Dec 16, 2020
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I plan on reaching out to people for letter of recommendation letters starting from next week and wanted to get some advice!
I did research for about 1000hrs in a very small lab that consisted of just me (summer intern), my mentor (post-doc), and the PI (principal investigator - MD/PhD). I am close with my mentor and somehow close with my PI, but I do feel like my mentor (post-doc) will be able to write a stronger letter for me.

Should I ask LOR to my mentor and ask the PI to co-sign it? or should I just ask the PI for the LOR?

Not sure if this would make any difference but, my mentor is finishing his post-doc this summer and headed to Europe to open up (?) his own lab and the PI is retiring this summer as my mentor leaves.

Any advice would be appreciated!
 

Ultravox Vienna

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Should I ask LOR to my mentor and ask the PI to co-sign it?
Yes
should I just ask the PI for the LOR?
No
Not sure if this would make any difference but, my mentor is finishing his post-doc this summer and headed to Europe to open up (?) his own lab and the PI is retiring this summer as my mentor leaves.
Ask asap!!! Don't want to bother them whenever they are preparing for these major life events or have them brush it off!
 
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EdgeTrimmer

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I plan on reaching out to people for letter of recommendation letters starting from next week and wanted to get some advice!
I did research for about 1000hrs in a very small lab that consisted of just me (summer intern), my mentor (post-doc), and the PI (principal investigator - MD/PhD). I am close with my mentor and somehow close with my PI, but I do feel like my mentor (post-doc) will be able to write a stronger letter for me.

Should I ask LOR to my mentor and ask the PI to co-sign it? or should I just ask the PI for the LOR?

Not sure if this would make any difference but, my mentor is finishing his post-doc this summer and headed to Europe to open up (?) his own lab and the PI is retiring this summer as my mentor leaves.

Any advice would be appreciated!
Discuss with yout post-doc and then email PI and CC post-doc. If PI is not familiar with your work they will consult post-doc and come up with LOR. Yes, ask immediately and I believe you can have those saved in 3rd party site Interfolio (don't know the details).
 
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Feb 14, 2020
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I have a very similar question and feel like it would be a waste to post another thread: I am an MD/PhD applicant looking to apply this cycle, and I could ask the PI of a lab I work in for a LOR, get a letter from the grad student I work with and have it signed by the PI (Similar situation, I would see the PI once a month in the lab) or I could get a LOR from both the PI and the grad student . Definitely want one from my PI since she was also one of my science professors, but since the grad student is just a PhD candidate, would his LOR be kosher for an application? Given that he knows what it's like to work with me, I feel like he is better positioned to judge my potential as a (hopefully) future PI, so I would really like his letter if it would be valid.

On an unrelated note, I also have this dilemma of how to approach a science professor for a LOR. We don't know each other very well (Large classes, I didn't go to office hours like I should have) but we did coordinate a drive for a local soup kitchen in need of resources in the class. That, besides a few in class interactions, is the extent of our relationship. It's late in the game, and I need another science letter for my application and don't have better alternatives, have you guys found a good way to approach or somehow get to know professors who barely know you?
 
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EdgeTrimmer

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I have a very similar question and feel like it would be a waste to post another thread: I am an MD/PhD applicant looking to apply this cycle, and I could ask the PI of a lab I work in for a LOR, get a letter from the grad student I work with and have it signed by the PI (Similar situation, I would see the PI once a month in the lab) or I could get a LOR from both the PI and the grad student . Definitely want one from my PI since she was also one of my science professors, but since the grad student is just a PhD candidate, would his LOR be kosher for an application? Given that he knows what it's like to work with me, I feel like he is better positioned to judge my potential as a (hopefully) future PI, so I would really like his letter if it would be valid.

On an unrelated note, I also have this dilemma of how to approach a science professor for a LOR. We don't know each other very well (Large classes, I didn't go to office hours like I should have) but we did coordinate a drive for a local soup kitchen in need of resources in the class. That, besides a few in class interactions, is the extent of our relationship. It's late in the game, and I need another science letter for my application and don't have better alternatives, have you guys found a good way to approach or somehow get to know professors who barely know you?
You should get from PI only, again send an email to PI and CC grad student. You can ask grad student to give their input to PI.

