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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:11 pm 
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Imogen wrote:
couroupita wrote:
My complaint for the day is I'm applying to do a poster at this small, prestigious conference in July that will really help me make connections in the field I want to go into. However, the registration fee is $1000. $1000!!!!!!!!!! Not to mention it's all the way across the country. Oh boy. Better start saving.
Woah! And to think I was feeling resentful at being asked for £150 registration fee for a conference I'm presenting a paper at ...
lutin wrote:
I know, right? What kind of a conference charges $1k?
That is bananas! £130 is the absolute top I've ever paid (the Leeds medieval conference), and I thought that was pretty outrageous. As a grad student I've generally paid under $100, and sometimes well under that. $1000 seems fairly prohibitive, especially if you have to travel as well!

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:50 pm 
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Ha, registration for my next conference is $400. At the reduced society member postdoc rate. Not including crossing the Atlantic etc.

pearTree wrote:
Hi there,

So I'm currently pursuing my MS while working full time, and I've been toying with the idea of applying next year to PhD programs. My area of study is Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, don't know if anyone here is in that field. Anyways, I've been looking around at programs and I'm wondering if anyone in a related field of study (Biology, Computer Science, Engineering etc.) could give me some advice about choosing programs to apply to. Does the ranking of your grad school matter a great deal, or do people find that they benefit more finding a good mentor/advisor when choosing programs to apply to?

Anyone in the field of Bioinformatics? Any insights about higher ed in the field?

Yep, PhD in digging around in sequence (and other biological data) with computers here. I chose based on the advisor and previous work that had come out of his group. That's really what determines what you will end up working on, who you will collaborate with, and who will write your reference letters later. I should add that I didn't have to take any courses, and it's the norm to apply directly to a project or group in England.

One piece of advice I was given before applying was to talk to current grad students in the lab you're interested in to find out what they think of their PI. Without the PI present, of course.

Do you know what exactly it is you're interested yet?


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:23 pm 
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Rock on. The author's copy of my first published thing is on the way, and thanks to a FB announcement, I now have an *invitation* to write another thing for instant-publication. ("Instant".)

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:59 am 
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Still feeling so legit: my Amsterdam advisor has asked me to co-advise one of his BA students, my Groningen advisor has asked me to co-advise one of his MA students, and my Berkeley advisor/longtime mentor is sending me chapters of her book-in-progress for comments. Woo!

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:50 pm 
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So on days when I am feeling positive about grad school, I sometimes find myself thinking seriously about going to a phD program again in time. (After I have my MS and likely after being in industry for a few years.)

Then I think about the whole cycle of applications, getting people to write recommendations, taking GREs, and then after all of that, having to go through another 2 years of classwork most likely... another 2 years of exams and stupid classes that I've already taken at 3 different universities and... blergh. I'd like to DO SCIENCE and WRITE PAPERS and GO TO CONFERENCES!!!1!!1! but jesus I don't want to do all that other stuff. Not again.

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:52 pm 
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(Also, if I went to a phD program after this, I'd be approximately a million by the time I re-entered the work force.)

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:01 am 
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coldandsleepy wrote:
So on days when I am feeling positive about grad school, I sometimes find myself thinking seriously about going to a phD program again in time. (After I have my MS and likely after being in industry for a few years.)

Then I think about the whole cycle of applications, getting people to write recommendations, taking GREs, and then after all of that, having to go through another 2 years of classwork most likely... another 2 years of exams and stupid classes that I've already taken at 3 different universities and... blergh. I'd like to DO SCIENCE and WRITE PAPERS and GO TO CONFERENCES!!!1!!1! but jesus I don't want to do all that other stuff. Not again.

You can probably do those things as a research technician somehow. It also depends whether you're interested in running a group one day, and how much say you want in choosing projects. One of our permanent group members doesn't have a PhD and is employed as a bioinformatician. Boss keeps asking her if she'd consider doing one (wouldn't change much in practice), but she doesn't seem interested.

Or move to Europe and finish the whole PhD in three years, no classes apart from an hour a week for the first year...


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:33 am 
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So, I have my big, scary oral exams today. I've studied my asparagus off, but I'm still kinda freaking out, especially since I've had a not-so-fun few weeks. Deep breaths, and off to go run though my binders a few more times.


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:29 am 
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pearTree wrote:
Hi there,

So I'm currently pursuing my MS while working full time, and I've been toying with the idea of applying next year to PhD programs. My area of study is Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, don't know if anyone here is in that field. Anyways, I've been looking around at programs and I'm wondering if anyone in a related field of study (Biology, Computer Science, Engineering etc.) could give me some advice about choosing programs to apply to. Does the ranking of your grad school matter a great deal, or do people find that they benefit more finding a good mentor/advisor when choosing programs to apply to?

