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Research recommendation from which PI?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by zogoto, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. zogoto

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    I am in a somewhat joint lab that has two PIs. One PI (call him PI A) runs the day to day type things, and is present at the lab meetings, etc. The other PI (PI B) runs the biggest lab at my university (which is a top 10 research university), with over 100 people, and according to almost all of my current professors, will win a Nobel prize within the next 10 years.

    I work directly under a postdoc who will draft the main portion of the letter, since he knows me the best, and what I've done. Now, I can either have PI A or PI B be the signer of the letter. If PI B does it, there'll be a huge huge name signing the letter, which seems to be the obvious choice. Except that PI A will probably have more time to craft it well, and he is a very suave-type guy that will probably be able to "sell" me very well (he is known for these kind of things). Also, will med. schools see the letter signed by PI B and know that he was not really the main writer since he is so famous that there's no way he knew me well enough to write all that stuff?
     
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  3. apgar

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    I feel like since PI A knows you better, it would be a better LOR. Even if PI B has a big name, it won't help you as much if he does not have real things (not just statements without substance) to add to the letter.
     
  4. zogoto

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    Well he'll base it on my postdoc's letter, and I'm going to meet him for at least two 15-30 minute meetings before he writes it.
     
  5. BeardedRunner

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    Hey, so I was in a similar situation as you last winter when I was asking for LORs. I am now an MS 0 in the class of 2013.

    Last Summer, I had to decide between staying in a lab with a PI who was a former professor of mine, one whom I had worked one on one with or switch to a 20 person lab under a "big-wig" PI. The first PI was not very popular, while the other is a famous Cardiology researcher and established professor at my University's medical school. I spoke with the Vice Provost of the University before I made this decision. And he made it clear that the status of a PI carries more weight than anything else. So I went ahead and switched labs. I worked under a Ph.D. student who later helped the PI write my LOR. I had a 10 min talk with the baller PI about why I wanted to go into medicine and other thoughts like that before she wrote my letter.

    I think it helped, so I suggest choosing the nobel prize candidate.
     
    #4 BeardedRunner, Dec 9, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
  6. GoSpursGo

    GoSpursGo Allons-y!
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    While I think there is some merit in this advice, I would caution that this is purely anecdotal. Another purely anecdotal example would be where my roommate applied to Baylor (his top choice) two years ago with an LOR from the chief of surgery at Baylor even though he didn't really interact with the guy that much. He didn't wind up getting into Baylor. So ultimately, if you're holding 5 acceptances, I have a strong suspicion it has more to do with what else is in your application more than who signed your LOR; the impression that I've gotten is that strong LORs help, but they aren't given nearly as much weight as GPA/MCAT/research/clinical, or even PS.
     
  7. BeardedRunner

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    To clarify, I met with my PI approximately once every 3 weeks and she provided a great representation of my efforts in research with her LOR.

    And yes, GPA and MCAT are more important, but when it comes down to this specific question about LORs, I feel that adcoms go for the big names. One proof of this would be the candidates that I saw at all of my interviews from September - November. I would have to say that about 70% of them all came from popular name schools and ivys. (And I'm talking about interviews at state schools and some mid-range private schools).

    -Props on catching my original words. Plus go Spurs - I'm a fan.
     
  8. GoSpursGo

    GoSpursGo Allons-y!
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    Great, I'm glad that worked out since your PI knew you reasonably well; I'm just not sure the OP should go for the name on the letter if that person doesn't really know them, as it almost sounds like.

    That's what I'm talkin' bout! Always pleased to meet someone else who's seen the light :)
     
  9. AtheGre

    AtheGre YES
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    Have them both write you a LOR. Then, ask your advisor to pick the best one. Would you be able to do that ? Are you allowed to read your LORs or are you signing a waiver ?


    AtG
     

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