other thing worth pointing out is that my LORs will be coming only from industry directors. All are PhD-level (and also are alumni of the schools to which I am most interested in applying). My managers/PIs from undergrad wont be able to write nearly as strong a recommendation for me as those who have seen the research I've done over the last 4 years in industry.

Applying to Where:

  • Harvard - BCSB (super longshot)
  • Columbia - Biochem/Molec. Biophys.
  • Stanford - Biophysics
  • UCSF - Biophysics
  • UC Berkeley - Biophysics
  • UCLA - BIochem/Molec./Structural Bio program
  • Univ. of Washington 

Thanks for any and all feedback!

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, bio_fis said:

Looking for some feedback on my application as a whole! I'll be applying this coming cycle with a significant amount of hands-on experience to hopefully offset my lower GPA and presumably not-stellar GRE scores. I am scheduled to take the GRE in the next month, and my three practice tests have hovered at Q: 155, V: 160 so I am assuming they'll stay within that range.

I'm looking to apply to some competitive Structural Biology/Biophysics programs.

Undergrad Institution: Top-3 Univ. o. Calif.
Major(s): Biology - Emphasis in Cell/Molec. Bio
GPA in Major: 3.35
Overall GPA: 3.24 (Last 60 units: 3.6)
Position in Class: Unsure, definite upward trend through last two years. Poor Start Freshman year due to medical issues with family.
Type of Student: Domestic

GRE Scores (revised/):
Q: 155 (Practice Test)
V: 160 (Practice Test)
W: -
B: N/A, not planning to take


Research Experience: 

2 years undergrad research lab experience (Genotyping Facility/Primate Research Facility)

4 years post-undergrad Industry research experience in Biophysics/Protein Biochemistry group.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Dean's list last year at undergrad.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: I've worked at two large well-known biotech companies (one for 1 year, the other for 3+ years) in protein biochemistry/structural biology/biophysics labs as an RA. Learned a significant amount of biophysical techniques and had great exposure to running my own research projects (have put together internal posters on my findings). No publications as a result of the IP issues surrounding the drugs we develop (unfortunately), but I can talk extensively about the experience I've gained in my SOP relating to the novel techniques I've developed for my projects.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: LOR writers have some ideal connections at schools I'm applying to (as in, they're former colleagues with the professors I intend to reach out to soon, so hopefully that bodes well on the impact of their recommendation).

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: The only other thing worth pointing out is that my LORs will be coming only from industry directors. All are PhD-level (and also are alumni of the schools to which I am most interested in applying). My managers/PIs from undergrad wont be able to write nearly as strong a recommendation for me as those who have seen the research I've done over the last 4 years in industry.

Applying to Where:

  • Harvard - BCSB (super longshot)
  • Columbia - Biochem/Molec. Biophys.
  • Stanford - Biophysics
  • UCSF - Biophysics
  • UC Berkeley - Biophysics
  • UCLA - BIochem/Molec./Structural Bio program
  • Univ. of Washington 

Thanks for any and all feedback!

 

 

 

With your extensive research experience, I would say you have a great shot at most schools. Your four years of research experience after undergraduate should make up for low numbers (GPA and GRE). If you can write a stellar SOP and get three LORs to back it up, you should be set. Take plenty of time to write your essays and make sure your letters are on the same page. 

Regarding places to apply, I will say two things:

First, I believe Harvard's BCSB track is within the larger MCO program. If you're applying to MCO, you might as well apply to BBS. As a BBS student, you can work in MCO labs and take MCO courses, but you are not restricted to MCO labs. A lot of people prefer the flexibility of BBS. And I believe if you apply to MCO, you can apply to BBS and one other Harvard program for free. Something to consider. 

Second, you only have really great schools on your list. I'm sure you will get interviews at a couple of those schools, but it is worth it to add a couple of less prestigious programs just in case. 

Good luck! 

 

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Hi everyone.

I'm a foreigner student looking for advices or feedback. I have no idea what the application process will look like, I just know that I will have to take both GRE and TOEFL.

 

Application field : Neuroscience

Undergrad Institution

BSc in a French University - Their neuroscience program is solid, but I doubt anyone knows it in US

I am currently enrolled in a Master's Degree in Cognitive Science, at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris


Major(s): Neuroscience
GPA in Major: Cannot convert to GPA system - from the info I gathered, it looks like ~[A-]
Overall GPA:  Same - BSc ~[A-] (14.5/20) // MSC ~[A] (15.5/20)
Position in Class: BSc : 1st in class, 4th in overall program / MSc : No ranking (but probably top 5/10%)
Type of Student: Foreigner / France

GRE Scores :
Q: 164 / 88% (Kaplan Practice) PI in US told me I should get 90% in Q
V: 150 / 50% (Kaplan Practice)
W: -



Research Experience: 

1 month of lab rotation during undergrad

4 month internship during MSc 1st year in rodent's electrophysiology - PI has a good reputation in his field

3 month internship during this summer in NHP electrophysiology - PI is very well-known in his field

5 month internship incoming - same PI as summer / work might be publishable, but the application process will be over by the time we submit the paper)

 


Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Nop

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:  See internships

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: I have had an interview with a PI from one of the Uni for which i'm going to apply - went extremely well. Plus, current PI knows this guy very well.



Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Head of a Student Association that organizes nationwide events in Cognitive Sciences.

Applying to Where:

  • Yale - BBS (top choice)
  • CalTech BSN program
  • Mount Sinai
  • Might consider other Uni if advised

 

In my mind I almost only want to apply to Yale, even though it might be too presumptuous - US is not my fav' destination but I'd REALLY like to make it to Yale. But eh I paid for GRE and TOEFL so I guess I can try other programs :) I will also apply to several EU PhD programs.

Thank you for your feedback

 

Edited by takos

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Undergrad Institution: University of Missouri - R1 AAU 

Graduate Institution: University of Southern California - R1 AAU

 


Major(s): U - Biochemistry

G - Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine 


Minor(s): U - Biology
GPA in Major: N/A
Overall GPA: uGPA 3.46 - gGPA 3.77
Position in Class: as per recommenders/mentors 

u - top 10%

g - top 15%


Type of Student: (Domestic/International, male/female, minority? - Domestic / m / LD minority

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 161 (78%)
V: 161 (88%)
W: 5.0 (93%)
B: did horribly on the last biochemistry one they offered, cannot retake (28%) only USC has the score. Will not send to others.


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...)

3 pubs (2nd/5, 2nd/6, 3rd/6 from grad)

earliest - most recent

1. 3.5 yrs in a large well known plant biochemistry lab at MU. I curated plants for the many ongoing projects and was able to learn very neat techniques while applying them toward the scientific basis of the question at hand. Ex. I used GC + H2 ionization detection (acetylene reduction) to measure Nitrogenase activity in a shotgun-KO gene population of Soybeans. I was also able to measure protein content in soybean seeds using NMR. 

2. I moved onto a quantitative analytical structural/physical biochemistry lab at MU. I worked in this lab for 2-3yrs.  I used ITC to compare binding of penta EF-hand peptides across mutated epitopes. This project developed into my first publication. (2nd Author Publication. Out of 5) Concurrently in the same lab I used CD spec in an array of stability/denaturation studies. Although I did not take quant lab in UG coursework I did have to master quantitative practice in all capacities in this lab especially since I was to work on my own project after 1-2 months training. I also aided in completing a structural study that helped answer the question addressed in my 1st publication. I developed an in-house crystallography scheme and later seeding/optimization technique in getting large crystals of the peptide in a non-occluded buffer. With expert help in looping/sample preparation I was able to send these samples to Livermore Collider and later use the beamline to collect diffraction data on these samples. This collaborative project became my 2nd (2nd author out of 6) publication from UG. 

3. Graduate - I joined a structural, liquid state NMR lab that investigated integral and peripheral membrane structure and interaction with the PL bilayer. I contributed toward a site-directed mutagenesis study and created ITC samples for study in a helical-membrane anchoring study. This project was part of a collaboration with a UCSD researcher and we have a publication submitted (I'm 3rd out of 6). 

4. Graduate (thesis) - I sought to develop a more physiologically and contextually relevant sample platform for membrane anchoring structural studies in liquid-state NMR. As my thesis committee mentioned this actually is 2 projects rolled into one in just over a year. 

A) I sought to employ PD Nanodiscs in creating these samples. I screened, optimized expression and ramped up production of 4 ApoA constructs in generating 4 differing sizes of nanodiscs. Once I narrowed down my top two ApoA constructs that would best suit the size and stability requirements for my intended target I tested 3 methods of phospholipid nanodisc creation while screening for the most stable nanodisc. (Using Gel filtration>SDS PAGE>15N NMR).

B - Once the ApoA/ND phase yielded a viable sample I sought to create/optimize a single and double labeled NMR sample containing a single labanles target within the ND Bilayer. Although I was able to get a nice NMR sample, there was occlusion and less clarity from the developed sample however my efforts did pace a platform for further future progress. Since this was a 2-yr MS program I had to write it up and present where I was. - I presented this in my first poster presentation to our department.

5. Professional / Industry (<6 months, ~1.5yr at time of enrollment into intended PhD program in 2018). I work for a wonderful company (top-5 in Biotech in world), this is like google, lots of younger driven researchers. I really would like to stay here however I was advised to seek a PhD by my previous mentors, and I always wanted to ask/address and answer larger scientific questions. I develop proteins for academia (short list of clients includes those from UCSD, Harvard, MiT, Stanford CalTech), this position uses my full degree and set of experience from educational training. Industry is faster pace, I start and complete 2-3 projects in less than 2 weeks. I love how each project differs where I get to conduct literature search and develop methods for expression & purification. We also get to troubleshoot/aid downstream manufacturers with our developed targets whenever necessary. Generally I don't use a wide array of varying techniques but I always get to research such a broad range of interesting and extant protein targets of interest. I get to adapt an affordable, efficient and effective method of generating some of today's most difficult and lesser known proteins for researchers this keeps even the most avid researchers on their toes ?



Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?) none

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

I train newcomers in our Biotech company on routine methods/techniques. 

I was a TA at MU for 7 semesters - newcoming/struggling science majors in record-enrollment years at MU. I led class discussion, developed lessons/activities. Provided support and advise for more rigorous STEM courses. 15-35 students/semester.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

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

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: My grandfather passed away one late undergraduate semester, one course I was taking did not allow me to relschedule a midterm. I sat early for it so I could goto his funeral, I got a C in this course. Otherwise I would have Latin honors. 

I loved USC's program and connected really well with my advisor. I'm worried my subject GRE in Biochem (28%) screwed me. I took this while in grad school (bad idea, no time).


