advice for grad school preparation

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advice for grad school preparation

Post by anonymous188 » Fri Nov 10, 2006 4:09 am

I'm looking for some information for applying for grad school. I'm really interested in nanotechnology, and would like to apply for the University of Washington. The way the programs works is the applicant applies for a grad school, and then chooses to also complete the optional PhD program. First of all, if I apply for the biophysics grad department, which factors carry more weight? Would I need a strong physics, strong bio/chem, research? Also, if I apply for the physics program, how competitives is it to get into U of Washington? To give you some stats, my overall GPA is only ~3.4 (damn that history class!). I'm double majoring in math and physics, with my math GPA at only 3.6ish, and my physics at 3.8ish. Does the admissions department care much about your overall GPA, or are they mostly concerned with the specific science GPA? Lastly, what should I do at present (I'm a Junior) to improve my chances?

Sorry for all the questios. Any help would be much appreciated!



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Post by Bufalay » Fri Nov 10, 2006 8:40 am

Hi anonymous188,

I am a first year graduate student in physics right now. My main interest is also nanotechnology. University of Washington was one of the schools that I was accepted to so hopefully I can give you some sort of feeling for what it takes.

I considered applying to both physics and biophysics programs at UW and ultimately decided on physics. As it turns out i think that given my background this was a smart choice. It seems like the biophysics department really wants you to have a strong background in biology and chemistry, which I did not.

Because I had stated that I was interested in nanotechnology in my application, I was offered a fellowship to do research the summer before enrolling. They said that I could use it to do research with a group within the center for nanotechnology (not sure exactly what it was called). My point here is that, although I was in the physics department, I could have joined a group in the biophysics department, so it seems like getting accepted to the university really gives you a lot of options.

As far as the exact requirements for acceptance, I don't know, but i can tell you more about me. I attended arizona state university, had a 4.0 GPA overall as a physics major, GRE: 710Q 520V 750Physics. I think these low scores really hurt my chances at some of the higher ranked schools, but others did not seem to care too much.

I think the main thing that helped me was that I had decided I wanted to do nanotechnology early on and focused my efforts toward that. I did research in 3 different groups that could be loosely categorized as nanotechnology, and got good letters out of this.

Hopefully I have given you enough information. Also I hope that I did not give too much. I remember when I was in your situation that I had a hard time finding good info on these types of things, and people typically answered vaguely possibly with the hopes of sounding modest...this frustrated me.


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Post by anonymous188 » Fri Nov 10, 2006 4:14 pm

Thanks for that useful information. If you don't mind me asking, what kind of research did you do? Were all three papers specifically in physics? Also, were they all through your university, or did you get an outside grant? I'd like to do some research, but I don't know how exactly I would approach a professor about this or what outside sources are available. Thanks again.

-Alex W.

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Post by invidia » Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:41 am

Just show the schools you have an apitude for research. It doesn't necessary have to be in the field you want to go into. Just e-mail or talk to like every professor in the faculty if they have any undergrad reseach positions available. Don't be afraid of them.

Also, try to apply for a summer Research Experience for Undergrads at You do research with a professor at a different or same school during the summer.

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Post by Bufalay » Sat Nov 11, 2006 4:15 pm

The research that I did was at my school. The summer after my sophomore year I did an REU at my school, and didn't accomplish any significant results, but learned a lot about what doing research actually was. I did a short internship for the last month of that summer in a different lab...again just good experience. I basically just did MATlab programming in both of these labs.

My junior and senior years I worked in the same lab. It was with a physics/chemistry professor and the work was in molecular electronics. I wrote a thesis on my work and there was a paper published. One big decision I made that I think benefitted me was to stay and do work in this same lab for the summer after my junior year. I could have applied for an REU and done something new, but instead I decided to stay in this lab and continue to work on the same project. By doing this I was able to get some good results in a long term project.

The professor that I worked for taught one of my sophomore physics classes. I decided that I wanted to work for him so I walked into his office one day, and asked him if he had any openings for undergrads in his lab. I also told him that I was ok not getting paid. If you are able to work for free I think it greatly improves your chances of getting into the type of work that you really want.

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Post by schmit.paul » Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:02 pm

Dude, that's gotta be you Kayvon. I'll provide a little insight from my own experiences, because both Bufalay and myself worked for the same professor. He also taught a class I took sophomore year (a circuit design and analysis class), and I had approached him asking what books I should read to learn more about the subject. The professor wound up saying "don't read books, you should come and work in my lab," and after working out some details I wound up with a paid undergraduate research position in his lab. The key is, as invidia put it, don't be afraid of your professors. When I started the physics curriculum I had heard from people about the wonders of "networking" and getting to know your professors, and it didn't soak in right away. However, I've now made an effort to make sure every one of my professors knows me by more than just my first name and the course I'm taking. Email has proved to be a great tool in initiating a conversation with a professor, particularly if you've never had a class with the prof before. Be as enthusiastic and motivated as you can while trying to make the best academic impression you can (and don't write a novel, because EVERY prof is too busy to read a long email), and stress that you're really interested in helping out. Bufalay is right, you can't go wrong by offering to volunteer...if anything you'll be less of a burden to the prof and he/she will love you that much more for your free labor. Once you open the line of communication with your email, most prof's will then have you come in and talk to them to get a feel for your skill set and interests (which you should be honored about and thankful for...keep in mind these guys barely have time to read your emails, much less sit and talk with you for a half hour). I wound up using the same method to get other research position offers in some particle physics groups at my school, but I wound up staying with the same prof at the biophysics lab for the whole of my undergrad (i'm a graduating senior this year). Hope this helps.

btw kayvon, how's cornell? you still staying with nano?

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Nanotechnology investment and manufacturing - jobs and acads

Post by shivgan3 » Wed Aug 15, 2007 2:23 pm

We need investments from private industry for any technology to be a success and nanotechnology is a very important technology and we need to make investments easier and transparent so that nanotech can hit the market very soon, as we know we have not found an alternative to lithography where self assembly is the our only way of fabrication so we need to find some economical and market friendly way for fabrication in nanotechnology.
therefore nanotech can hit the market and there can be many jobs opening in nanotech in future.
thanking you

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