Physics Graduate school with 4 years research in stem cells?

erikalikesgausslaw90
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 6:45 pm

Physics Graduate school with 4 years research in stem cells?

Postby erikalikesgausslaw90 » Tue May 24, 2011 1:10 pm

hello!

so my case is kind funny. I started out as a physiological science major, which I followed for the first two years of college. My second year I joined a human embryonic stem cells lab in the Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics Department. I have one publication there already. However, my second year I fell in love with physics while taking my required physics courses for phy. sci. and I just LOVED it! I decided to switch majors after attending research talks and realizing that I HAD to take more physics classes. My goal right now is to follow graduate school, most likely in physics. Perhaps biophysics,but I'm still looking at the other fields. I ahve a question though... I don't know if I can apply if I my research is in a biology field... I don't want to leave my lab because it took me a year to get used to it and I already feel solid here, and I might get my own project if I stay. I WILL do biophysics research during the summer at a summer program.. but is this enough to apply to a physics graduate school? Should I switch into a physics lab since I will stay 2 more years here? Or should I stay and get a better letter of rec after staying 4 years in the same lab? I would really appreciate your input! Thanks!! :)

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grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Physics Graduate school with 4 years research in stem cells?

Postby grae313 » Wed May 25, 2011 9:51 am

erikalikesgausslaw90 wrote:hello!

so my case is kind funny. I started out as a physiological science major, which I followed for the first two years of college. My second year I joined a human embryonic stem cells lab in the Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics Department. I have one publication there already. However, my second year I fell in love with physics while taking my required physics courses for phy. sci. and I just LOVED it! I decided to switch majors after attending research talks and realizing that I HAD to take more physics classes. My goal right now is to follow graduate school, most likely in physics. Perhaps biophysics,but I'm still looking at the other fields. I ahve a question though... I don't know if I can apply if I my research is in a biology field... I don't want to leave my lab because it took me a year to get used to it and I already feel solid here, and I might get my own project if I stay. I WILL do biophysics research during the summer at a summer program.. but is this enough to apply to a physics graduate school? Should I switch into a physics lab since I will stay 2 more years here? Or should I stay and get a better letter of rec after staying 4 years in the same lab? I would really appreciate your input! Thanks!! :)


I think if you apply to physics with a strongly stated interest in biophysics or if you apply directly to biophysics programs, then staying in your current research group would be fine. However, if you think you might be interested in other fields of physics or if you're very curious to find out, I would recommend you join a physics research group. You have one paper already and it's still very early in your undergraduate career. That takes the pressure to produce results off of you, and now I think you have the luxury to do some exploring. On the pros side, you'll get another research-related letter of recommendation and you'll be able to (hopefully) firmly say to the admissions committee that you did physics research, enjoyed it, and did well in it. What better way is there of convincing an admissions committee that you will be good at physics research and that you are committed to physics? You also have enough time to try out a couple different physics groups which will really help you get a head start in graduate school; you'll have a better and well-educated idea of what type of research you want to pursue, you'll have diverse experiences doing research, and you'll probably have a good idea of what kind of group and adviser dynamic suits you best.

I think that if you are not firmly set on biophysics then at least you should join one physics group, even if only in your last year.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Physics Graduate school with 4 years research in stem cells?

Postby bfollinprm » Wed May 25, 2011 12:56 pm

grae313 wrote:
erikalikesgausslaw90 wrote:hello!

so my case is kind funny. I started out as a physiological science major, which I followed for the first two years of college. My second year I joined a human embryonic stem cells lab in the Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics Department. I have one publication there already. However, my second year I fell in love with physics while taking my required physics courses for phy. sci. and I just LOVED it! I decided to switch majors after attending research talks and realizing that I HAD to take more physics classes. My goal right now is to follow graduate school, most likely in physics. Perhaps biophysics,but I'm still looking at the other fields. I ahve a question though... I don't know if I can apply if I my research is in a biology field... I don't want to leave my lab because it took me a year to get used to it and I already feel solid here, and I might get my own project if I stay. I WILL do biophysics research during the summer at a summer program.. but is this enough to apply to a physics graduate school? Should I switch into a physics lab since I will stay 2 more years here? Or should I stay and get a better letter of rec after staying 4 years in the same lab? I would really appreciate your input! Thanks!! :)


I think if you apply to physics with a strongly stated interest in biophysics or if you apply directly to biophysics programs, then staying in your current research group would be fine. However, if you think you might be interested in other fields of physics or if you're very curious to find out, I would recommend you join a physics research group. You have one paper already and it's still very early in your undergraduate career. That takes the pressure to produce results off of you, and now I think you have the luxury to do some exploring. On the pros side, you'll get another research-related letter of recommendation and you'll be able to (hopefully) firmly say to the admissions committee that you did physics research, enjoyed it, and did well in it. What better way is there of convincing an admissions committee that you will be good at physics research and that you are committed to physics? You also have enough time to try out a couple different physics groups which will really help you get a head start in graduate school; you'll have a better and well-educated idea of what type of research you want to pursue, you'll have diverse experiences doing research, and you'll probably have a good idea of what kind of group and adviser dynamic suits you best.

I think that if you are not firmly set on biophysics then at least you should join one physics group, even if only in your last year.


It's never in your best interest to only work with one advisor as an undergrad. You want at least 2 good recs from different research advisors, and 2 groups is a good way to get that.

vesperlynd
Posts: 194
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:28 am

Re: Physics Graduate school with 4 years research in stem cells?

Postby vesperlynd » Wed May 25, 2011 4:46 pm

bfollinprm wrote:It's never in your best interest to only work with one advisor as an undergrad. You want at least 2 good recs from different research advisors, and 2 groups is a good way to get that.
I had only one research advisor write me a rec. The other two came from my academic advisor and someone I took a class with.

@erik: If you work for the same person for four years, like I did, that won't be an issue. However, if you are thinking of something other than biophysics, if I were you, I would try to get into another group like grae said, only because you'd be exposed to other research areas. I wish I'd done that as an undergrad.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Physics Graduate school with 4 years research in stem cells?

Postby bfollinprm » Wed May 25, 2011 8:18 pm

vesperlynd wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:It's never in your best interest to only work with one advisor as an undergrad. You want at least 2 good recs from different research advisors, and 2 groups is a good way to get that.
I had only one research advisor write me a rec. The other two came from my academic advisor and someone I took a class with.

@erik: If you work for the same person for four years, like I did, that won't be an issue. However, if you are thinking of something other than biophysics, if I were you, I would try to get into another group like grae said, only because you'd be exposed to other research areas. I wish I'd done that as an undergrad.


yeah, not saying it isn't possible to do extraordinary with just one undergrad professor, just it's sometimes dangerous to rely on 1 person's opinion to carry you forward. Personal opinion, though, I guess, since I don't have data to support it, just anecdotes.




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