Applying to Where:

Biochemistry/Mol Bio/Strucural Bio

1. USC - continuing same vein of structural research.

2. Baylor College of Medicine - I've contacted two researchers and was scouted for membrane/structural research.

3. UCSD - with our old collaborator (I've been in contact) 

4. Scripps (SD) - A postdoctoral friend at UCLA went here, he provided advise and inspiration for using PD nanodiscs in my MS thesis.

5. UCLA - Working in my postdoctoral friend's dept/lab group using structural and allied techniques to resolve large peptide structures. 

6. CalTech - I contacted a structural/analyitical lab where I really loved the creativity and scope of research in probing new methods to better structurally characterize proteins.

Biomedical Sci

1. UCSD - similar lab group to my collaborator

Neuroscience

1. UCSD - another similar lab in the med school where my old collaborator is located.

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Hello! Thanks for starting this thread! I'm a first time applicant, but I'm nervous because I'm an international student (even though I studied in the US for undergrad) - I heard it's generally harder for international students to gain admission anywhere. So I'm applying to 15-16 schools to make up for this higher standard for international students.

Here're my stats, and please let me know if I'm applying to too many top tier schools. Should I change my school choices? What are my chances? What should I focus on now to make my apps good? 

Also I'm applying to a new field. I want to apply to cancer biology with translational research focus/clinical exposure, but my experience has been in basic science and developmental biology. Does that affect my chances? How can I make my application stand out more?

Undergrad Institution: Large public research university in California, well known for biology/chemistry/medicine 
Major(s): Molecular, Cell, an Developmental Biology
Minor(s): Biomedical Research 
GPA in Major: 3.99
Overall GPA: 3.98
Position in Class: Top few
Type of Student: International, female, minority (Asian)

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 162 (82nd percentile)
V: 162 (91st percentile)
W: 4.5 (81st percentile)
B: 

Research Experience: 

- Undergrad research experience: 2 years in developmental biology lab at my school. 2 college wide poster presentations, 2 departmental poster presentations 

- 1 year as full time Research Technician (same lab as undergrad), manuscript in preparation (4th author out of 5, I'm in the only undergrad, the first 3 are post docs). During this year I made successful unprecedented attempt to apply a technique to our tissue, and also spearheaded using CRISPR/Cas9 in our lab. So I basically set up these 2 techniques in our lab. 

- 1 Summer Research Internship in Japan: Tumor Biology, 1 Program wide presentation, 1 host institution presentation 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

Summa Cum Laude, College Honors, Phi Beta Kappa 

Within school: Deans List (9/10 quarters), departmental outstanding poster award, study abroad scholarship, humanities essay prize 

Outside school: Amgen Scholarship (summer research), Amgen Japan Symposium poster award, Amgen Kyoto Symposium poster award, Singapore Government Undergraduate full-ride scholarship 

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

- TA 1 quarter, might be TAing again the upcoming Fall 

- 1 year research technician (mentioned above) 

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: 

- 1 LOR from departmental Chair (famous prof) 

- 1 from director of my minor (worked closely for TA and took a class with him)

- 1 from summer intern prof (who is relatively famous, worked under a very famous prof for his post doc) 


Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: N/A?

Applying to Where:

Harvard - BBS Program (Therapeutics, Cancer Bio or Translational Medicine Track)

JHU - Cellular and Molecular Medicine 

Stanford - Biosciences - (Cancer/Immunology/Stem Cell)

UPenn - Molecular Cellular Biology (+Certificate in Graduate Training in Medical science) - Cancer Bio Program

Gerstner Sloan Kettering - Biomedical Sciences

UCSD - Biomedical Sciences  - Cancer Bio/ Stem Cell

Columbia - Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular, Biomedical sciences

Rockefeller - Biosciences

Yale - Biological and Biomedical Sciences - Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, Physiology 

UCLA - Bioscience - Molecular Pharmacology 

UCSF - Biomedical Science - Cancer Bio & Cell Signaling

UChicago - Biomedical Science- Cancer Bio/Molecular Medicine/Immunity 

UT Southwestern Medical Center - Biological Sciences (+Translational Science Track) - Cancer Bio

UWash Seattle - Molecular and Cellular Biology - Cancer Bio/Stem Cell/Immunity

Pittsburgh - Biomedical Program - Cellular Molecular Pathology/ Molecular Pharmacology/ Developmental Bio 

 

 

 
 

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20 hours ago, flyFISH said:

Hello! Thanks for starting this thread! I'm a first time applicant, but I'm nervous because I'm an international student (even though I studied in the US for undergrad) - I heard it's generally harder for international students to gain admission anywhere. So I'm applying to 15-16 schools to make up for this higher standard for international students.

Here're my stats, and please let me know if I'm applying to too many top tier schools. Should I change my school choices? What are my chances? What should I focus on now to make my apps good? 

Also I'm applying to a new field. I want to apply to cancer biology with translational research focus/clinical exposure, but my experience has been in basic science and developmental biology. Does that affect my chances? How can I make my application stand out more?

