Including work-related non-science research in application


Full Member
2+ Year Member
Dec 28, 2016
North Carolina
  1. Medical Student (Accepted)
    I am completing the two additional MD-PhD essays for my AMCAS application this week (My advisor and I have gone back and forth on the possibilities of me applying MD-PhD right now, but I will complete the essays and we can discuss it case by case next week). I am in the middle of what has to be the nth edit of all of my essays and work experience descriptions and I am considering the content carefully. I do not have the "typical" science research background that most applicants have. I am not a strong applicant in that regard.

    I was a structural engineering major and wrote an undergraduate thesis, which included an in-depth structural analysis with extensive calculations (55 pages of calculations and analysis) as well as a thoughtful analysis of cultural influence on structural design and construction. I came up with the topic, was the sole writer, and did extensive research (not in the lab), which including traveling to Italy and conducting an interview in limited Italian. It is not necessarily hypothesis-based research, but I have a fairly good handle on how to include it in my essay. Let me know if you think it may be pointless to discuss. I did receive an award based on the research and was nominated to the Sigma Xi Society (stupidly forgetting to turn the paperwork in).

    I also began research this past August in an organic chemistry lab on campus where I worked extensively with another graduate student on some interesting synthesis projects that have biomedical implications. Our research was more typical of bench research with a hypothesis, etc. I was not as much of the sole researcher as I had been with my thesis, but I imagine that is the case with much undergraduate and graduate research. I feel like I have a fairly good handle on how to include this in my application, but any recommendations from others who have worked in a synthesis lab and written about their experiences is always appreciated.

    My issue is the 14 years in between. I picked up as many research based projects as possible during my time as an engineer, but that research was strictly engineering research - computer modelling of water management systems and environmental impacts. The reports I wrote were provided to municipalities and not published in research journals. I would like to include one particular project I managed, which lasted 8 months, but I'm unsure about how to approach it and whether it is worthwhile to include. I was the project manager and sole researcher on the project, but I am not sure whether schools will care. I have heard some positive feedback from schools that are interested in engineering, but less than stellar feedback from those that consider it relatively pointless. Any recommendations? I will be writing a first draft of the details this afternoon, and I can always remove it or modify it throughout this week. It is not indicative of the type of research i wish to be doing, but is indicative of the research experience that I have.

    I will have a very interesting scientific research project this year, but that is something I will only be able to discuss in interviews as it will not begin until a month after I submit my application.
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