Biophysics?

LB
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Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:06 pm

Biophysics?

Postby LB » Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:20 pm

Hey,

I'm a junior physics/math student, but I've been seriously in love with biology (especially molecular) after taking a couple of courses as electives. Therefore, I'm thinking about choosing Biophysics as my top option for grad school in a year and a half when I get out of school.

I just wanted to ask about people's experience with Biophysics grad programs and acceptance to some of the better schools, coming from a physics oriented background. I'm a top 10% student at a school with a reasonably good physics reputation (UT Austin). I also hope to have over a year of research in the area and hopefully a publication, as well as good letters of recommendations.

If you have any experience with these programs, how selective do you think they would be? I'm thinking I stand a chance at getting into one of them, but I fear I haven't gone enough into biology (I'll have about 15 course-hours, 9 of those upper-division). I would also like to hear about how people with a math/physics background have fared in these programs, especially in the biology/biochemistry components.

Some of the schools I have in mind:

Stanford
UC Berkeley
Harvard
John Hopkins
UCLA
UC San Diego

Look forward to your input. Appreciate the help. 8)

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Helio
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby Helio » Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:53 pm

Ever thought about computational molecular bio. A lot of the biophysics people here do that as there research

And all the programs you listed are top 20, so it is very competitive. might want to consider applying as bio phd

LB
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby LB » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:37 am

I've certainly thought about computational biophysics as an option. I'm planning to take Computational Biology as one of my electives, which should give me a good idea if that is what I like.

My intended biology courses are:
Intro Cell/Molecular Biology 1 & 2
Genetics
Molecular Biology
Computational Biology

I didn't understand your comment about applying as Bio PhD. Wouldn't that be harder, since my background is heavily focused on physics?

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Helio
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby Helio » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:57 am

From what i heard from the people that do comp. bio most of the advisors at least a BS in physics and no real undergrad training in bio as such, so i would not worry about that too much. also some of the deals with protein structures and you need x-ray crystallography for that so you might be able to get your food in the door with that. also what i meant was that bio programs are usually not as competitive as physics, since some of the grads are all sucked up by premeds.

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fermiboy
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby fermiboy » Sat Mar 29, 2008 5:38 am

With good grades, a decent GRE score, and coming out of a great program like Texas, I think you would definitely be admitted to UCLA, UCSD, and Hopkins. The other schools are a crapshoot, even if you have perfect test scores, grades and research experience. I think you have a good list. Apply to all these schools, maybe add one "safety" and you'll be fine.

excel
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby excel » Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:29 am

1. *Several* faculty members in the comp bio area have told me something like: "It is much easier to teach the bio to quantitative majors than vice versa." So, if you have a strong quantitative background, you would be viewed favorably.
2. I know that the director of at least two well-known programs has PhD in physics. :mrgreen: There are several profs in this area with some sort of background in physics.
3. It may help you to be aware of the philosophy of these programs: Their qualifiers usually involve writing a NIH-style proposal and defending it. Although they have some 1st year core courses, they usually do not have any course-based qualifiers, prelims etc. Students start doing research immediately and do a lot of research for the duration of their graduate study. Simply put, these programs are research-intense, not course-intense. While I do not have conclusive evidence, I believe that this philosophy extends to their admission procedure: You may get in without even a single biology course, but it may be very difficult to get into a top program without a publication.

LB
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby LB » Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:07 am

Thanks for the comments fermi and excel.

I'll definitely add a couple of "safeties" when application time comes. I won't be taking the GRE-Ph until November (waiting until I take Stat Mech) and when I get results I should have a better idea of how low I need to set my "safeties".

It's good to hear that a physics/math background is viewed favorably. :)

I'm starting on Biophysics research this summer and will probably continue until the end of my degree, which I hope will be productive enough to land a couple of publications and strong recommendation letters from the professors I work with.

I do have the feeling that it'll just be a toss of the dice in the end, though. :(

rot80
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby rot80 » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:06 am

LB,

are you working in a lab already? You mentioned you will join research in the summer, is it a group in UT? I go to UT Phys grad program, we could talk more if you want, but since you still have some time before applying to grad schools I think you have a very good chance of making it into a very good school. Let me know, you can email me at rot80 at yahoo

tnoviell
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby tnoviell » Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:25 pm

LB,

I was a physics and math undergrad and got into Hopkins for Biophysics in 2007. I had zero biology experience, but I had a lot of research experience (around 4 years).

LB
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Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:06 pm

Re: Biophysics?

Postby LB » Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:45 pm

rot80, I'll send you an e-mail. Are you involved in any of the Biophysics groups here at UT?

tno, could you tell me more about yourself? Things like:

- Type of university you attended
- GPA
- Any special courses taken or honors
- Type of research/publications
- GRE Physics score (Assuming you took it)

Also, could you describe your experience at Hopkins so far?

Thanks!

fermiguy
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Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:29 pm

Re: Biophysics?

Postby fermiguy » Thu Apr 03, 2008 1:13 pm

LB wrote:Thanks for the comments fermi and excel.

I'll definitely add a couple of "safeties" when application time comes. I won't be taking the GRE-Ph until November (waiting until I take Stat Mech) and when I get results I should have a better idea of how low I need to set my "safeties".

It's good to hear that a physics/math background is viewed favorably. :)

I'm starting on Biophysics research this summer and will probably continue until the end of my degree, which I hope will be productive enough to land a couple of publications and strong recommendation letters from the professors I work with.

I do have the feeling that it'll just be a toss of the dice in the end, though. :(



+1 to the advice of Fermiboy and Excel..... You really need to apply to a lot of places because it is sad to say, but it can really be a toss up... if you search the forums you will find all kinds of people that got rejected from all kinds of schools but got acceptances to some of the toughest programs... I was told to apply to 3 "reach schools" aka hard to get into, 3 medium difficulty schools(such as some from the UC system) and 3 safety schools... I think that is a good spread for most applicants

doom
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby doom » Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:12 pm

Just so you know, waiting to get your Nov scores before deciding where to apply will put a big time crunch on your application process, especially since some of the top schools have deadlines in December.

There's not a whole lot of stat mech on the test, so you might want to do the Oct test instead if you want time to consider where your scores will be competitive.

LB
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Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:06 pm

Re: Biophysics?

Postby LB » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:14 pm

Thanks for the tip, doom. However, I guess I wasn't totally clear: my plan is to take the GRE-P in Nov 2008 but won't be applying until late 2009. (Yeah, I still got a while to go...). The idea is that I'll be able to focus on research and the tougher classes during my last year.

Hopefully that'll be enough time. :)

doom
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Re: Biophysics?

Postby doom » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:33 pm

Woah, yeah, you're ridiculously on the ball. Make sure you use your extra time to get some good research done, which I'm sure you'll do.

Good luck.

tnoviell
Posts: 235
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:31 am

Re: Biophysics?

Postby tnoviell » Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:28 pm

LB,

I went to an unknown school and worked in chemistry and physics labs. I had a good GPA, but people from my class had GPAs as low as around 3.5, I believe. Your Physics GRE score is irrelevant at Hopkins, pretty much. Hopkins is ranked high in biophysics for good reasons - it's a very good school. I can't speak for the process, but I would say the interview weekend is probably the most important at Hopkins. If you want to know anything else, send me a PM. I would suggest you look at schools based on the research performed.




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