Undergrad Institution: Large public research university in California, well known for biology/chemistry/medicine 
Major(s): Molecular, Cell, an Developmental Biology
Minor(s): Biomedical Research 
GPA in Major: 3.99
Overall GPA: 3.98
Position in Class: Top few
Type of Student: International, female, minority (Asian)

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 162 (82nd percentile)
V: 162 (91st percentile)
W: 4.5 (81st percentile)
B: 

Research Experience: 

- Undergrad research experience: 2 years in developmental biology lab at my school. 2 college wide poster presentations, 2 departmental poster presentations 

- 1 year as full time Research Technician (same lab as undergrad), manuscript in preparation (4th author out of 5, I'm in the only undergrad, the first 3 are post docs). During this year I made successful unprecedented attempt to apply a technique to our tissue, and also spearheaded using CRISPR/Cas9 in our lab. So I basically set up these 2 techniques in our lab. 

- 1 Summer Research Internship in Japan: Tumor Biology, 1 Program wide presentation, 1 host institution presentation 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

Summa Cum Laude, College Honors, Phi Beta Kappa 

Within school: Deans List (9/10 quarters), departmental outstanding poster award, study abroad scholarship, humanities essay prize 

Outside school: Amgen Scholarship (summer research), Amgen Japan Symposium poster award, Amgen Kyoto Symposium poster award, Singapore Government Undergraduate full-ride scholarship 

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

- TA 1 quarter, might be TAing again the upcoming Fall 

- 1 year research technician (mentioned above) 

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: 

- 1 LOR from departmental Chair (famous prof) 

- 1 from director of my minor (worked closely for TA and took a class with him)

- 1 from summer intern prof (who is relatively famous, worked under a very famous prof for his post doc) 


Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: N/A?

Applying to Where:

Harvard - BBS Program (Therapeutics, Cancer Bio or Translational Medicine Track)

JHU - Cellular and Molecular Medicine 

Stanford - Biosciences - (Cancer/Immunology/Stem Cell)

UPenn - Molecular Cellular Biology (+Certificate in Graduate Training in Medical science) - Cancer Bio Program

Gerstner Sloan Kettering - Biomedical Sciences

UCSD - Biomedical Sciences  - Cancer Bio/ Stem Cell

Columbia - Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular, Biomedical sciences

Rockefeller - Biosciences

Yale - Biological and Biomedical Sciences - Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, Physiology 

UCLA - Bioscience - Molecular Pharmacology 

UCSF - Biomedical Science - Cancer Bio & Cell Signaling

UChicago - Biomedical Science- Cancer Bio/Molecular Medicine/Immunity 

UT Southwestern Medical Center - Biological Sciences (+Translational Science Track) - Cancer Bio

UWash Seattle - Molecular and Cellular Biology - Cancer Bio/Stem Cell/Immunity

Pittsburgh - Biomedical Program - Cellular Molecular Pathology/ Molecular Pharmacology/ Developmental Bio 

 

 

 
 

Your profile looks great. If you can get great LORs and write a solid SOP, you should be able to get interviews from a great number of programs.

I'm an international applicants applied to/looked into many cancer-bio-focused programs on your list last cycle. Sadly, the admission for many cancer bio programs is very hard for intl applicants, because they rely on NIH training grants like T32. So you should look into more large biomedical science umbrella programs.

From my experience, UCSF BMS and Stanford Cancer Bio rarely take intl applicants unless they can secure their own funding. Yale MMPP and Penn Cancer Bio each has only one spot for intl student last cycle (learnt from ADCOM during interviews). UChicago cancer bio and Uwash MCB had very limited spot for intl student last cycle, but it might vary from year to year. Harvard BBS, GSK, Rockefeller and UTSW are pretty intl applicant friendly. You can also look into Weill Cornell (Weill Cornell grad students can do rotation in Sloan Kettering labs), WashU, UMichigan, Baylor, NYU, and UTH/MD Anderson, which all have some great cancer bio labs. 

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1 hour ago, MCF10A said:

Your profile looks great. If you can get great LORs and write a solid SOP, you should be able to get interviews from a great number of programs.

I'm an international applicants applied to/looked into many cancer-bio-focused programs on your list last cycle. Sadly, the admission for many cancer bio programs is very hard for intl applicants, because they rely on NIH training grants like T32. So you should look into more large biomedical science umbrella programs.

From my experience, UCSF BMS and Stanford Cancer Bio rarely take intl applicants unless they can secure their own funding. Yale MMPP and Penn Cancer Bio each has only one spot for intl student last cycle (learnt from ADCOM during interviews). UChicago cancer bio and Uwash MCB had very limited spot for intl student last cycle, but it might vary from year to year. Harvard BBS, GSK, Rockefeller and UTSW are pretty intl applicant friendly. You can also look into Weill Cornell (Weill Cornell grad students can do rotation in Sloan Kettering labs), WashU, UMichigan, Baylor, NYU, and UTH/MD Anderson, which all have some great cancer bio labs. 

Thanks for all the info MCF10A! I might want to rethink about the schools I wanna apply to, like probably not applying to UCSF or Yale. For the schools you mentioned, are they friendly to international applicants? I vaguely remember seeing that UMichigan don't think in internationals at all? 

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On 7/20/2017 at 5:17 PM, BabyScientist said:

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?

Hi everyone,

Still hoping for some input on my stats. Any advice helps! And any other schools anyone recommends applying to. Thanks!

