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REU statement of purpose help

  • Thread starter anti-light
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  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi everyone, I'm a junior physics and math double major applying for summer REU in physics. Since this is my first REU application and also I haven't had previous research experience of any sort, how do I go about editing my statement of purpose written below. P.S. I'm international student and have very few chance of getting a stipend or getting into a program if any. However, I've narrowed down my list to about 5 REU programs and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Anyway here's my statement of purpose. Any helpful comments or feedbacks will be greatly appreciated:

I’ve always been curious to why nature works the way it does and always have thought if everything in this universe can be generalized in some form of mathematical formula. As a kid I used to stare at the night sky wondering who that creator was that had knowledge of everything, mathematical formulas and axioms to every bit, from microscopic to macroscopic world. I’ve always wanted to crack this natural code which aroused my interest in Science especially Physics and Mathematics.
It all started with my interest in Star wars and Dexter’s Laboratory show premiered in cartoon network when I was in 4th grade. I was yet unable to differentiate between various areas of Science, however, me along with my friends set out to build a “satellite” using firework rockets, a box and a solar panel taken out of my dad’s broken calculator. As the years passed by, my interest in Physics and Math increased along with it. I was curious about every natural event and tried to analyze it and gave “scientific” explanation, even though it was an elementary level explanation.
I went on to high school program specializing in Science. In high school I was actively involved in scientific committee whereby students gathered to discuss latest development in technologies. It was there where someone brought up about recent development in string theory in Physics. I was really intrigued by the concept that everything is made up of tiny vibrating strings so I decided to take up Physics major in college and further explore the area of string theory.
To fortify my skills in Physics I declared Math as my other major, however, my idea and path regarding theoretical research in string theory was criticized by my advisor and couple other physics professor. At first I was defensive about my academic path; however, after doing research about that topic I realized I was going off in a tangent. So with my advisor’s advice and my new interest I decided to pursue physics of chaotic system and quantum mechanics and its application to Astro and particle physics. Although I’ve had very little research background, I’ve been working in my modern physics lab to understand the various concepts of quantum mechanics and chaotic behavior in nature. Besides that I’ve started independent study in non-linear dynamics and chaotic model to understand the erratic model in everyday world ranging from microscopic to macroscopic level.
I believe with this solar research experience over summer, I’ll further expand my knowledge in various phenomenons occurring in our sun and sharpen my knowledge of non-linear dynamics to understand and solve the mysteries behind solar behavior, thereby learning to apply my theoretical skills in experimental field. I have a high hope that this research experience will expand my horizon and provide me with set of skills which will be useful when I apply to graduate program in dynamics of complex system in universe thus aiding my success in graduate school. Furthermore, this will narrow down my more general field of concentration in complex dynamics and apply it to more specific solar research.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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As a general rule, it's best not to mention your childhood experiences in statements of purpose. For example, the fact that a kid played with Legos when he was 5 is not relevant to his decision to become a civil engineer when he is 18. In your case, you can safely cut out most of the 1st half of your essay (where you talk about your pre-highschool experiences).

Also, don't say that you have "very little" research experience. You worked in a lab; that is more research experience than many students have had. You could instead write that you "would like to gain more direct research experience" or something of that sort.

EDIT: It shows significant academic and personal maturity that you were able to listen to criticism from your advisor and other professors. IMO this is one of the strengths of your essay.
 
  • #3
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Hi anti-light, welcome to PF. I'd drop everything before "I decided to pursue physics of chaotic system..." and expand the material after it with the specifics of (1) what you have done in lab, (2) what is the most interesting thing you've encountered in your independent study of nonlinear dynamics, and (3) what kind of solar research you plan to do. The earlier material is a bit cliche, and why discuss a field you didn't go into? Distinguish yourself with details about your current work and current plans. Show your possible future boss that you have ideas and insight into your chosen field.
 
  • #4
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To add what has been said.

What are you trying to do? You're trying to get them to select you. Therefore, you need to make sure everything you say works towards that goal. Do you think it's likely that someone would say, "Well, I wasn't going to hire him, but now that I know he likes Dexter's Laboratory..."? If not, you should use that space to say something that would change his mind.
 