Anyone in the field of Bioinformatics? Any insights about higher ed in the field?

Yep, PhD in digging around in sequence (and other biological data) with computers here. I chose based on the advisor and previous work that had come out of his group. That's really what determines what you will end up working on, who you will collaborate with, and who will write your reference letters later. I should add that I didn't have to take any courses, and it's the norm to apply directly to a project or group in England.

One piece of advice I was given before applying was to talk to current grad students in the lab you're interested in to find out what they think of their PI. Without the PI present, of course.

Do you know what exactly it is you're interested yet?[/quote]

Thanks for the input Chipmunk! I have a couple of ideas of different routes I would like to go for a PhD - epigenetic inheritence disease research/analysis of gene regulation, computational evolutionary biology...I have taken Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology and I just love the "hard" sciences so I'm shying away from database design, and development of research tools simply because I would like to be in the lab and using the bioinformatics tools (so maybe I should really be considering computational biology).

I have looked at a couple of programs and there are some professors doing work that I would really love to contribute to, so I might take the plunge next year.


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:24 am 
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Another thing I forgot to mention is to consider lab size, which will probably influence how much interaction there is with the group leader. That's something current group members can probably tell you about. I started off in a very small group and would often wander next door and have spontaneous hour-long discussions about some observation I'd just made.


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:45 am 
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bekki wrote:
So, I have my big, scary oral exams today. I've studied my asparagus off, but I'm still kinda freaking out, especially since I've had a not-so-fun few weeks. Deep breaths, and off to go run though my binders a few more times.


Good luck bekki! You are prepared and you can do it!

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:45 am 
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Arrg organizing people is awful. What the hell.

We have our qualifying exam in June. My year has been having informal study groups for it (we basically know ahead of time the list of 100 or so topics we need to know about, so we randomly assign who gets what each week and do short presentations - it's an oral exam, so ideally the presentation should be how we'd answer). We had been meeting regularly and being super organized but recently it's totally fallen apart. We keep cancelling last minute and rescheduling. I cancelled all of my Monday night plans in order to get prepared to the study group today and then I wake up to e-mails saying "Whoops, forgot it was today. How about Thursday?" On the bright side, I'm ready and can work on other things between now and then. But on the other hand I'm pissed off and I wish people could stick to a schedule.


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:52 pm 
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coldandsleepy wrote:
bekki wrote:
So, I have my big, scary oral exams today. I've studied my asparagus off, but I'm still kinda freaking out, especially since I've had a not-so-fun few weeks. Deep breaths, and off to go run though my binders a few more times.
Good luck bekki! You are prepared and you can do it!
Break a leg - no, break both legs! And your arms! And let us know how it goes!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:09 pm 
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Thanks, guys, I passed! It was terrifying, but in the end, not so bad. I mean it was so bad, but at the same time, we have a great faculty and that goes a long way, both in making sure I know we know our stuff and in making the actual big exam at least mildly uncomfortable instead of grueling and painful.

And Tea, I feel your pain on the organizing people; that didn't really work out at all for me, so I only got a few hours of study time with others. What I did get was really helpful, but I spent a lot of time talking to myself. Ours was an oral exam, too, but it was nothing like a presentation. What are you majoring in?

It also turned out that I had a stomach bug; I thought I was too stressed to eat, because attempting breakfast made me feel ill. So glad that I didn't make myself choke down food this morning, because about an hour after a teeny post-exam late lunch, I lost it all. Violently. That could have been during my exam.

I guess the moral of the story is: If stress starts affecting you in a way that it never has in the past, it may not just be stress; I also have a fever.


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:41 pm 
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bekki wrote:
Thanks, guys, I passed!
YES! Congratulations!!! Now please send some of that mojo my way (May 14th can't be over fast enough to suit me)!

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:01 pm 
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Congrat bekki! Also, get well soon :o (if you're already well, awesome!)

Presentation is probably the wrong word. We know ahead of time what questions could potentially be asked (but no indication of what followups could be), so it's less a presentation and more just getting up in front of the study group and answering questions for practise.


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:01 pm 
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Is it okay to ask dumb questions about getting into grad school in this thread? I was wondering if any of you have any advice about getting to know professors well enough to ask them to write a letter of recommendation.

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:28 am 
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Desdemona wrote:
bekki wrote:
Thanks, guys, I passed!
YES! Congratulations!!! Now please send some of that mojo my way (May 14th can't be over fast enough to suit me)!


