Ekpa’palek + IGBM ofrece 3 becas para curso en Biología Molecular

Del 15 al 21 de Julio el Instituto de Genética Barbara Mcclintock estará dictando el curso virtual: Análisis de SNPs usando PCR en tiempo real y High Resolution Melting
y, a través de Ekpa’palek, estamos ofreciendo tres becas a estudiantes y profesores universitarios en Latinoamérica.

A continuación algunos detalles:

  • Fechas: 15 – 21 Julio 2019
  • Modalidad: virtual, se adapta al horario del alumno/a.
  • Ventajas del aula virtual: Se pueden descargar las diapositivas, libros y material adicional, puedes ver los videos de las clases en cualquier horario y las veces que se desee durante las fechas que el curso se dicta. Además cuentan con un foro de consulta con la ponente, donde se puede escribir, mandar audios y videos de tus dudas.
  • Certificado a nombre del IGBM por 8 horas, previa aprobación de un examen básico de 10 preguntas, el cual NO tiene tiempo límite pero se debe dar hasta el último día de clases.

Programa:

  • Tipos de PCR para enriquecimiento de mutantes: Cold- PCR (fundamentos y utilidad.
  • PCR en tiempo real: Fundamentos y Diseño de primers en PCR en tiempo real, Tipos de sondas, Cuantificación relativa y absoluta (cuando usar cada una y por qué), PCR en tiempo real cualitativa y cuantitativa (análisis de la expresión génica), Aplicaciones en el ámbito de la salud especialmente en cáncer.
  • Low Resolution Melting o curva de melting, Cuando usar y por qué usar LRM, Interpretación (ejercicios), SNPs, mutaciones y otros conceptos necesarios.ejemplos en la investigación (aplicaciones)
  • High Resolution Melting (HRM): Fundamentos, Optimización del ensayo de HRM, Diseño de primers para HRM y su diferencia con el diseño de primers para qPCR *Manejo de software Primer, Sondas usadas exitosamente en HRM, HRM sensible a metilación (epigenética).
  • Aplicaciones en el diagnóstico molecular y otros temas en salud.
  • Aplicaciones de MS-HRM (epigenética)
  • Análisis de cada una de las curvas HRM (amplification plot, Raw Data Melt Curve, Normalization Data, Difference Graph)
  • Interpretación avanzada de las curvas HRM (ejercicios)

¿Qué hacer para ganar la beca?

  1. Escribir en un párrafo los motivos y razones por las cuáles deberíamos darles la beca.
  2. Incluir un segundo párrafo explicando que videos o artículos de Ekpa’palek te ayudaron para escribir tu motivación.
  3. Comprometerse a apoyarnos con alguna actividad especial en Ekpa’palek (ejemplos: administrando las redes sociales por una semana, haciendo un video, escribiendo un artículo, presentar Ekpa’palek en su universidad, editando un video o ….cualquier otra idea).
  4. Mandar toda la información a nuestro correo institucional : ekpapalek.latinos@gmail.com antes del 15 de Junio.
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Becas Ekpa’palek para festival de cine científico

Estimada comunidad Ekpa’palek, del 20 al 23 de junio de 2019, el segundo Festival Internacional de Cine Científico SILBERSALZ y la conferencia SILBERSALZ, las cuáles tendrán lugar en Halle (Saale), Alemania y tenemos dos entradas valorizadas en 480 euros para dos participantes latinos/as! El tema del festival de este año es “La ciencia del amor”, pero la conferencia también explora todos los demás temas científicos. Más información sobre la conferencia aquí:

La conferencia del festival incluye un taller de capacitación y diálogo de 2 días (22 y 23 de junio), para que científicos/as, medios de comunicación y cineastas trabajen juntos, debatan sobre ciencia y cine (incluidos documentales, Internet y otras películas, en general). El objetivo principal es el diálogo y el intercambio entre estos diversos grupos, pero también es posible sentar las bases para futuros proyectos cinematográficos.

Dos oportunidades están disponibles y para ello tienes que mandarnos la siguiente información:

  1. Asegurarnos de que puedes ir en los días descritos a Halle (Alemania). Estos costos corren por ti mismo.
  2. Mandarnos un párrafo cóntándonos cómo planeas usar lo aprendido para desarrollar un proyecto en Ekpa’palek en relación al uso de videos para promover nuestra misión y/o trabajo.
  3. Mandar esta información antes del 26 de Abril a nuestro email institucional.

Exitos!