I don't think most students have lot of interactions with professors. You can mention the activities you did and they probably look at your class performance and write the LOR.
 
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Talk it over with the mentor and supervisor. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if getting a letter written by someone else and signed by a higher person is common. I work as an MA and my supervisors are LVNs. Chances are, I'll likely ask one or some of the LVNs to write the letter and have an MD sign it. Lots of opportunities allow you to learn a lot but don't allow much interactions with the right person to ask a letter from.
 
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KnightDoc

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On an unrelated note, I also have this dilemma of how to approach a science professor for a LOR. We don't know each other very well (Large classes, I didn't go to office hours like I should have) but we did coordinate a drive for a local soup kitchen in need of resources in the class. That, besides a few in class interactions, is the extent of our relationship. It's late in the game, and I need another science letter for my application and don't have better alternatives, have you guys found a good way to approach or somehow get to know professors who barely know you?
Yeah -- the good way to approach and get to know professors (and, more importantly, get them to get to know you) is to be fully engaged in and out of classes you actually enjoy. That way, the relationship is organic and the letter can be outstanding. Difficult during COVID, difficult if you are not that into school or your science classes, or if all your professors suck.

Otherwise, there is no great way to approach. Writing LORs is part of their job, so, unless they are total dicks, you'll get letters just by asking. There is no magic. It might feel a little awkward, but just keep in mind you won't be the first student in this position. They probably won't be great letters, because it's late in the game and they barely know you, but, you already knew that, and it is what it is.
 
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@KnightDoc I appreciate the reply. I suppose the situation isn't quire as bad as I've descirbed, we did coordinate a drive for a local soup kitchen/transitional housing clinic and we spoke briefly about my interests and career path. However, I have heard that some schools might consider engineering (I'm a chemical engineering major) classes as 'science' enough for a LOR, and if that's the case, I have a much better relationship with a professor I did research with and also happened to be my materials science professor. If you were in the situation where you could have either 3-4 solid letters with a question mark on the two science professors requirement or those same letters with a mediocre letter from a professor I didn't know to make sure I fulfill that requirement, which would you choose?
 

KnightDoc

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@KnightDoc I appreciate the reply. I suppose the situation isn't quire as bad as I've descirbed, we did coordinate a drive for a local soup kitchen/transitional housing clinic and we spoke briefly about my interests and career path. However, I have heard that some schools might consider engineering (I'm a chemical engineering major) classes as 'science' enough for a LOR, and if that's the case, I have a much better relationship with a professor I did research with and also happened to be my materials science professor. If you were in the situation where you could have either 3-4 solid letters with a question mark on the two science professors requirement or those same letters with a mediocre letter from a professor I didn't know to make sure I fulfill that requirement, which would you choose?
Totally go with the stronger letters. Since when is engineering not science???
 

KnightDoc

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@KnightDoc I appreciate the reply. I suppose the situation isn't quire as bad as I've descirbed, we did coordinate a drive for a local soup kitchen/transitional housing clinic and we spoke briefly about my interests and career path. However, I have heard that some schools might consider engineering (I'm a chemical engineering major) classes as 'science' enough for a LOR, and if that's the case, I have a much better relationship with a professor I did research with and also happened to be my materials science professor. If you were in the situation where you could have either 3-4 solid letters with a question mark on the two science professors requirement or those same letters with a mediocre letter from a professor I didn't know to make sure I fulfill that requirement, which would you choose?
I know the following is old (from 2011), and it was specifically referring to what goes into the sGPA, but still!

I am BME and got most of my eng. classes counted for BCPM. Mine were:

Biomechanics (as physics)
Materials Science (as physics)
Physiology and Engineering (bio)
Biological Transport Phenomena (this was math or bio, I don't remember..)

The ones I did not classify as BCPM were Intro to Chem.Eng and BME Design

I'm taking most of my engineering classes senior year so I didn't have to classify those, but you can probably classify almost any engineering class as BCPM. I didn't have any issues with my classifications.
 
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