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Undergrad Institution: Cal State Northridge 
Major(s): Chemistry
Minor(s): N/A
GPA in Major: 3.00
Overall GPA: 3.00
Position in Class: Failure first 2 years, did great the final 2 (top of my class my final year)
Type of Student: Average

GRE Scores (revised) Do Plan to retake and get a better score (hopefully):
Q: 149
V: 154
W: Not yet graded
B:


Research Experience: 3 years with one  Biochemistry lab (no publications yet)

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Presented at 3 conferences, only author (aside from PI). All posters. Won first place in all of them.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Private tutor in Chemistry and Math for 3 years (mostly high school level, but have taught a little bit at college level too)

Special Bonus Points: My letters are rec are from Biochemistry, Physical Chemistry, and Synthetic Chemistry (so wide range). One letter of rec is from my PI (Biochemist), the other is from someone I did a collaboration with (P. Chemist), and the final one is a professor I took a class with (Synthetic Chemist). Both the professor and collaborator told me they wanted to write my rec letter. So I assume I have strong rec letters across a good spectrum. 

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

Applying to Where:

I have yet to look at any specific program in detail (specific research done at said schools in detail), but these are schools that at surface level have interesting programs i'm interested in

Caltech, Berkley, UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, UCI, UCR, University of Toronto

NOTE: I know my GPA and GRE aren't all that amazing for these schools. I have been looking at some lesser known schools as back ups, but havn't been able to find any with good protein biochemistry programs. Any help to shoutouts at other schools with good protein Biochem programs would be appreciated! (Or if you think I have a chance at actually getting accepted to the schools above). 

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Undergrad Institution: University of Texas at Austin
Major(s): Biology (specification in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) and History
Minor(s):
GPA in Major: around a 3.6 (will update when I calculate it exactly)
Overall GPA: 3.5
Position in Class: average
Type of Student: Domestic white woman

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 153 (51st Percentile)
V: 160 (85th Percentile)
W: 5.0 (93rd Percentile)
B: Nope
I am planning to retake the GRE in September to raise my quantitative score. 

Research Experience: 

Freshman Research lab: 1 year in a genomics lab. I mostly learned sterile working technique, how to grow and culture yeast, how to do DNA and RNA extractions, how to do PCR, and how to runs gels. I also had a small project looking at how mutations changed how yeast handled heat stress, but for the most part this lab was about gaining skills.

EPA Internship: 1 month. I did DNA extractions on algae samples and qPCR. The project was looking how how algae used for biofuels interacted with algae to the Pacific Northwest. 

Pollinator Research lab: 2.5 years. I worked on a project using DNA to trace the movement of pollinators. I did a lot of DNA extractions and helped trouble shoot the process of doing extractions on seeds in the lab. During the last year I worked on my own project looking at how distance between trees affected their fruiting phenology, which I presented as a poster at my university's research forum.

Ecology Lab: 1 semester. This was actually a class, but the set up was a mini research project every week with a big project that lasted a month for the final. My project was on pollinators found on native and invasive species of Lantana in Texas. I also was given an acre for the semester and learned to: tag trees, identify trees, draw maps, and do various types of plant surveys. 

Field Technician: 5 months (will be 7 months when I finish the job). I'm currently working on a project looking at how warming temperatures will impact grasses in Michigan. The experiment is set up with ambient warming chambers at two sites within the state. My job is to go between the two sites and maintain the chambers, collect flowering phenology data, do monthly percent cover, do insect herbivory surveys, collect data from temperature probes and light probes, and collect samples for nutrient analysis. A decent amount of this job has also been improving the experiment in the form of making modifications to the warming chamber to make them easier to work in. I presented a poster in August on how the warming chambers impact flowering phenology.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

I got on the Deans list a few times
2 poster presentations


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

Tutor for one year in the University of Texas Athletics Department, for both Biology and History courses. I am also currently working in the Herbarium for University of Michigan.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Probably the opposite of an accomplishment, but I applied last year and didn't get in. So I've learned (I think) from my previous mistakes and am going at it again!

Special Bonus Points: I have worked directly with a lot of people at Michigan State, where I plan on applying. 

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

I think I need to put some context, since I'm sure looking at the information above, my information seems somewhat all over the place. I am interested in how humans have used the environment in the past and how that information can be used to inform conservation practices. This actually was heavily influenced by my history major, so even though it doesn't show up under my research experience, the history degree is important. 

Applying to Where (will be adding more as I get responses from professors emails):

Penn State - Anthropology and Ecology - Human Environmental Dynamics
Montana State University - Earth Sciences - Paleoecology
Michigan State University - Plant Biology - Landscape Resoration

Schools with labs I am waiting for responses from:
University of Montana
University of Oregon
University of Michigan

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On 8/12/2017 at 0:30 PM, BabyScientist said:

Hi everyone,

Still hoping for some input on my stats. Any advice helps! And any other schools anyone recommends applying to. Thanks!

Your application actually looks really good. The GPA isn't bad, and GRE is fine. Your main strongpoint is your publications (although depends on 1st author or 2nd, you state you are 2nd in one of them, so I assume you are 1st in the other 2), and a good amount of background experience. I think, on paper, you have a very good chance at getting into your schools however, there is on important thing to keep note of. I have seen this before, many people have joined multiple research labs, but have not contributed much to the labs themselves, and this becomes very evident in the rec letters themselves. So if you have contributed a lot to the research labs you've been a part of, and that is shown in the rec letters, then your application is good to go! 

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Undergrad Institution: Private R1, ~#100 in Biology
Major(s): Biology, Applied Mathematics
Minor(s): None
GPA in Major: 3.85 Biology, 3.90 Math
Overall GPA: 3.90
Position in Class: Good
Type of Student: Domestic female, Asian-American

GRE Scores (revised):
Q: 165 (practice)
V: 165 (practice)
W: 
B: n/a

Research Experience: 

3 years in a functional morphology lab, working essentially at the level of a Master's student in terms of independence and self-driven project. 