Equipo Ekpa’palek

¿Cómo ganar una beca con un párrafo? tips!

Estimada comunidad Ekpa’palek, a continuación tenemos los resultados de las becas que ofrecimos para DataCamp. En Ekpa’palek estamos felices por el número de participantes pero un poco tristes que sólo hayamos podido dárselos a 10 personas. Aprovechamos esta oportunidad para resaltar algunos tips y recomendaciones para hacer postulaciones:

1. Leer bien las indicaciones y mandar la postulación en el idioma que se les pide (en este caso fue Inglés y recibimos 50% de las postulaciones en Español.

2. Escribir un párrafo convincente que demuestre como darte la beca a ti es la mejor opción. Para darles un ejemplo de ello, vamos a mostrarles una de las mejores respuestas que nos llegaron y en cursiva explicaremos en más detalle cómo cada frase que escribió el/la postulante hace su postulación exitosa:

“The reason why I would like to win one of the subscriptions to DataCamp is because I am currently doing my thesis project in socioecological vulnerability to Climate Change in Peru and for this, I need knowledge in programming, especially in R ” (aquí la/el postulante explica su motivación).

“Additionally, I have also been exploring other Languages like Python and SQL, since some databases I work with require it ” (aquí la/el postulante demuestra cómo ya ha estado estudiando estos tópicos).

“I have been practicing with the free DataCamp modules, but I would like to have access to the premium practice sessions that are more advanced, also the offered projects seem to be a novel and effective initiative to apply the knowledge acquired in the modules (aquí la/el postulante nos menciona cómo esta familiarizado/da con los que servicios que provee la plataforma de DataCamp).

“I know that enhancing knowledge in Data Science is now essential and therefore I will do my best to take advantage of this opportunity, which will not only contribute to my personal training, but also to the development of a project of national concern that will serve to establish mitigation measures that benefit species and coastal communities ” (aquí la/el postulante demuestra el impacto que tendría el que le demos la beca en su desarrollo personal pero también en el desarrollo de su país a través de el/ella)

3. Otro aspecto que también se tuvo que tomar en cuenta para la selección fue el compromiso hecho por cada mentee (estudiante Ekpa’palek). Dentro de los/as ganadores, tenemos mentees que nos han apoyado con videos testimoniales o presentaciones de Ekpa’palek en sus universidades o mentees ayudándonos con la creación de nuestra nueva website. En relación a los mentores, agradecemos mucho sus super-esfuerzos por además de ser mentores apoyarnos escribiendo artículos en el blog, donaciones y/o asumiendo otros cargos dentro de la organización que nos ayudan a hacer crecer nuestro impacto.


A continuación la relación de ganadores/as:

AlejandroHurtado Chacñama
LeslyParaguay de la cruz
NoeliaValderrama
LuisSoto Ugaldi
AlfredoNuñez
JazzminArevalo
YannetQuispe
VeronicaSantaFe
SolFernandez
FloroOrtiz Contreras

Felicitaciones a los/as ganadores, en las siguientes semanas les estará llegando el acceso a DataCamp. A los/as que no ganaron esta vez no se desanimen! y sígannos de cerca para enterarse de próximas oportunidades!


Un abrazo
Equipo Ekpa’palek.

Educación en Ciencia de Datos? gana una suscripción con Ekpa’palek!

Ekpa’palek ofrece 10 suscripciones GRATUITAS por un año (valorizado en 348 dolares) en la compañia DataCamp, la cual es una Ed Tech que trabaja en la democratización de la educación de la ciencia de datos. Ofrecen cursos interactivos de R, Python, hojas de cálculo, SQL y shell que cubren temas de ciencia de datos, estadísticas, análisis y aprendizaje automático.

DataCamp ayuda a las empresas a responder sus preguntas más difíciles haciendo un mejor uso de los datos. Su alumnado adquiere y mantiene el flujo de datos en la plataforma de fluidez de datos más avanzada del mundo aprendiendo continuamente de los mejores científicos/as de datos del mundo.

” Nuestros estudiantes aprenden haciendo, aplicando cada lección de inmediato y respondiendo a los comentarios instantáneos “

Data Camp

 

Requisitos: 

1. Ser o haber sido mentee de Ekpa’palek.

2. Mandar un email a nuestro contacto institucional y en un párrafo mencionar por qué quisieran ganarse una suscripción en DataCamp y cómo esta oportunidad les ayudaría en su desarrollo profesional. El email debe ser escrito en Inglés dado que los cursos en DataCamp son en Inglés.

