NIH IRTA Hopeful

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The Cinnabon

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2+ Year Member
Jul 12, 2019
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My dilemma that I face is that it seems that I have the chance to graduate early ( I am currently a sophomore) this is mainly to relieve the burden on my family that is college costs since they've been insistent they bare the costs. Since I desire to make my families lives much easier I may in fact graduate early, my issue with that is the loss of research time I will have should I graduate early. I plan on taking 2 gap years ideally at the NIH in the IRTA program mainly because I just like research and would love for that to be my job during gap years. My question goes to those that have done the program or have insight in said program in securing a lab position that I haven't been able to find a solid answer to on any pre-existing forms ( I'm probably dumb and didn't look hard enough).

1. The general consensus is that the best way to get in is to email any PI you're remotely interested in, is this still true?

2. Prior research experience, how can one leverage this to the best of their ability, specifically if you research in a non-wet lab environment? (In my case I do public health research, but would have zero issues doing wet lab research)

3. How much do Grades matter?

Now onto my profile personally:
As far as how my personal "academic/research" app is projected to look come app cycle:

From an average not seen as prestigious or offensive state-school.

High 3.9X cGPA currently (I don't anticipate this moving all that much over one year provided I continue with good study habits)
4.0 sGPA (this is probably going to go down to 3.9 whatever but who really cares)

Given that I would apply early and begin emailing early in the semester these would be the initial stats they would see.

I have one presentation at a mental health board for a health department.
I will be writing a publication with my PI over this summer (obviously no idea if it'll go through but it's still a learning experience)
Currently making a poster that I hope to present at a regional public health conference (if not that at the undergrad symposium at my school, which yes I know doesn't say a lot for clout)
Should I be able to present the poster above then another would be made after the completion of the above poster

I have no clue how many hours i'll technically be at, safe to say in the hundreds maybe more but I really haven't been keeping track. I started Sophomore year, that's about the extent of my number tracking. With one PI though the entire time I will add.

These are the things set in stone currently, I'll be working on another project with my PI through out the 2020-2021 school year and who knows what that will yield.
I may also join a wet lab on my off hours to get some basic lab skills down too but I highly doubt my skills just doing a few hours will expand more beyond just being familiar with the wet lab environment, or at the very least ideally not a bumbling idiot.