  • 1 conference poster, first author
  • 1 conference talk, first author


Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 

  • Schoolwide fellowship
  • Departmental fellowship 
  • Various academic achievement awards (Dean's List, Dean's Scholars, etc.)


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

  • Undergrad biology TA
  • Undergrad physics TA


Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Graduate classes in population biology and applied math


Special Bonus Points:

Very strong LORs


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

I'm applying with a very heavily quantitative background into evolutionary biology programs. While the labs I'm applying to are mostly theoretical (i.e. mathematical), it's rare for applicants to have both majors instead of just one, and I'm hoping that gives me a significant edge. 


Applying to Where:

All EEB departments.


UT Austin
Michigan State University
University of Chicago
University of Arizona
Arizona State University

Edited by alanine

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Undergrad Institution: Top 5 liberal arts college
Major(s): Biology w/ conc. in molecular biology/biochem
Minor(s):
GPA in Major: 3.65
 Overall GPA: 3.58
Position in Class: 
Type of Student: Domestic Male

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: High 160s (practice exams)
V: High 150s/low 160s (practice exams)
W: idk

I'm pretty sure I can get the verbal up a bit more if I memorize more vocab. I'm taking the test in 6 weeks. As for quant, as long as I don't make a stupid mistake, I think I can get 170.

Research Experience: 

3 summers of internships at different labs:

  - 2 summers spent at USC at different oceanic microbe labs. Didn't really do much there except learn to pipette stuff and extract DNA.

  - 1 summer at a lab in my school, working on my own project. Did a lot of PCR and zebrafish developmental stuff.

1 year of working on senior thesis on microbiology.

1+ (current) working at Sloan Kettering, working with cell culture and CRISPR libraries, and other molecular techniques. Hoping to submit something before I leave.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions:

Dean's list for a few semesters

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

TA for 5 semesters in various biology courses.

1 year on the advisory committee for biology majors.

Worked for a semester in a Drosophila lab.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Know a little bit of R and Python


Special Bonus Points: 

My thesis adviser wrote me a really good LOR. I'll get another one from my current PI, which I think I can count on to be just as good. I'll get a third from one of the summer PIs.

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

Applying to Where:

Areas of interest:

 - cancer biology

 - microbiome

 - I would love to learn more about computational methods, and how we can apply them for modeling how the different components in the cell interact and respond to different stimuli.

Applying to mainly molecular/cellular biology programs.


Harvard BBS, and maybe MCO

MIT

UC Berkeley

Stanford

Caltech

U Washington

CU Boulder

and maybe Weill Cornell

Edited by MEFFEDUP

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On 8/12/2017 at 6:51 PM, samman1994 said:

NOTE: I know my GPA and GRE aren't all that amazing for these schools. I have been looking at some lesser known schools as back ups, but havn't been able to find any with good protein biochemistry programs. Any help to shoutouts at other schools with good protein Biochem programs would be appreciated! (Or if you think I have a chance at actually getting accepted to the schools above). 

Are you looking at MS or PhD programs? If you are applying to PhDs, i would consider an MS first if at all possible (at least applying to a few, just in case). Since it seems clear that you are on an upward trend, you would likely do well in an MS program, a good Master's GPA will make your application to PhD programs extremely strong. 

Your application in general looks good except for your GPA and GRE. Unfortunately there's not much to be done about the GPA unless some school ask for last 60 credit hours. But is there any way to get your GRE up, especially your quant? I am concerned you might be filtered out. Reaching out to faculty ahead of time will help mitigate that, but it's still possible. 

Good luck! 

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16 minutes ago, alanine said:

Are you looking at MS or PhD programs? If you are applying to PhDs, i would consider an MS first if at all possible (at least applying to a few, just in case). Since it seems clear that you are on an upward trend, you would likely do well in an MS program, a good Master's GPA will make your application to PhD programs extremely strong. 

Your application in general looks good except for your GPA and GRE. Unfortunately there's not much to be done about the GPA unless some school ask for last 60 credit hours. But is there any way to get your GRE up, especially your quant? I am concerned you might be filtered out. Reaching out to faculty ahead of time will help mitigate that, but it's still possible. 

Good luck! 

Thanks for the reply! I do plan to retake the GRE (albeit I don't think i'll get higher than the mid 150s). I am also applying to a field that I have a lot of experience in. So I'm hoping I can convince the PI ahead of time that I'm the type of person that they really want in their lab. I do plan on personally reaching out to ask if they have funding and room regardless, but will also attempt to sell myself in the process. 

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1 hour ago, alanine said:

Are you looking at MS or PhD programs? If you are applying to PhDs, i would consider an MS first if at all possible (at least applying to a few, just in case). Since it seems clear that you are on an upward trend, you would likely do well in an MS program, a good Master's GPA will make your application to PhD programs extremely strong. 

Your application in general looks good except for your GPA and GRE. Unfortunately there's not much to be done about the GPA unless some school ask for last 60 credit hours. But is there any way to get your GRE up, especially your quant? I am concerned you might be filtered out. Reaching out to faculty ahead of time will help mitigate that, but it's still possible. 

Good luck! 

