PhD in CSME/Computational Physics/Biophysics from maths background

  • #1
asfhjkjhasfhk
5
0
Hello,

I’m looking to apply for CSME/computational physics/biophysics PhDs in America starting in September 2024. I'm a bit scared about physics departments just because whilst I have mechanics, QM and Stat Mech I have never taken any atomic/electrodynamic classes.

I would like to know if my application to physics grad school with computational specialism or biophysics specialism would be at all viable given the missing classes.

I’m from the UK my educational background is as follows:

1 year UK Physics MSc at a worldwide QS top 10 uni (Imperial/UCL). GPA: 3.6/3.7 Relevant Modules: Techniques of High Performance Computing (A, top of the class), Research Computing with C++ (A, probably 90th/95th percentile), Molecular Biophysics A, Quantum Computing A. Bad modules: Advanced Quantum Theory B, Advanced Statistical Mechanics (C-/F: condoned fail but would be a pass if I was a UG).

Research: Distributed Quantum Computing Thesis (20-40 pages, Distributing quantum circuits and classically simulating them using GPUs allowing one to study how entanglement errors affect circuit outcome). Distributed Quantum Computing Literature Review (5000 words). Case Study/Mock Review Article on a Quantum Computing technique used for molecular simulation (1500 word article + presentation + poster)

TA: TA'd an introductory programming class.

3 year UK Mathematics BSc at QS top 50 uni. GPA 3.4. Relevant Modules: Mathematical Programming A Linear Algebra (A, upper division/proof based) Quantum Mechanics A. Also took ODEs/PDEs/Mechanics/Stat Mech (A-/B) etc.

Research: Simulating a 2D Metamaterial and computationally deriving its normal modes.

Other Research Experience: 3 Months at US National Lab this summer working on the following: creating a high performance pipeline to analyse molecular dynamics trajectories of a biological system + Coarse graining an all atom system + Running my own enhanced sampling simulation on supercomputers. I presented a poster on my work at the intern student symposium.

Professional experience: 3 Months at a bank in their trading department. Using code to backtest/analyse potential trades.

Publications: I should be middle author on 2+ papers from my work at the US National Lab. I should be able to publish something first author from my MSc thesis or at least do a conference poster.

Please let me know what universities would be appropriate with this background and anything I can do to maximise my chances in the short time before application season.

Thank you.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Just to clarify. You have no coursework at all (either undergrad or grad) in E&M?
 
  • #3
Is this correct? (Upper division)
  • Classical Mechanics - taken as part of a math class in differential equations
  • E&M - did not take
  • QM - A
  • Stat Mech - took two courses, F on the second
  • Lab - did not take
 
  • #4
Vanadium 50 said:
Is this correct? (Upper division)
  • Classical Mechanics - taken as part of a math class in differential equations
  • E&M - did not take
  • QM - A
  • Stat Mech - took two courses, F on the second
  • Lab - did not take
[*] Classical Mechanics - B in “upper division” course taken as separate course includes ( principle of least action, calc of variations and Lagrangians/Hamiltonians)
[*] E/M - did not take
[*] QM - A in “Upper division” course, B in grad
[*] Stat Mech - A in “Upper Division” course, F in grad (yes ouch I know)
[*] ODES - A, upper division, separate course (stability, linearisation, lyapnov method)
[*]lab - did not take
 
Last edited:
  • #5
CrysPhys said:
Just to clarify. You have no coursework at all (either undergrad or grad) in E&M?
Yes that is correct.
 
  • #6
So of the 5 core courses I listed, you got an A, a B and an F, and didn't take two. Honestly, this is going to close a lot of doors. I would probably look for programs offered by departments other than physics, which will minimize the impact of this.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50 said:
So of the 5 core courses I listed, you got an A, a B and an F, and didn't take two. Honestly, this is going to close a lot of doors. I would probably look for programs offered by departments other than physics, which will minimize the impact of this.
I agree/understand. I will certainly avoid applying for straight physics programs. I am also aware that - if I get in anywhere - it will be at least 30-50 places down the rankings compared to my BS/MS unis.

Whilst I would love to be based in a physics department, I would be happy as long as my supervisor is based there.

