BSTP Student Advice

Researching graduate biomedical programs and applying can be challenging. Here are some tips and advice from our current PhD students aimed to help provide guidance along your academic journey.

Broaden Your Horizons

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Broaden your mind -- look beyond what you're immediately interested in, and research the people you're interested in.

- Avinaash Kaur

  • I would advise future biomedical PhD students to really think about the type of mentors they'll be exposed to as they search for programs. While the research you will perform is important, it's also important that you'll be able to work with someone who can help you grow and become not only a great scientist in the lab, but will also give you the tools needed to succeed in many facets of life. (Sierra Cotton)
  • In my experiences, find a well balanced community in which one is going to be able to grow professionally. Also, find a place where you love the science that it is done in multiple labs within the institution. (Raquel Lopez de Boer)
  • Investigate and identify potential faculty that you would like to work with. You may not end up rotating or working for them, but it is important to identify that there is research that you are interested in is taking place at the university. (Sarah McNeer)
  • I would suggest to apply to a range of universities. Also interviews are not only helpful to the university’s staff but can also help you determine more about the school’s environment and whether you will thrive there. (Meaghan Parks)

Do Your Research

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I would tell future prospective students to research any questions that come to mind while deciding on a program. Particularly at Case Western Reserve, admissions personnel and students are extremely helpful and thorough in answering questions, and this allows prospective students to make the best decision for them.

- Emily Kukan

  • Identify potential research areas that you would want to pursue and find institutions that have multiple faculty members working on those subjects. (Jordan Cress)
  • It is better to look for a program that is particularly matched to your graduate goal and career development. (Peinan Hu)
  • Look at the institution’s aggregate research effort, its entities (cancer center, offices, etc), and the faculty. (Joseph Kass)
  • Find a program, a university, and a PI that are right for you. These decisions cannot be made off the cuff. You truly need to sit down and reflect on where you want to go and who is best positioned to take you on your path. (Jordan Griffith)
  • Knowing in advance what kinds of projects you may want to contribute to will be key in shaping not just your background research but also in guiding you towards what kind of doctoral program you think will make you most capable in studying within a given field. (Yaw Asante)

Staying Organized

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Make a spreadsheet of all the schools that you are considering with the documents required; as well as, the costs to apply and when everything is due.

- Daniel Kingsley

  • Stay organized! There are many programs out there and all of them will look extremely interesting. By keeping a spreadsheet or document highlighting the qualities of each will keep everything in one spot for you as you search. You will be able to add researchers of interest to your document with all of their information. (Tristan Carmeci)
  • Think about where you want to be in five years and take steps toward that goal. Compile your CV, get extra lab experience, and most importantly, when given the opportunities, talk to people in a PhD program to get a sense of what daily life is like. (Rachael Gowen)

Believe in Yourself

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I would advise future biomedical PhD students to not sell themselves short — be confident in yourselves and your abilities, and enjoy the process. Stay open-minded throughout the search process and follow your heart and gut when selecting your institution.

- Jerrik Rydbom

  • Do as much research as possible before applying. Your experience is the most valuable aspect of your resume, and having a taste for what you're getting into is very beneficial when identifying interests. (Danielle Browne)
  • Never tell yourself you "aren't good enough" for a program and always apply to your dream schools! I never thought I would get into CWRU and here I am today! (Kaitlyn Daff)