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REU Personal Essay

by Invyz
Tags: essay, personal
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Jan21-13, 07:38 PM
P: 14
I was wondering if you guys could provide some input on my personal statement. The prompt is, in 400 words, to explain your interest in the program, how it fits in with your goals, the science questions that intrigue you, the areas in which you would like to conduct research, relevant academic, personal, and service background, special strengths you have, what you hope to gain from the program. I've never written one of these before so I'm not sure how relevant parts of this are. I'm thinking the diversity bit might be irrelevant but I don't really have a community service background. Also, what constitutes relevant personal background? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

As world education rises in tandem with computing power and STEM investment throughout nations, professionals expect the 21st century to yield a golden age for the physical sciences and engineering. Advances in medicine, computing, and science have paved way to an increasingly technological and complex new world, and will continue to do so. Are room-temperature superconductors feasible? How might we develop a spin transistor? What is the cleanest, most efficient energy source? In my physics study, applications to technology and energy have consistently fascinated me with their potential to influence the future.
Specifically, I have developed an interest in condensed matter physics. Overlapping with many technical innovations at the forefront of industry and research in various fields, I have little doubt experience in the field would transfer to developing skills in related fields. Participation in the University of ***** REU in physics would facilitate my interest in experimental and computational condensed matter physics through exposure to a renowned research environment. Immersed in the scientific community, viewing research methodologies and the collaboration process would build cornerstones I believe would benefit my education in science. Furthermore, individual research experience synchronizes well with my career goal of obtaining a post-baccalaureate degree in physics, or a related technical field. Research groups pertaining to my interest include ***’s group investigating spin dynamics and transport using simple devices, ****’s group examining the condensed matter physics of complex and disordered systems, and *****’s group observing high-temperature superconductivity and low-dimensional magnetism.
Having carried out four physics courses with laboratory sequences, one of which focusing on laboratory instrumentation and computer interfacing, I feel sufficiently prepared to perform a variety of laboratory tasks associated with physics research. In my first two years, I’ve completed numerous spreadsheet and statistical analyses, several formal written reports, and five individual projects in astronomy, physics, and computer science. Throughout my education I’ve participated, or am currently enrolled, in courses concerning C, C++, Java, MATLAB, Mathematica, and LabVIEW programming languages, as well as using Linux, Unix, and LateX. Computer programming has always been a strength of mine, and I would jump at the chance to apply it to physics.
Furthermore, I believe I would bring, as a Filipino, an underrepresented minority into physics. I am the first in my extended family to study a natural science, and I believe my work ethic is rooted in determination and perseverance.
In summary, participation in University of Minnesota REU in physics would benefit my science education, career goals, and personal curiosity about the scientific research environment.
I'm at 418 words and i'm not sure what to cut
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Jan22-13, 03:49 AM
QuarkCharmer's Avatar
P: 1,035
It doesn't seem like there are many "I's" in there. To me intro reads like an essay for an English course, or a brief history of the field, rather than a personal essay. I may be wrong in giving you this advice, but I would word it in such a way that in conveys why YOU are interested in their program. How you think their program would benefit you, and how you could benefit their program. If you lack community service, talk about your desire to work with other people to tackle problems. Explain why you chose to apply to their program, and what specifically interests you. They don't need a brief history of the field. I also don't know if I would mention "I believe I would bring, as a Filipino, an underrepresented minority into physics." But I WOULD state that you are Fillipino and mention that one of the reasons you are interested in whatever it is they do there is because of <insert some story about being Fillipino and being the first on in your family to...>

But that's just my two cents.
Jan22-13, 03:44 PM
P: 14
Thanks for the input. I thought I's weren't supposed to be used in formal writing? (hence the limited usage)

Jan23-13, 04:06 AM
QuarkCharmer's Avatar
P: 1,035
REU Personal Essay

You might be correct there. But I don't know if a "personal" essay counts as formal in this case. That's just what I took away from reading it, perhaps someone else can chime in.
Jan23-13, 11:26 AM
HW Helper
G01's Avatar
P: 2,685
Quote Quote by Invyz View Post
I thought I's weren't supposed to be used in formal writing? (hence the limited usage)
This is a situation where using the first person is important!

The stigma of using the first person is scientific writing is overblown, in my opinion. There are of course situations where focus on yourself should be avoided (in the description of experimental methods in a journal article for instance). Yet, many of the well written scientific articles and reports I have seen are not afraid to use the first person where appropriate if it makes the science clearer or the paper easier to read.

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