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raul.carmo

SOP for chemistry PhD program

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Hi everyone,

I am applying to PhD programs in the US for the Fall 2018 semester but I am not confident that my SOP is good enough. As an international student, I have little knowledge on this since writing SOP for graduate schools is not common my country. Can someone review my SOP and tell me what could be changed to improve it? Any advice is welcome :)

I tried to keep it 1 page long because I heard that faculty members in the US do not like to see statements any longer than that. However, I had to omit that I have one manuscript in preparation, one poster presentation, voluntary activities etc. What do you think? Should I replace any information on my SOP by those?

 

Thanks

 

To the admissions committee,

 

I am writing on behalf of my application for the Doctoral program in Chemistry at the University of X. I have earned a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the Federal University of Viçosa (Brazil) in 2015 and a Master's degree in Inorganic Chemistry from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in 2017. The strong research on catalysis and new synthetic methodologies conducted in your institution made me very interested in pursuing graduate studies at your department.

 

Since sophomore year in college, I have been involved in research projects in the interface between organic and inorganic chemistry, studying new ways to transform abundant and cheap substances into valuable compounds using less toxic reagents and generating less waste. In my Master's thesis I managed to transform compounds extracted from pine trees into biologically-active amines in a one-pot procedure using ethanol instead of toluene as a solvent, a greener approach to the synthesis of amines that led to higher yields and selectivities than the traditional systems already used. In addition, I had the opportunity to take graduate-level courses about group theory, advanced mass spectrometry, nanotechnology and experimental nuclear magnetic resonance which contributed to my understanding of core concepts of my research area. I have also spent the 2012-2013 academic year in the U.S performing research at the University of California Davis as a recipient of the Science Without Borders scholarship. Studying abroad has introduced me to state-of-the-art science and allowed me to operate new instruments and learn new techniques not available in my home institution, besides the rich cultural exchange. In 2016, the American Chemical Society awarded me with a scholarship to travel to Panama, where I received intensive training on scientific outreach and communication. This opportunity has  impacted the way I think chemistry can serve our society and made me realize I can do more for my country than I ever expected through science. Brazil has numerous economic and social inequality problems,and I think one of the most powerful ways to overcome them is through international scientific cooperation and knowledge exchange.

 

Research experience combined with extensive theoretical and practical training received during the baccalaureate and graduate-level courses encouraged me to take a step further in my career as a scientist. My professional goal is to become highly qualified in the field of catalysis and teach at an institution committed to social, economic, environmental and scientific development in my country. The PhD program in Chemistry at the University of Utah is a very good fit for me since it has a structure with all the resources I need to advance in my research, with Dr. X and Dr. Y and Dr. Z groups being very active and relevant to my field. The NMR facility have the capability of multinuclear detection, which is indispensable for my work in the frontier of organometallic chemistry and synthesis, as well as modern mass and optical spectrometers.

 

I am confident that the aforementioned characteristics make me a viable candidate for this graduate program. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my candidacy with the department faculty and provide further information. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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12 hours ago, raul.carmo said:

 

 

Hi everyone,

I am applying to PhD programs in the US for the Fall 2018 semester but I am not confident that my SOP is good enough. As an international student, I have little knowledge on this since writing SOP for graduate schools is not common my country. Can someone review my SOP and tell me what could be changed to improve it? Any advice is welcome :)

I tried to keep it 1 page long because I heard that faculty members in the US do not like to see statements any longer than that. However, I had to omit that I have one manuscript in preparation, one poster presentation, voluntary activities etc. What do you think? Should I replace any information on my SOP by those?

 

Thanks

 

To the admissions committee,

 

I am writing on behalf of my application for the Doctoral program in Chemistry at the University of X. I think this is kinda unnecessary? I have earned a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the Federal University of Viçosa (Brazil) in 2015 and a Master's degree in Inorganic Chemistry from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in 2017. The strong research on catalysis and new synthetic methodologies conducted in your institution made me very interested in pursuing graduate studies at your department.

