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Biology graduate hoping to go to graduate school in astrophysics. Need some advice?

  1. Jun 5, 2012 #1
    Hello, this is my first time to post to ask for some advice. I will try to describe as neat as possible, so that I can some good info or advice.

    I graduated 2 years ago with bachelor of science in biology as major and applied physics as minor.
    Now I'm hoping to get into graduate school in astrophysics for fall 2014 semester.

    So my reason for studying astrophysics, as many other astrophsycis students or professionals would be, is that that was my first reason why I got in to science and stars and blackhole are always fascinating to me.
    My first major was physics, but I sort of lost my purpose why I was studying physics and didn't get long with other people in the class. So I switched to biology, and did as a major.
    However I still love math, physics and I want to do research in thie field as my career for my whole life.

    So those are my background and reasons..

    The problems are...

    1) I dont' have physics degree, though as a minor.
    2) I got terrible grades(I mean really terrible) - 2.9/4.5
    3) I do not have any research experience in astrophysics or any other field
    4) I don't think I can get a strong recommendation letter at this moment.

    The solutions that I've been thinking are...

    1) I've been studying computer science by myself - math, programming and linux stuff, and I'm going to study computer network in San Francisco next year. Also I heard programming skill is pretty beneficial in astrophsyics field.

    So I was thinking that maybe I can get some intern/technician job for computer stuff at lab while I'm getting involved with research. - It won't have to be paid. ;)

    This way I can learn more hands on, and getting to know professors, and of course gain experience.

    2) Study physics again with Feymann lecture note and MIT OCW. Since I admit that I need to really brush up my physics, I will be pretty commited to study as my project next year.

    My research interests are blackhole information paradox at this moment and multiverse. I would need to specify more precisely as I apply for graduate school, but now those are my interests.

    So I would love to hear any opinion or advice regard to my problem-solution matter. Also it would be great to hear from anyone who studied biology and got into astrophyiscs graduate school.

    Thank you very much for reading my post!

    P.S) Just in case that some might suggest about astrobiology, I'm not really interested in it now. :)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 5, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Re: Biology graduate hoping to go to graduate school in astrophysics. Need some advic

    Yes it will. There are minimum wage laws, at least for US universities.

    More problematic is that these positions are usually filled by people who already have their PhD's.
     
  4. Jun 5, 2012 #3
    Re: Biology graduate hoping to go to graduate school in astrophysics. Need some advic

    Not for interns. Several labs at both my undergrad and graduate institutions had unpaid interns (generally eager highschool kids), and I've seen job advertisements looking to fill unpaid internships in industry.
     
  5. Jun 5, 2012 #4

    micromass

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    Re: Biology graduate hoping to go to graduate school in astrophysics. Need some advic

    I don't want to sound harsh, but I don't think you know where you're getting yourself into. You hardly know anything about physics, so you don't know whether you will like doing research in it.

    Your GPA is not good enough to get into grad school, especially not when you're not a physics major. Your best bet would be to go back to college and get a physics degree (with a good GPA and recommendation letters). But this will cost you much time and money.

    Are you willing to put in all the effort? Is astrophysics research not just an unrealistic dream you have. I'm not saying not to go for it, but please think long and hard about what you're going to do. If you're going to go for it, you need to give yourself 100% for years in a row.
     
  6. Jun 6, 2012 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    Re: Biology graduate hoping to go to graduate school in astrophysics. Need some advic

    One cannot take a job that someone else is getting paid for and simply call it an internship. There are state and federal laws (FLSA) about this. There are a number of rules (six) and the most relevant are #4: "The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and may actually be impeded by his/her presence" and #3: "The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff".
     
  7. Jun 6, 2012 #6
    Re: Biology graduate hoping to go to graduate school in astrophysics. Need some advic

    Hi~blakholeinfo~
    I'm kind of in the same situation as you are. I'm about to graduate from EE and I want to apply for cosmology or particle physics. You can read my thread here, https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=611028
    Some nice people have already given me many advice. Maybe it would help you.
     
  8. Jun 7, 2012 #7
    Re: Biology graduate hoping to go to graduate school in astrophysics. Need some advic

    Yes, but I was simply suggesting the original poster could look for unpaid internships in labs.

    Also, I suspect that those rules are not strictly enforced, as the unpaid interns that I have known in university labs were highschool students doing work that normally undergrads would be paid to do and it certainly was of immediate advantage to the lab.
     
  9. Jun 7, 2012 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    Re: Biology graduate hoping to go to graduate school in astrophysics. Need some advic

    Well, you're the lawyer. You would know.
     
  10. Jun 26, 2012 #9
    Re: Biology graduate hoping to go to graduate school in astrophysics. Need some advic

    Finally I can log in! Thank you very much for all your advice!

    Actually I studied physics for 2 years in my undergraduate before I changed into biology, so it is not completely nothing that I have for physics.
    Since I have minor in physics, it prevents me from getting second bachelor in physics, but not good gpa to apply for graduate school right away.
    So currently I've started to study Feynman lecture on physics, and studying linear algebra. I'm willing to take time and effort since not only it has been my interests all the time but also that I want to give my 100% at least once in my life time.
    Even if nothing works out with my attempt, I have other back up plans in "worst" case.

    As for unpaid internship at lab, I do not know any rules about that. I'm just hoping to get involved with research even if it's minor job.

    Anyway, thanks again guys!
     
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