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Knowledge of Research

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by jankanator, Jul 14, 2002.

  1. jankanator

    jankanator 7+ Year Member

    Jul 24, 2001
    Palo Alto, CA
    I know we are supposed to have a good knowledge of our research experiences, but I am worried because my research experiences so far have occured over the summer and were too short for me to get a really broad understanding. I am planning on doing more research in the spring and on through senior year in the form of classes so I will have a more extensive research experience to talk about. I am confident that I will be able to really hash it out on that research, but how much am I expected to know about my summer research experience that I did after my junior year in high school? So I guess I want to know if I will be "allowed" to focus on the research I will do for an extended period of time and just touch on the smaller research experiences when it comes to application essays and interviews. Thanks for the help!
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  3. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jun 4, 2001
    During the application process and interviews, you can focus on your main research project, but anything you have done that you put on the application is fair game for questions during interviews. For example, I had one in which the faculty member spent the whole time grilling me on a minor project I had worked on in the lab. It was very frustrating because I felt as though I didn't have the chance to convey the bulk of my work. What she was really trying to see, however, was how I could think and reason under pressure and how open my mind was to alternative possibilities.

    As a general rule, if your interviewer works on a particular area of research that overlaps yours, it will likely come up during interviews. So I would advise that you know all of your research well, even the small projects, because they ARE fair game. However, the money will be on your main projects, so at all costs know that stuff well.

    Hope this helps. :D
  4. Gradient Echo

    Gradient Echo Banned Banned

    Jul 12, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    yeah i agree mostly with vader.

    i also had an interviewer at a nameless school who really scrutinized one particular equation in one of my projects. we spent the whole time talking about some obscure formula and why or why not it was valid under the experimental conditions I set up.

    anything you put on your app is something you really need to know well.
  5. exigente chica

    exigente chica 7+ Year Member

    May 28, 2002
    I personally believe that anything you put on your application, you should know in and out. Mayn people are asked simple things directly from there app, and when they fumble for answers, it makes you look bad.
    I also have two summers of research. I learned more in the summer than I did during one school year fo research! I never start my experiments until I know the project in and out and have read alot of papers on the topic. I also sit down with the PI and have him explain what I'm doing, then a few days later, I go back and explain what I'm doing and draw out all the pathways..just so I know that I understand. You don't have to do this, I'm just anal like that. I personally just don't want to be doing tecniques and not understanding why I did a PCR or Southern? You know!
    If you did it a long time ago, go to search engines like pub med and look up your topic, and read read and read more. If you have questions ask someone from your school or e mail someone working on that project!
  6. brandonite

    brandonite Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Oct 19, 2001
    Manitoba, Canada
    The joys of being a former astronomer - nobody knows enough about your projects to ask questions you can't handle. ;)

    I did all of my research as an undergrad in one lab - it meant that I got to know all of the people really well, I had a great grasp of the project, and I got to do independent work. The downside, of course, is that when I am staring at WashU's secondary, like I am right now, I only have one real person who can write me a research letter of recomendation. And he's an astronomer.

    So, there is a definite upside to having a broad research background as an undergrad. :) Just try and know your projects as best you can...
  7. Gradient Echo

    Gradient Echo Banned Banned

    Jul 12, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Yeah I remember WashU's forms... they really sucked because then I had to pester my recommenders not only to write a letter but ALSO fill out the form.

    I think most other schools are not as strict about that kinda stuff though.
  8. shamus1

    shamus1 Member 7+ Year Member

    Feb 18, 2002
    Hey Baylor,

    My experience with WashU is the opposite. They told us that use of the forms was encouraged but not mandatory. I think that the purpose behind the form is to get the recommender to focus on things that are important, like creativity, intellectual rigor, initiative, ability to get along with others, etc. In addition, it assures the recommender that the letters will be kept confidential and will be destroyed upon enrollment to address any Buckley Amendment concerns. But if a recommender does not use the form, it is no big concern.

    One other thing good about WashU, unlike most other MSTPs, is that they help you to get the letters from your recommenders. Not only do they let you know that a recommender has not sent in a letter, they will also contact the recommender directly and let him/her know that their inattention may jeopardize your shot at an interview with the program. This is pretty cool and helps to remove the anxiety of the applicant having to pester a recommender. The staff there has a good attitude toward applicants and has the resources to back up that attitude with action. The only complaint is that applicants have to send two sets of letters to WashU: one to the MD admissions and one to the MSTP. This can be a hassle if you do not have a preprofessional office to send out the letters.
  9. Gradient Echo

    Gradient Echo Banned Banned

    Jul 12, 2002
    Baltimore, MD

    yeah you're right. i just didnt bother to find out how necessary they were. they were included with the packet they sent me and I didnt remember anything on them stating they were optional, so i just thought it was either preferred or mandatory. but later on somebody told me you didnt have to use them.

    i definitely agree with you about the staff though. Brian and Andrew are very dedicated to working with applicants and the med school throws a lot of resources their way to recruit MD/PhDs, WashU was definitely the best interview experience I had.

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