 

Since sophomore year in college, I have been involved in research projects at the interface between organic and inorganic chemistry, studying new ways to transform abundant and cheap substances into valuable compounds using less toxic reagents and generating less waste (this is kinda too general - this is basically every catalysis project). In my Master's thesis I managed to transformed compounds extracted from pine trees into biologically-active amines in a one-pot procedure using in ethanol instead of toluene as a solvent (redundant), a greener approach to the synthesis of amines that led to higher yields and selectivities than the traditional systems already used. In addition, I had the opportunity to take took graduate-level courses on group theory, advanced mass spectrometry, nanotechnology and experimental nuclear magnetic resonance which contributed to my understanding of core concepts of my research area. I have also spent the 2012-2013 academic year in the US performing research at the University of California, Davis as a recipient of the Science Without Borders Scholar. Studying abroad has introduced me to state-of-the-art science and allowed me to operate new instruments and learn new techniques not available in my home institution, besides the rich cultural exchange. In 2016, the American Chemical Society awarded me with a scholarship to travel to Panama, where I received intensive training on scientific outreach and communication. This opportunity has  impacted the way I think chemistry can serve our society and made me realize I can do more for my country than I ever expected through science. Brazil has numerous economic and social inequality problemsand I think one of the most powerful ways to overcome them is through international scientific cooperation and knowledge exchange.

 

Research experience combined with extensive theoretical and practical training received during the baccalaureate and graduate-level courses encouraged me to take a step further in my career as a scientist. My professional goal is to become highly qualified in the field of catalysis and teach at an institution committed to social, economic, environmental and scientific development in my country. The PhD program in Chemistry at the University of Utah is a very good fit for me since it has a structure with all the resources I need to advance in my research, with Dr. X and Dr. Y and Dr. Z groups being very active and relevant to my field. The NMR facility have the capability of multinuclear detection, which is indispensable for my work in the frontier of organometallic chemistry and synthesis, as well as modern mass and optical spectrometers.

 

I am confident that the aforementioned characteristics make me a viable candidate for this graduate program. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my candidacy with the department faculty and provide further information. Thank you for your time and consideration.

To be honest, I feel like you tell more than you show - you need to also consider why you are a fit for them, not just how you fit there. I don't feel you really explain why you're a good fit for particular groups. What about their research interests you - you don't even mention the research they do...

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8 hours ago, someth1ngAus said:

To be honest, I feel like you tell more than you show - you need to also consider why you are a fit for them, not just how you fit there. I don't feel you really explain why you're a good fit for particular groups. What about their research interests you - you don't even mention the research they do...

Thanks for the advice, as someone not experienced in writing statements of purpose I need all the help you can give. I thought about discussing my qualifications to prove I am a good fit for the program, but I thought it would be pretentious of me. Any advice on how should I put my qualifications without looking obnoxious?

Would it be so bad if my SOP exceeds 1 page? Because I think it will be impossible to add any information to this and keep it one page long...

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I tried to add some information, I don't know if it got better or worse though.

 

To the admissions committee,

 

I earned a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the Federal University of Viçosa (Brazil) in 2015 and a Master's degree in Inorganic Chemistry from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in 2017. The strong research on catalysis and new synthetic methodologies conducted in your institution made me very interested in pursuing graduate studies at your department.

 

Since sophomore year in college, I have been involved in research projects at the interface between organic and inorganic chemistry. In my Master's work I was mentored by Dr. Eduardo Santos (one of the most prominent catalysis researchers in Brazil), transforming olefins extracted from pine trees into biologically-active amines through a Rh-catalyzed one-pot procedure in ethanol instead of toluene, a greener approach to the synthesis of amines that led to higher yields and selectivities than the traditional systems already used. In addition, I took graduate-level courses on group theory, advanced mass spectrometry, nanotechnology and received practical training from companies such as Bruker and Shimadzu to operate equipment such as NMR spectrometers, chromatographs, electron microscopes and others. These advanced courses contributed to my understanding of core concepts of my research area as well as for my skills to independently operate essential equipment in my field. I have also spent the 2012-2013 academic year in the U.S performing research on chemical ecology at the University of California Davis as a Science Without Borders Scholar. Studying abroad has introduced me to cutting-edge science, allowing me to operate new instruments and learn new techniques not available in my home institution, besides the rich cultural exchange. In 2016, the American Chemical Society awarded me with a scholarship to travel to Panama, where I received intensive training on scientific outreach and communication, skills that are imperative for a graduate student, this opportunity has  impacted the way I think chemistry can serve our society and made me realize I can do more for my country than I ever expected through science. Brazil has numerous economic and social inequality problems,and being raised here gave me perspectives that I think will be useful not only during graduate studies but also throughout my career as a scientist. Unfortunately, Brazil has been facing major cuts in science budget since the last two years and in the actual scenario I am not able to do impactful research here and, for me, the most powerful way to overcome economic and social hardship is through international scientific cooperation and knowledge exchange.

