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102: HelloPhD Guide to Grad School Applications – Crafting the Perfect Personal Statement (R)

Please recount your life story, all of your future plans, and why this graduate program is uniquely suited to fulfill those dreams.  Limit your answer to 140 characters.

Okay, okay, the typical “Personal Statement” prompt on your grad school application is probably not that outrageous, but they CAN feel both cryptic and overwhelming.

Here’s a real prompt from a real grad school application at a major university:

In 1-2 pages, describe your career goals, research interests, past and present research experience, and why you’ve chosen the [Name Redacted] Program for your graduate studies.

This prompt can induce instant writer’s block in even the most prepared applicants.  So where do you begin?

This week on the show, we share tips for crafting the perfect personal statement that will highlight your grad-school-readiness and potential for greatness in a career beyond the degree.

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122: Tenure Tracker – The Life Non-Linear with Dr. Jimena Giudice

Dr. Jimena Giudice has all the traits of a promising new faculty member.

Through her training and early career, she has earned more than a dozen grants and awards. She’s co-authored two dozen papers. And she has trained students and postdocs, gaining a reputation as a highly effective mentor.

You’d expect that Dr. Giudice’s undeniable success was the natural result of an early immersion in science and a dogged adherence to the well-worn path through college, grad school, and postdoc.

But of course, you’d be wrong. Before discovering a love for scientific research, Dr. Giudice spent ten years answering a different calling.

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121: A Teenager Goes to Grad School feat. Julia Nepper, PhD

You’ve gotten this far, which means you have probably read the episode title by now. And that means you have questions. So… many… questions….

Let’s answer a few of them right up front.

First, if you want to enter graduate school at age seventeen, you should probably start college around age eleven. That’s what this week’s guest Dr. Julia Nepper did.

Second, you should know that even though Julia’s educational biography is unusual, the lessons she learned along the way will feel familiar to every graduate student.

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120: Advancing Open Science with Dr. Jon Tennant

As a researcher, you may brag about the open, collegial way that scientists share their findings in lab meetings, poster sessions, and journal articles.

But if you dig beneath the surface, you’ll find a darker tendency built into our habits and institutions that actually cover up a lot of what we learn.

For example, you might spend months testing the efficacy of a new cancer drug in vitro. But if that drug doesn’t have a significant impact on cancer growth, you’ll conclude your work is ‘not publishable,’ and the discovery will languish in your lab notebook.

Meanwhile, in some other lab, at some other University, another scientist might get the same idea you had, and spend their own weeks or months doing the same tests, only to learn the same result.

And so, year after year, the research community wastes immeasurable time re-learning the same lessons. And because of that, the march toward real insights and real cures slows to a crawl.

This week on the show, we talk with Jon Tennant, PhD, who wants to re-open the channels of scientific communication and transform the way we build on what others have learned.

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119: Ten Tips to Crush Your First Semester

It’s that time of year again – summer days are growing shorter, your friends are trying to fit in one last trip to the beach, and the backpack aisle at Target is about to be cleared out to make way for the Halloween costumes.

Yes, it’s back-to-school time. From toddlers to teenagers, this time of year instills foreboding about the school-year ahead. But as a first-year graduate student, you may have other feelings.

For most, it’s the start of a new adventure. For the first time, you’re pursuing the one subject in the world you love best, surrounded by other equally brilliant and passionate people.

It’s the end of being told what to learn and how to study, and the beginning of blazing your own academic trail.

It IS a new experience – different from your matriculation in high school or college – and it may be difficult to know what to expect.

This week, we lay out a ten-ish step plan for putting your best-foot-forward in that first semester of your graduate journey.

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