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Programs PhD Preparation

  1. Apr 5, 2010 #1
    Hi All,

    I've browsed the forums a bit and saw the community is both helpful and insightful, so I felt it wouldn't hurt to ask for some input.

    First, a little bit about me - I'm a sophomore at Arizona State, majoring in Medicinal Biochemistry. As of right now, I spent my first year and a half of college elucidating the secondary structure of proteins in spider silk using an array of physical chemistry methodologies (primarily NMR). From my involvement in several projects, I've been published once in the ACS Journal of Biomacromolecues, a communications draft is being sent to Physics Review Letters regarding some Brillouin scattering work, and there are at least 2 or 3 more papers in the pipeline with my name as secondary author.

    Right now, though I'm only in training (my 6th week actually), I work with next-gen self-assembling protein micro-arrays (too many hyphens in that name) to study cancer (long story short - ask me for details if you care. I have a nifty idea I'm trying to push through!).

    I prefer to explain myself as a researcher rather than technician since I spend much of my time combing literature and trying to come up with my own original thought rather than carry out orders. At this point many of my ideas end up having to go through a long crystallization process, because of my ignorance (remember, I'm a sophomore).

    I spent one summer working full time (those coveted 60+ hours a week) in my old lab and came face to face with failure many many many times over, and am not so much afraid of it as I am just upset that it takes me so many times to get something right.

    Though I am aware that planning for graduate school means considering who to work for and where the school is, my near future goal is to go to one of the top schools in the country (UCSF, Yale, Michigan) for their interdisciplinary phd programs that I'm attracted to. To even compete for these programs I feel I need to be much better than what I am now. On paper I may have the credentials to do a PhD at a "good" school that lacks what and who I want to work on and with, but to get into a "great" school that has what I'm looking for I feel I need to up the ante.

    Aside from research, I've taught 1-credit hour class (about to do it twice), right now am the president of our undergraduate chemistry club, and have several awards and recognitions under my belt, and can call on some relatively big names for Letters of Rec from professors that I'm on a first name basis with (yes, even instructors). But now for the caveat, because of my involvement and 20 credit hour semesters, and whatever other excuse I can pull up, my GPA fell to a 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.

    Does anyone have an input?


  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2010 #2
    To have any real chance of getting accepted by any of those "great" schools you were talking about, you do need to step it up a little. I would see what you can do about maybe teaching some grad-level classes and running your own lab. I'm also guessing that some schools might question your work ethic if they see that you're only taking 20 credits per semester. You should try to get that number up into the 25-30 range.
    The fact that you have only been published in journals also worries me. You would make a much more attractive PhD candidate if you had a couple of books published.
  4. Apr 5, 2010 #3
    You had me going right up to that last bit. :P
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