Category Archives: Graduate school

Grant review: best proposal or most needy scientist?

In a few short hours I read nine proposals from graduate students interested in funding for their research. Because this was a focused call, they were largely similar. They all involved field work, natural history, and queries into the relationship … Continue reading

Posted in Awards and prizes, Graduate school, Grant proposals, Grants, NSF | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Interviewing students the Oxford way

You made it! You have an interview at the top university in the world! You will meet in person with several professors or other academic staff from two or three of the colleges. One of them might be the cloistered … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Interviewing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Are rotations really worth it?

I think a rotation is kind of like a trial marriage, without the most fun bits. Or maybe because of that, and the power relationships, a trial adoption is more like it. Some students start graduate school really certain of … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Your lab group | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why those recommendation form checkboxes are meaningless

Choosing the next graduate class is one of the most important things we do besides choosing new faculty. We have a fairly typical application form with two essays by the student, three recommendations by faculty that know them, standardized test … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Recommendations | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Here’s why you should waive access to your letters of recommendation

Applying to graduate school or medical school is a complicated business. One important part of it is getting great letters of recommendation. It is too late this year to establish the relationships that form the basis of solid letters based … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Undergraduates | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Remember the theory of mind when communicating officially with graduate students

Yesterday I got the following letter from the associate dean of our graduate program, here copied in its entirety: According to our records, Sewall Wright (or someone else) will begin his 7th year of graduate studies on July 1. Length … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Managing an academic career | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Exactly how independent should your research be?

The significance of a Ph.D. degree is that you can do much more than excellent research. You can also think of what questions to ask. You know how to push at the most important unknowns. You can read the literature … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, New ideas, Postdocs, Undergraduates | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment