I'm looking for biophysics schools/labs with, if possible, realistic assessments of how likely it is I'll get in. Also looking for forums to post to besides this one
Senior undergraduate at UIUC, dual degree in Physics, CS + Math. 3.7 GPA, physics grades are a smattering of A's and B's. So-so research experience. Looking for spots that have a good mix of experiment and theory! Happy to apply to masters and take 'unorthodox' paths (masters in data science or similar) if that's what it takes. Willing to apply out of country.
What I'm looking for:
I guess my 'ideal' would be some mix of experiment/theory, as I've come to realize experiments are way cooler than I gave them credit for early on as an undergrad, and I think they're just so important for grounding my physics. Math-wise, in particular I like dynamical systems, and am looking to learn stochastic processes (I kept trying to take a course on it and the university kept making it difficult, so maybe I'll take one while working or something. Don't really know what to do about this). I know a bit of discrete diff geo as well, and am pretty good at numerics-style linear. Generally I've enjoyed some of the population dynamics kinda stuff I've seen, but I'm aware of my lack of experience and willing to try new things if there's a reasonable way to try them.
Most of my problem is my best contact point in biophysics I met this semester, and will not have 'easy' access to due to covid. He's sent me a few papers and stuff and we've talked, but we haven't started skype calls yet or anything. Maybe soon, though. So I'm sort of going in blind.
Grades (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign):
- Physics grades are about half A's, half B's. Graduate stat mech with a B (I know I ****ed up, loved the class to bits and this is my biggest regret of uni). An experimental biophysics class with an A, maybe a rec letter from the prof.
- Math grades are almost all A's, Graduate dynamical systems with an A-.
- CS grades are almost all A's, a couple A-/B+.
- GRE subject physics: Didn't register for April because of Covid 19 (currently stuck in CA). Anticipating about top 20%, can definitely do better with practice if it's important; I don't really know.
- Internship at Google, job that I will hopefully not be laid off from lined up for this year. I intend to be applying to graduate schools while working.
- Internship at Sandia National Labs doing raytracing sorta stuff, they really liked me there and definitely would be happy to vouch for my comptence.
- Year of research doing molecular dynamics type stuff. Generally came to be sort of suspicious of molecular dynamics, but they liked me there. I sped up their (computationally intensive) program by 30% and made a poster, but unfortunately it required further work to actually get a paper and at that point I'd realized it wasn't for me. Also would appreciate suggestions for how to phrase this sort of thing in a less shitty way btw. I guess I know about symplectic integrators now, though! Pretty good rec letter.
- Year of research figuring out discrete exterior calculus and reimplementing results from an old paper. My method is maybe useful and generalizes, so I will be talking to the professor to see if maybe I can do a masters under him and get something published. Hopefully corona doesn't make this harder than it has to be.
- Was going to ask my experimental biophys class prof for a rec letter but class is now cancelled. I was really hoping to get to know him better but idk how to go about this at this point.