Would you mind evaluating the following strategy? Also, should I take the physics GRE?

1. Apply for programs that whilst based in the physics department have some computational/biophysics specialism and a joint admissions committee. E.g GA Tech CSE, UCSD CSME. These, given my background, I imagine will likely be the hardest to get into.

2. Apply for programs that are a bit vaguer and have more general admissions requirements and are not necessarily based in the physics department eg Cornell Applied Physics (Based in the Engineering department, "Applicants should have undergraduate preparation in physics or another physical science or in an engineering field with a strong emphasis on mathematics and modern physics.") or Berkley Computational Biology ("We invite applications from students with distinguished academic records, strong foundations in the basic biological, physical and computational sciences, as well as significant computer programming and research experience."). I think I should have a good shot at programs like this. I understand Cornell/Berkley are perhaps too competitive, I'm giving these programs as examples!

3. Apply for programs where individual professors have a lot of leverage in admissions and discuss with the relevant professors. TBC.
 
  • #8
I can't decide your strategy for you. I can say that having the missing coursework that you have and the low grade you have will hurt you more in physics programs than other programs. Additionally, the PGRE will be difficult without E&M, experimental methods (yes, they ask) and a shakiness at best in Stat Mech.
 
  • #9
asfhjkjhasfhk said:
3. Apply for programs where individual professors have a lot of leverage in admissions and discuss with the relevant professors. TBC.
Are you restricting yourself to US schools only? This option sounds more applicable to European universities in which professors post specific job openings for PhD studentships and students apply for specific job openings. Given your somewhat erratic academic record, perhaps this might be a viable route if you are a close match to what a specific professor wants.
 
  • #10
CrysPhys said:
Are you restricting yourself to US schools only? This option sounds more applicable to European universities in which professors post specific job openings for PhD studentships and students apply for specific job openings. Given your somewhat erratic academic record, perhaps this might be a viable route if you are a close match to what a specific professor wants.
I'd significantly prefer US schools. I had decent luck last year applying for schools in London when I had a significantly worse background so I'll likely apply again as a back up.

I think I'll take the Physics GRE, if taking that will make a difference. I had a look and if 60th/70th percentile is 40/50% raw marks as it seems (or at least used to be) then it seems doable. I've covered some generic physics I to III stuff in my high school education (UK A-Levels) so that combined with the modules I've taken shouldn't be awful.
 

Related to PhD in CSME/Computational Physics/Biophysics from maths background

What prerequisites are required for a PhD in CSME/Computational Physics/Biophysics with a maths background?

Prerequisites often include a strong foundation in mathematics, including courses in calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and numerical methods. Additionally, some knowledge of programming languages like Python, C++, or MATLAB is highly beneficial. Familiarity with basic physics and computational techniques can also be advantageous.

How can a maths background be advantageous for a PhD in these fields?

A maths background provides a solid foundation for understanding and developing computational models and algorithms, which are integral to CSME, Computational Physics, and Biophysics. Mathematical skills such as problem-solving, logical reasoning, and quantitative analysis are crucial for research and can lead to innovative solutions and methodologies in these interdisciplinary fields.

What research opportunities are available in these PhD programs?

Research opportunities are vast and can include areas such as numerical simulation of physical systems, computational modeling of biological processes, development of new algorithms for scientific computing, and interdisciplinary projects that combine elements of physics, biology, and mathematics. Collaboration with other departments and industries is also common, providing a broad range of potential research topics.

What career paths can one pursue after completing a PhD in CSME/Computational Physics/Biophysics?

Graduates can pursue careers in academia, conducting research and teaching at universities. They can also work in industry sectors such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, aerospace, and software development, where computational skills are highly valued. Additionally, opportunities exist in government research labs and private research institutions.

How long does it typically take to complete a PhD in these fields?

The duration of a PhD program can vary, but it typically takes around 4-6 years to complete. This includes coursework, comprehensive exams, and the completion of original research culminating in a dissertation. The exact timeline can depend on the specific requirements of the program and the nature of the research project.

Similar threads

  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
28
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
2
Replies
36
Views
917
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
6
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
9
Views
576
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
2
Replies
41
Views
7K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
1
Views
1K
Back
Top