  • #5
Hi everyone thanks for your feedback. I've trimmed down some unimportant cliche and tried including my ongoing theoretical research. I'm sorry to be so demanding but please send me some more feedback:

I’ve always been curious to why nature works the way it does and always have thought if everything in this universe can be generalized in some form of mathematical formula. As a kid I used to stare at the night sky wondering who that creator was that had knowledge of everything, mathematical formulas and axioms to every bit, from microscopic to macroscopic world. I’ve always wanted to crack this natural code which aroused my interest in Science especially Physics and Mathematics.
I went on to high school program specializing in Science. In high school I was actively involved in scientific committee whereby students gathered to discuss latest development in technologies. It was there where someone brought up about recent development in string theory in Physics. I was really intrigued by the concept that everything is made up of tiny vibrating strings so I decided to take up Physics major in college and further explore the area of string theory.
To fortify my skills in Physics I declared Math as my other major, however, my idea and path regarding theoretical research in string theory was criticized by my advisor and couple other physics professor. At first I was defensive about my academic path; however, after doing research about that topic I realized I was going off in a tangent. So with my advisor’s advice and my new interest I decided to pursue physics of chaotic system and quantum mechanics and its application to Astro and particle physics. I’ve been working in my modern physics lab to understand the various concepts of quantum mechanics and chaotic behavior in nature. Besides that I’ve started independent study in non-linear dynamics and chaotic model to understand the erratic model in everyday world ranging from microscopic to macroscopic level.
Moreover, my knowledge of mathematics has helped me understand the theoretical concepts behind the lab experiments more concretely than my fellow physics majors at my university. I was aware of this fact after having figured out in depth about differences in scalar and vector system in my Physics class as a result of having taken advanced math classes which my fellow classmates were not able to answer. Also using my mathematical knowledge and self study/ analysis, I’ve worked on tackling my own version of cosmological model of big bang based on prime numbers. Besides that I’ve also been working on independent theoretical research on “hacking fiber optics using Compton effect in oscillating electron suspended in between positive electric field” My advisor was really impressed with this analytical creativity and has been providing some assistance in this expansion of this theory. Although this theoretical research hasn’t led to any promising results, I have found new insights and application of oscillating electrons.
Since I’ve mostly been involved with theoretical research, I’m willing to apply these knowledge and my mathematical skills to solar research at Montana State’s physics program, specially “Heating and cooling of plasma in Solar flares” or “Looking for heating function of solar coronal loops.” However, I’ll be pretty much open to any research that is available because I believe with this solar research experience over summer, I’ll further expand my knowledge in various phenomenons occurring in our sun and sharpen my knowledge of non-linear dynamics to understand and solve the mysteries behind solar behavior, thereby learning to apply my analytical, theoretical and mathematical skills in experimental field. I have a high hope that this research experience will expand my horizon and provide me with set of skills which will be useful when I apply to graduate program in dynamics of complex system of early universe thus aiding my success in graduate school. Furthermore, I hope this research will narrow down my interest from more general field of concentration in complex dynamics and apply it to more specific research in solar system.
 
  • #6
I’ve always been curious to why nature works the way it does and always have thought if everything in this universe can be generalized in some form of mathematical formula. As a kid I used to stare at the night sky wondering who that creator was that had knowledge of everything, mathematical formulas and axioms to every bit, from microscopic to macroscopic world. I’ve always wanted to crack this natural code which aroused my interest in Science especially Physics and Mathematics.
I went on to high school program specializing in Science. In high school I was actively involved in scientific committee whereby students gathered to discuss latest development in technologies. It was there where someone brought up about recent development in string theory in Physics. I was really intrigued by the concept that everything is made up of tiny vibrating strings so I decided to take up Physics major in college and further explore the area of string theory.
To fortify my skills in Physics I declared Math as my other major, however, my idea and path regarding theoretical research in string theory was criticized by my advisor and couple other physics professor. At first I was defensive about my academic path; however, after doing research about that topic I realized I was going off in a tangent. So with my advisor’s advice and my new interest I decided to pursue physics of chaotic system and quantum mechanics and its application to Astro and particle physics.
I would say that this part still needs to go. What you did in high school isn't really important. And it doesn't make any sense to say that you were interested in string theory but were later convinced that it was the wrong path. As others have already said, you need to focus on a few things to tell the committee, and what is quoted above most certainly shouldn't be included in those few things.

anti-light said:
Moreover, my knowledge of mathematics has helped me understand the theoretical concepts behind the lab experiments more concretely than my fellow physics majors at my university. I was aware of this fact after having figured out in depth about differences in scalar and vector system in my Physics class as a result of having taken advanced math classes which my fellow classmates were not able to answer
This is likely to tell the reviewers one of two things; one is useless to you, the other possibly harmful:
1. You think highly of yourself or
2. You think poorly of your fellow students.

