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School selection - biophysics (international student)

Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:46 am
by lenivix
Hi :)

I'm currently trying to finalise my list of schools to apply for at the minute and could use some help! I've decided I would very much like to go into biophysics research - I'm wondering about one thing, however. Is it generally more advisable to apply to a regular physics program and specialise in biophysics, or apply mostly for pure biophysics programs instead?

A bit of background about myself - I'm am international student (Irish female, so native English speaker at least). GPA of ~3.87 and two summers of research experience (one in a related field, one in optics) with a co-authored publication in press. I'm still waiting for my official general GRE results, but have a verbal range of between 560-660, and quantitative 710-800. I expect the writing score will be decent. I'm travelling over to Kent in England in 2 weeks to do the physics GRE, I'm guessing a lot depends on my score for that, with regards to where I have a realistic chance.

So far, I have decided to apply to Cornell, Brown, UW Seattle (all physics) and also Harvard (SEAS, biophysics track). I'm also considering UC Davis (biophysics).

What I'd like in particular is advice/suggestions of other "reasonable" schools with good biophysics research. - e.g., where I might have a more decent chance for admission. The whole application process seems extremely daunting at the moment - no one else I've ever come into contact with here has gone through the process before, it's really not a common thing to do for Irish students as far as I can tell. It's something I'd really like to do, however, so I figure I might as well give it my best shot. Any advice appreciated, thanks.

Re: School selection - biophysics (international student)

Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:34 pm
by michael
Another two places you should maybe look at are 1) the University of Pennsylvania (not Penn State), and 2) NYU. They are both fairly competitive to get into (but less so than Harvard at least), but they are schools that are well known in soft condensed matter / biophysics.

Re: School selection - biophysics (international student)

Posted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 8:56 pm
by pqortic
you might want to look at northeastern as well. they have a pretty good biophysics group.

Re: School selection - biophysics (international student)

Posted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:39 am
by grae313
UIUC has the CPLC, Taekjip Ha, Yan Chemla, (both huge names in single-molecule biophysics) etc.
UC Berkeley has Bustamante, an HHMI investigator and another huge name in single-molecule biophysics
Stanford has Block, same as above.
You're already applying to Cornell but let me add that we have the Molecular Biophysics Training Grant funded by NIH that funds students in biophysics and related fields for up to two years that you'd have no problem getting through either physics or biophysics. Let me know if you have any questions about Cornell biophysics.

I think your choice to apply to physics or biophysics is going to depend on both the specific programs offered at each school and what you plan to do with it afterward. Physics might be better geared towards staying in academia and biophysics might be more geared towards industry and research labs, but you'll have to look into the specifics of the programs at each school. Ultimately I don't think it will have a huge impact on your career after graduation.

Re: School selection - biophysics (international student)

Posted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:48 am
by lenivix
Thanks very much, that's really helpful advice grae. I like the look of UIUC actually, I hadn't looked into it yet. Cornell is near the top of my list in terms of preference, I may have questions for you about biophysics there in due course. :)

Personally, at the moment I don't feel particularly inclined towards staying in academia after getting a PhD - more towards research labs/industry. I think it's hard to be sure at this stage, though. It probably is just a case of looking a bit further into the specifics of what each school is doing, and going with what I like the most.

As to where will accept me, that's another story :|

Re: School selection - biophysics (international student)

Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:19 pm
by bfollinprm
Rice just hired away a bunch of people from the UC's in biophysics. Like, for instance, the entire biophysics group at UCSD.

Re: School selection - biophysics (international student)

Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:09 am
by EasterSudharta
I think its better if you focus on biophysics programs.

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Re: School selection - biophysics (international student)

Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:58 am
by blighter
EasterSudharta wrote:I think its better if you focus on biophysics programs.

Thank you Captain Hindsight!