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Programs PhD project

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Monique

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I was wondering whether it is normal to apply for a PhD student position, without actually knowing what your responsibilities will be. Normally researchers advertise with a job opening in which they specify what the research question is that needs to be tackled and what techniques shall be used for it.

Today I had an informal introductory interview and I was expecting to be informed what the niche would be for the project, instead I was asked why I wanted to join the group and what I would like to study in it.. it caught me off gard, since there are a million things you could study (functional genomics of cancer biology).

So friday I'll have an official meeting with the research group and I'll be presenting some of my own research to them, but this thing feels a bit fuzzy to me. I guess I'll dive into their literature and see if I can come up with a research question that fits into the scope of their laboratory..
 

HallsofIvy

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Actually, it seems to me that when you were asked why you wanted the position was an excellent time to "confess" that you did not know exactly what the position entailed doing. If you don't know before that, you should certainly ask at the meeting with the group.
 

Monique

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I know exactly the research track that they take, but there are 7 postdocs, 6 graduate students and 3 technitians working on 25,000 genes.. hard to know exactly what goes on behind closed doors.

I asked what the research would entail, he said he couldn't tell me: I need to find out myself. He likes to keep his students free, but normally they recruit students from inside the institution and don't advertise for positions. I'm confused, but I'll find out exactly what recent students have published in the past years and find out whether that suits me.
 
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Monique said:
I'm confused, but I'll find out exactly what recent students have published in the past years and find out whether that suits me.
Great idea. I am currently doing a phd at IMEC in Leuven, Belgium. When i applied the topic of my phd was also not fixed. They more or less asked me how i would like to cooperate in the nanotechnology developments (high k dielectrics and MOSFETS more generally) given the fact i have a theoretical physics background from college. I ansered that i would like to keep the topic closely related to theory but this theory should result in clear and practical implementations. Not something like string theory :)

So the example i gave basically was DFT (density functional theory) which is used to solve the Schrodinger equation for many body physics. Then we use this code to simulate the influence of defects in the gate oxide, by using computer software...

GOOD LUCK on your application

marlon
 

Monique

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marlon said:
GOOD LUCK on your application

marlon
Thanks marlon!

Today I presented my own work, had one-on-one meetings with some other PhD students in the lab and attended their work discussion over lunch (in total spent 6 hours there) and I have a clear idea now what I would like to do.

The people were fun, although I felt some were giving me all kinds of warnings.. not sure why.. I think ungrounded ("the work is very technical".. what labwork is not?; "you don't know whether after all the work you get anything interesting".. that's research; "but.. do you know how to do a western blot or do cell culture".. right.. that's basic molecular biology :rolleyes:).

I'm giving myself some time to think about it, so we'll see.
 

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