In other words it doesn't tell them anything they need to know.
 
  • #7
thanks every one. I've gotten rid of all the unnecessary part as you guys have told and stayed to the point. I've also excluded my "arrogance"
 
  • #8
Okay this is one last time I'm asking for help. How's my personal statement's final draft?

PERSONAL STATEMENT
I’ve always been curious to why nature works the way it does. I’ve tried to speculate if everything in this universe can be generalized in some form of mathematical formula. As a kid I used to stare at the night sky wondering who the creator was that had knowledge of “absolute reality,” mathematical formulas and axioms to every bit, from microscopic to macroscopic world. I’ve always wanted to crack this natural code which aroused my interest in Science especially Physics and Mathematics.
In college I declared Physics major, and to fortify my skills in Physics, I declared Math as my other major in my junior year. So with my advisor’s advice and my interest I decided to pursue physics of chaotic system, quantum mechanics and its application to Astro-particle physics. I’ve worked in my modern physics lab to understand the various concepts of quantum mechanics and chaotic behavior in nature. Besides that I’ve started independent study in non-linear dynamics and chaotic model to understand the erratic model in everyday world ranging from microscopic to macroscopic level.
Moreover, my knowledge of mathematics has helped me understand the theoretical concepts behind the lab experiments more concretely than before. I became aware of this fact after having figured out the differences, in depth, about the scalar and vector system in my Physics class as a result of having taken advanced math. Also using my mathematical knowledge and self study/analysis, I’ve worked on tackling my own version of cosmological model of big bang based on prime numbers. Besides that I’ve also been working on independent theoretical research on “hacking fiber optics using Compton Effect using oscillating electron suspended between positive electric field.” Although this theoretical research hasn’t led to any promising results, I have found new insights and application that an oscillating electrons can bring. My advisor was really impressed with this analytical creativity and has been providing some assistance in this expansion of this theory. Also on one occasion she told me that “Arthur Eddington would be proud of you if he was alive” when I told her my idea about “modeling big bang using spiraling prime numbers.”
On top of that I’ve discussed the philosophical inquiry about generating the analogy between duality after big bang and a rotating magnetic field with one of the professors. Likewise to share my idea about duality in nature, I’ve also published a general paper(not academic) on “academic publishing” section of pro-theory forum(protheory.com), where theorist from different field discuss the possibility of generalizing “theory of everything” in terms of positive, negative or neutral. Likewise my research and presentation about the HAARP project in geo-physics was critically acclaimed by physics faculty department.
Since I’ve mostly been involved with theoretical research, I wish to apply these knowledge and my mathematical skills to Experimental solar research at Montana State’s physics program, specially “Heating and cooling of plasma in Solar flares” or “Looking for heating function of solar coronal loops.” However, with my wide areas of interest, I’ll be pretty much open to any research that is available. I believe this solar research experience over summer will expand my knowledge in various phenomenons occurring in our sun. Besides, I’ll have chance to sharpen my knowledge of non-linear dynamics by understanding the mysteries behind solar behavior, thereby learning to apply my analytical, theoretical and mathematical skills in that experimental research. I have a high hope that this research experience will expand my horizon and provide me with set of skills which will be useful when I apply to graduate program in dynamics of complex system in early universe, thus aiding my success in graduate school. Furthermore, I hope this research will narrow down my interest from more general field of concentration in complex dynamics and apply it to more specific research in solar system.
 
  • #9
465
1
I wouldn't mention the stuff about protheory.com. I just checked it out, and while it looks harmless, it quickly became clear that it is not a serious scientific website. They will want to know that you are serious about science, and I think that mentioning protheory.com will make you look like a potential crackpot. I'm not trying to be harsh - just honest. That's what my reaction would be.
 
  • #10
Assuming that the concept of duality paper posted on the forums on protheory.com is yours... It's not something you would want them to read.
 
  • #11
haha yea that is mine its kind of lame which i wrote when in my freshman year when i was still learning A,B,Cs of physics. Having re read it again today, even I realized its kind of amateur thinking.
 

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