Sorry forgot the first half. I am looking at PhDs. I don't have the money to finance a MA, but with a PhD you can get a stipend, so money wouldn't be an issue. 

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26 minutes ago, samman1994 said:

Sorry forgot the first half. I am looking at PhDs. I don't have the money to finance a MA, but with a PhD you can get a stipend, so money wouldn't be an issue. 

Understandable! Good luck on your admissions; with your experience, I think if you can make a good connection with a faculty member you stand a good shot.

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1 hour ago, alanine said:

Understandable! Good luck on your admissions; with your experience, I think if you can make a good connection with a faculty member you stand a good shot.

That's the plan! Thank you! By the way, does that imply if I don't make a good connection with a faculty member, then my chances aren't good?

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On 7/13/2017 at 1:26 PM, whybanana said:

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. 

Yeah, I heard all of this too.  I also have a low uGPA with great research and volunteer (directly related to field) experiences.  I did not publish while in UG, nor did I run my own lab--both of which I assume will be huge advantages for you, but I did also receive stellar LORs.  First time through the application cycle I was denied by five programs and waitlisted by one... ...only to ultimately be denied by that one, too.  Second year, applied to 7 programs and was denied by all seven.  I was in contact with a PI at one of those programs and I had thought for sure I was in as he practically all but said it.  Third cycle/year/attempt I had applied to five programs, including to the same lab/PI I had just previously mentioned.  Was denied by four but was accepted into that PIs lab.  

Each time, with each rejection, I had contacted the program director to see if I could find out where in my application I may have been delinquent with the hopes of arming myself with that knowledge for the next cycle.  My SOPs were good, LORs were good, experiences were good, GRE scores good enough, and so on.  Turns out, it was my low GPA that caused the rejections.  

It's really hit or miss, though.  Some will say that a well-written SOP, good LORs and UG research experience are enough to overcome a low uGPA.  Others, will tell you otherwise.  There is truth to both and it really depends on the department, who's looking to take on students that particular year, and on and on.  Luck plays a role in all of this, too.  

 

*edit to add*

I've been a member around here for five years or so.  If history bears any evidence, this thread will get swamped with bio undergrads looking at neuroscience programs, immunology, oncology, and a few other programs more-or-less related to a medical field.  Competition in these areas is intense, in particular when compared to other fields of biology such as marine bio, micro, ecology, and a few others.  Not to discourage anyone from applying, though, and I am wishing everyone good luck.  

Edited by Crucial BBQ

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22 minutes ago, Crucial BBQ said:

Yeah, I heard all of this too.  I also have a low uGPA with great research and volunteer (directly related to field) experiences.  I did not publish while in UG, nor did I run my own lab--both of which I assume will be huge advantages for you, but I did also receive stellar LORs.  First time through the application cycle I was denied by five programs and waitlisted by one... ...only to ultimately be denied by that one, too.  Second year, applied to 7 programs and was denied by all seven.  I was in contact with a PI at one of those programs and I had thought for sure I was in as he practically all but said it.  Third cycle/year/attempt I had applied to five programs, including to the same lab/PI I had just previously mentioned.  Was denied by four but was accepted into that PIs lab.  

Each time, with each rejection, I had contacted the program director to see if I could find out where in my application I may have been delinquent with the hopes of arming myself with that knowledge for the next cycle.  My SOPs were good, LORs were good, experiences were good, GRE scores good enough, and so on.  Turns out, it was my low GPA that caused the rejections.  

It's really hit or miss, though.  Some will say that a well-written SOP, good LORs and UG research experience are enough to overcome a low uGPA.  Others, will tell you otherwise.  There is truth to both and it really depends on the department, who's looking to take on students that particular year, and on and on.  Luck plays a role in all of this, too.  

 

*edit to add*

I've been a member around here for five years or so.  If history bears any evidence, this thread will get swamped with bio undergrads looking at neuroscience programs, immunology, oncology, and a few other programs more-or-less related to a medical field.  Competition in these areas is intense, in particular when compared to other fields of biology such as marine bio, micro, ecology, and a few others.  Not to discourage anyone from applying, though, and I am wishing everyone good luck.  

Thank you for the input, I also have a low GPA (3.00) and low GRE (50% in quant), but good research experience and LOR, and am applying this year for PhD to 5 programs. I am looking at structural biology and biophysics however, so I think that is a little bit less competitive than neuroscience or immunology. However, I believe structural biology and biophysics do fall under the school of medicine for like 90% of schools, so I think the program itself will probably be under Biomed or something like that. I also plan to follow the same path, basically try and convince the PI they want me in their lab and to push me through their system since my academic application is so weak. 

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20 minutes ago, samman1994 said:

Thank you for the input, I also have a low GPA (3.00) and low GRE (50% in quant), but good research experience and LOR, and am applying this year for PhD to 5 programs. I am looking at structural biology and biophysics however, so I think that is a little bit less competitive than neuroscience or immunology. However, I believe structural biology and biophysics do fall under the school of medicine for like 90% of schools, so I think the program itself will probably be under Biomed or something like that. I also plan to follow the same path, basically try and convince the PI they want me in their lab and to push me through their system since my academic application is so weak. 

Contacting profs is the best strategy.  Don't rely on websites as profs/PIs/labs don't seem to update the websites with any sort of frequency.  A POI that you are interested in, as an example, may be going on sabbatical or is retiring from research.  They may have left the department or is no longer associated with the institution, for all that we know.  