 

I believe my research skills and the willingness to help others understand the importance of science for sustainable development are the strongest parts of my application. As a creative, responsible, result-driven and focused person, I want to be able to help the academic community not merely by doing outstanding research in catalysis but also by participating actively in discussions within the department and the university, raising awareness on the importance of diversity and sustainability in academia. I would also appreciate the opportunity to help students from the Department of Languages learning portuguese, my native language, in informal conversation sessions with the Brazilian Club. My professional objective is to become highly qualified in the field of catalysis and teach at an institution committed to social, economic, environmental and scientific development in my country. Earning a PhD from an institution known for high-quality standards and few research constraints on their students such as the University of Utah would help me achieving this career goal.

 

After a thorough search, I found that the PhD program in Chemistry at the University of Utah is a very good fit for me since it has a structure with all the resources I need to advance in my career. Dr. Sigman research on metal-catalyzed coupling reactions is specifically what I want to investigate as a graduate student, I think coupling reactions can pave the way for more efficient biorenewable olefins valorization, while also generating less waste than traditional methods of alkene modification. The department also have other faculty members that I would feel honoured to work with, such as Dr. Louis and Dr. Roberts, both being very active and relevant to organometallic catalysis and synthetic development. The state-of-the-art department facilities such as NMR laboratories will offer me the advantage and privilege to be creative in the finding of new reactions and explore the chemistry at a mechanistic level, since the equipment have the capability of multinuclear detection, solid state and ultra-low temperature analysis, which are imprescindible for my work in the frontier of organometallic chemistry and synthesis, as well as modern mass and optical spectrometers which can corroborate my results. The collegiality of the department members is also a positive feature to me, since I am an extroverted and sociable person who would enjoy such an environment to make new friends and create a network of scientific contacts for future collaborations.

 

I am confident that the aforementioned characteristics make me a viable candidate for this graduate program. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my candidacy with the department faculty and provide further information. Thank you for your time and consideration.


 

Raul L. L. do Carmo

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11 hours ago, raul.carmo said:

Thanks for the advice, as someone not experienced in writing statements of purpose I need all the help you can give. I thought about discussing my qualifications to prove I am a good fit for the program, but I thought it would be pretentious of me. Any advice on how should I put my qualifications without looking obnoxious?

Would it be so bad if my SOP exceeds 1 page? Because I think it will be impossible to add any information to this and keep it one page long...

You don't need to include it if it's in your CV (which it should be). The SOP is not a second CV -- you need to include information that they can't get from there.

General piece of advice, try to convey meaning with less words...

Your section:

Dr. Sigman research on metal-catalyzed coupling reactions is specifically what I want to investigate as a graduate student, I think coupling reactions can pave the way for more efficient biorenewable olefins valorization, while also generating less waste than traditional methods of alkene modification.

Edited:

I am interested in Dr. Sigman's research on metal-catalyzed coupling reactions towards more efficient biorenewable olefins valorization compared to traditional alkene modifications.

See how I've basically said the same thing with like, half the space? It cleans up your writing and removes the fluff that isn't needed. It gives you more space to write something meaningful. Avoid saying things that are obvious - like, generating "less waste" and "more efficient" don't really need to be stated together. They're almost the same thing and you waste space - just use one of them.

Edited by someth1ngAus

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