Please, if you are half as awesome out in the real world as you are in the PPK Universe you have absolutely nothing to worry about!

Tea, that is pretty much the form ours took. We got questions in advance from our core classes in order to prepare, but they were more like guidelines to follow; but the questions weren't always even asked the same way, and follow-up questions can (and did) go anywhere. My field is very applied and my degree is cross-disciplinary, so we had to be able to tie our answers across the range of topics.

Jigglypuff, I wish I had more advice for you, but mine kind of happened by default; I had a few professors that, due to circumstance beyond my control, I took multiple times (4!!) In my case, I was lucky and actually liked those professors, and in most cases, the classes were highly relevant to my grad degree. I think first and foremost, just do quality work. I'm inquisitive by nature, so I generally ask questions during class, and always contribute to discussions, if it's that sort of class. If you have genuine questions or interests about the day's topic, try to follow up after class, or ask for additional resources. If there is a professor that you feel comfortable talking to who is in involved in your field, just ask them if you can make an appointment one day to talk to them about grad school and increasing your chances of making it.

Also, I think there is a thread somewhere around here about applying to grad school, it may have some good info.


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:07 am 
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Proofs in the mail for my first solo piece! Huzzah!

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:17 am 
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And, in the past few days, my supervisor has said several times: You are your own worst critic. Calm down and enjoy your work & fabulous results already. (I'm still in worst critic mode, but it's nice to hear.)

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:31 pm 
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lutin wrote:
And, in the past few days, my supervisor has said several times: You are your own worst critic. Calm down and enjoy your work & fabulous results already. (I'm still in worst critic mode, but it's nice to hear.)


Aw. That gave me the fuzzies. Also, you should listen to that advice!

I am formatting a paper with LaTeX today for the first time since I was in grad school the first time, and it's making me nostalgic. Why does everything just look so nice in TeX?

Congrats bekki!

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:45 pm 
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bekki wrote:
Tea, that is pretty much the form ours took. We got questions in advance from our core classes in order to prepare, but they were more like guidelines to follow; but the questions weren't always even asked the same way, and follow-up questions can (and did) go anywhere. My field is very applied and my degree is cross-disciplinary, so we had to be able to tie our answers across the range of topics.


Cool. Also: I forgot to answer your question earlier; I'm in astronomy and astrophysics.

I'm not sure how to get to know profs well enough. Mostly a combination of having taken classes with them or having worked with them previously. I did a lot of undergrad research, which came about basically by just asking nicely, and then having done summer projects with them they were the folks I asked for letters from. And in a given lab you're never working in a vacuum, so I got to know others just by being in that environment and attending group meetings/social events. My undergrad institution was very good for that, because it was a very small department and it would've taken effort NOT to get to know anybody - no idea how you'd do it someplace larger.


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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:17 pm 
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Yeah, RE letters of rec: I got letters from 2 profs who I did undergrad research for, one prof who I knew really well from taking one of his upper div classes and also talking to about grad school, and one prof who taught a grad class I took. Not sure what field you're looking to go into, but I think the strongest letters came from my research advisors. I'd also try to foster relationships with profs who are teaching classes specific to your interests; go to office hours to discuss the class but also to talk about science, grad school, etc.

My recommendation for anyone looking into groups: find out if the prof is an asparagus about letting you graduate. My advisor is known for not letting people graduate because he doesn't think they've done enough work. Basically, he withdraws funding. No one told me this going in and now I'm a sixth year with a shiitake project and my advisor sent me on official letterhead a statement that he doesn't think my research has progressed enough and is cutting off my funding at the end of August. This means I have to work for free for an indefinite period of time until he thinks I'm "worthy" of a degree. I'm lucky that my husband is graduating and will be employed by the summer. Otherwise I'd have to quit the program without a PhD or take on massive student loans to support myself. As it is I will probably have to get the department/my thesis committee to intervene on my behalf and will end up having a very rocky relationship (no letter of rec) with my advisor.

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:30 pm 
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Re: getting to know professors well, +1 to coroupita's suggestions... I used to go to office hours constantly as an undergrad. You don't have to go for long, just think up some little question as an excuse to go chat, and that often works out as a jumping off point for talking about other things with your professors. (I have this theory that professors like to procrastinate just as much as students do, and I pretty much never had any professor be unreceptive to chatting in office hours.) This will also give you some hints as to whether or not the professor is an asparagus or not.

Also, coroupita, jeeeeeeezus. That guy sounds like the worst. I'm really sorry that you're in that situation!

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 Post subject: Re: Graduate Students of the PPK, Assemble!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:09 am 
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Wow. That is all sorts of terrible.

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