 

Speaking of neuro, and I had wrote of this story here on GradCafe a few times, I know of a woman who graduated from a ho-hum State university with an average uGPA and below average GRE scores who was accepted into one of the better programs for neurosciences in the U.S.  This woman was friends of an ex, who, had also graduated from that same State university, but with a high uGPA.  Her GREs were really low and she was accepted into the #2 ranked program for her field of study at Johns Hopkins (if you believe that grad programs can be ranked, like USWNR does).  With her, however, she had applied to perhaps 8 programs, all for Ph.D.  She was denied, expect by two, and both only had offered her admissions into their MS programs.  I do know that with Hopkins they were concerned over her low GRE QR score, which is why they had denied her into their Ph.D program.   

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21 minutes ago, Crucial BBQ said:

Contacting profs is the best strategy.  Don't rely on websites as profs/PIs/labs don't seem to update the websites with any sort of frequency.  A POI that you are interested in, as an example, may be going on sabbatical or is retiring from research.  They may have left the department or is no longer associated with the institution, for all that we know.  

 

Speaking of neuro, and I had wrote of this story here on GradCafe a few times, I know of a woman who graduated from a ho-hum State university with an average uGPA and below average GRE scores who was accepted into one of the better programs for neurosciences in the U.S.  This woman was friends of an ex, who, had also graduated from that same State university, but with a high uGPA.  Her GREs were really low and she was accepted into the #2 ranked program for her field of study at Johns Hopkins (if you believe that grad programs can be ranked, like USWNR does).  With her, however, she had applied to perhaps 8 programs, all for Ph.D.  She was denied, expect by two, and both only had offered her admissions into their MS programs.  I do know that with Hopkins they were concerned over her low GRE QR score, which is why they had denied her into their Ph.D program.   

Damn John Hopkins was my number 2 school. Also, you could always check their website (those are usually updated regularly) and email the through there. Anyways thank you for your help and advice!

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Undergrad Institution: State university, R1
Major(s): Animal Sciences, with honors
Minor(s): Biology
GPA in Major: Not sure, but probably close to if not higher than overall. 
Overall GPA: 3.79
Position in Class: Near top? 
Type of Student: (Domestic/International, male/female, minority?) Domestic, female, white

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 158 (69%)
V: 162 (91%)
W: 6 (99%)
B: N/A

Research Experience: 4 years in undergrad developmental biology lab. State conference twice. 1 1/2 full time summers.


Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Awarded small grants and fellowships from university, cum laude

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Academic advisor, tutor


Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: N/A


Special Bonus Points: Completed a certificate program in human health. Have mentored two undergrads. Lots of volunteer work.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: I took a gap year and traveled, spent some time shadowing clinicians, but did not actively participate in research.

Applying to Where: I would appreciate any input on this. Really struggling to put together a list. My interest is primarily in the microbiome. Am I reaching too high here? Anywhere I should obviously be applying that I've missed? Too many schools? 


Emory-GDBBS

University of Michigan-PIBS

Baylor-GSBS

Harvard-BBS

UPenn-CAMB

North Carolina State-Microbiology

UT Southwestern-DBS

Tufts-Molecular Micro (MERGE-ID)

WUSTL-Microbiology

U Wash-Pathobiology

Chicago-Microbiology

THANK YOU!
 

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45 minutes ago, scoobydoo9 said:

Undergrad Institution: State university, R1
Major(s): Animal Sciences, with honors
Minor(s): Biology
GPA in Major: Not sure, but probably close to if not higher than overall. 
Overall GPA: 3.79
Position in Class: Near top? 
Type of Student: (Domestic/International, male/female, minority?) Domestic, female, white

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 158 (69%)
V: 162 (91%)
W: 6 (99%)
B: N/A

Research Experience: 4 years in undergrad developmental biology lab. State conference twice. 1 1/2 full time summers.


Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Awarded small grants and fellowships from university, cum laude

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Academic advisor, tutor


Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: N/A


Special Bonus Points: Completed a certificate program in human health. Have mentored two undergrads. Lots of volunteer work.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: I took a gap year and traveled, spent some time shadowing clinicians, but did not actively participate in research.

Applying to Where: I would appreciate any input on this. Really struggling to put together a list. My interest is primarily in the microbiome. Am I reaching too high here? Anywhere I should obviously be applying that I've missed? Too many schools? 


Emory-GDBBS

University of Michigan-PIBS

Baylor-GSBS

Harvard-BBS

UPenn-CAMB

North Carolina State-Microbiology

UT Southwestern-DBS

Tufts-Molecular Micro (MERGE-ID)

WUSTL-Microbiology

U Wash-Pathobiology

Chicago-Microbiology

THANK YOU!
 

I'm not really into that field, so I can't be one state about your application, but in regards to schools, it just comes down to money. I restrict my list to schools that have a minimum of 3 people I would be interested doing research in, and then from those schools, I narrow it down to my top 10 most desired. From there I ask around to see if anyone knows the faculty members (they might have a terrible personality or something like that), and cross them off. After that, I look at stipend amount and location (e.g. most schools give enough for your own place, but if say you want to go to New York City College, it an expensive city, you will have to find a roomate and that may or may not be problem for you), and narrow my list down to 5 schools. Like I said all this is for money, most schools can cost anywhere from 50-175 dollars for each application (not including sending GRE scores), so I plan to spend under 500 for my entire application process.

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