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Advice for PhD seeking

I am currently a junior undergraduate student at the University of Washington and plan to pursue a PhD in the genomic sciences. I have experience in research, with over a year in three different labs. However, I am worried that my major makes me a less competitive applicant to programs such as Genomic Sciences. I am majoring in Public Health with minors in Bioethics and Anthropology. I was wondering what do you suggest to make myself a more competitive applicant? Are there any projects I should take on to demonstrate my skills? #graduateschool #bioinformatics #research

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Yuezhe (Rachel)’s Answer

Hi Mary,

It seems that you are facing a dilemma.

However, before I go further, I want to reassure you that getting into a PhD program is not an unreachable goal. Your background may not be a drag either. I can see that with your major in public health, you probably have a very good understanding of statistics. This is a huge advantage. Many PhDs, even some professors, don't have a good understanding of statistics. If you also have research experience and a good GPA, that's sufficient to get into a decent graduate program.

If you want to go to Ivy League schools, here are a couple of things you can do.
1. find a technician job in a lab in the school you are interested in and work there for some time before you apply. People tend to recruit people they know.
2. do summer research at schools you are interested in.
3. work as a research assistant in a genomics lab. Your recommendation letter from your employee will confirm your skills. I know JAX laboratory hires undergraduate interns. Have you checked here?

Let me know if you have any further questions.

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Gustavo’s Answer

Hello! First, in my opinion, you should be an assistant in a genomics lab. It is an excellent beginning for you to pursue your Ph.D. program. You will achieve experience in the field that you want to research and principally knows if is this line of research that you want to pursue. Principally you will have a good letter of recommendation; it will be essential for your Ph.D. program. If you want to be a strong candidate, you must be involved in the genomic area, projects, lab assistant, congress in the field, all you can perform in the genomics area make your reumé strong. It is my point, and I hope helped you, my best regards

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Rodolfo’s Answer

Actually the next question should be what Master’s program you should pursue to be more competitive for your desired PhD field. Why not take the MD route then specialize in immunology and infectious diseases with subspecialty in genomics? Don’t forget to thank me when you become a Nobel prize laureate.

It's not very common these days to get a Master's degree before entering a PhD program in the biological sciences. That's certainly an option, but it would not be the most efficient route to a PhD program, nor would it be necessary. The better bet would be to get hands-on job experience in a genomics lab - either as a summer internship or full time for a year or more after undergrad. Stacey Taylor

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Deepak’s Answer

Agree with the answers above.

Your undergrad major may not be genomics, but its still very relevant. if clinical genomics/genetics interests you, that will be a really nice combination.

Intern/co-op/temp jobs at academic labs doing genomics is a great way to develop contacts and get exposure. I would add, look into pharmaceutical industries as well, they have tons of temp jobs, could be nice to get applied experience as well.

PhD genomics should not be hard for you to find, will say wait for the right one to come along, rather than jump on to first opportunity you see.