Fecha límite: 23 Marzo

Muchas gracias a nuestra ex-mentora Paula Martinez (https://www.datacamp.com/instructors/orchid00) y a DataCamp for confiar en Ekpa’palek y en el potencial de sus estudiantes (mentees).

https://www.datacamp.com/about

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Tres años empoderando estudiantes con Ekpa’palek

Terminó el 2018 y no podemos creer que ya venimos trabajando por tres años consecutivos llenos de energía y con la ilusión permanente de apoyar a nuestros estudiantes y realzar el potencial latino!

A continuación les compartimos lo que logramos en el tercer año con el deseo de inspirarte a que te nos unas y sigamos creciendo en lo profesional/personal y apoyando a nuestro talento latinoamericano!

Programa Mentorías Profesionales en cifras

142 mentorías profesionales ocurrieron este año, ayudando de esa manera a 93 estudiantes! Además, basados en las respuestas de 88 mentees tenemos los siguientes resultados:

  • 98% de los/as mentees califican al programa 5/5 (súper bueno)
  • 93% de los/as mentees ganaron confianza en sí mismos.
  • 96% aprendieron de las experiencias de sus mentores.
  • 89% aprendieron nuevas herramientas de desarrollo profesional
  • 100% recomendaría el programa a sus amistades y 98% lo volvería a usar.

Nuestras redes sociales: Facebook, You Tube y el blog

  • 59 nuevos artículos acerca de desarrollo profesional e historias de éxito que generaron 33,974 visitas a los artículos de nuestro blog con lectores de 96 países diferentes en el 2018.
  • 33 nuevos videos en nuestro canal de You Tube que alcanzaron 33,585 vistas en el 2018, siendo los países que más nos visitan México, Perú, España y Colombia.
  • En Facebook logramos un promedio mensual de 15,369 vistas (fan page de Ekpa’palek) y 2138 vistas (fan page de Ekpa’palek Mujeres). Muchas gracias a todos y todas los que nos siguen y comparten nuestros posts y en especial a nuestra social manager Keyla Torres y editora de videos Alexandra Martinez!
Países alrededor del mundo que leen nuestro blog

Ofrecimos becas para cursos en Biología Molecular

Gracias al apoyo del Instituto Bárbara McClintock ofrecimos cinco becas para estudiantes latinoamericanos y cuatro becas para docentes universitarios quienes también nos dejaron sus testimonios acerca de como lo aprendido les ayudará a empoderar a sus estudiantes. Además también aún tenemos becas para seguir cursos en línea en She Leaps University (contáctanos).

Capacitamos a nuestros mentores y mentees

A través de webinarios internos capacitamos a nuestros mentores en cómo ser buen un buen mentor/a basándonos en los tres años de trabajo en Ekpa’palek y también los/as capacitamos (conjuntamente con algunos mentees seleccionados) en cómo abrirse oportunidades en el extranjero despues del PhD o máster.

La campaña Mujeres Influyentes tuvo un gran impacto!

“Mujeres influyentes” es una iniciativa Ekpa’palek Mujeres, nuestro programa enfocado en el empoderamiento de la mujer en latinoamérica donde a través de videos hechos por mujeres latinoamericanas líderes buscamos promover que más chicas y chicos se sientan inspirados/as a seguir una carrera profesional teniendo como ejemplo a mujeres líderes latinoamericanas. Gracias al increíble trabajo de Marizoila Fontana, project manager de Ekpa’palek Mujeres, seleccionamos a 17 mujeres latinas con las siguientes profesiones: Ingeniera de Industrias Alimentarias, Economista Anestesióloga, Ingeniera Civil Industrial, Odontóloga, Microbióloga, Física de Partículas, Comercio Internacional, Ingeniera Informática, Física, Bióloga, Arquitecta, Geocientífica, Nutricionista, Arqueóloga, Epidemióloga y Médico Infectóloga quiénes con sus historias inspiradoras lograron atraer muchas vistas y comentarios en nuestro canal desde estudiantes hasta padres de familia. Nuestros comentarios favoritos fueron:

– “Me encantó. Se lo voy a poner a ver a mis hijos para motivarlos al estudio. Ya que quieren ser científicos. Gracias” Beatriz Mora (respuesta al video de Reina Camacho)

– “Gracias por el vídeo, yo quiero ser física también y ver que hay mujeres como tú, me motiva y enserio gracias por eso” Melissa Perez
(respuesta al video de Génessis Perez)

– “Que mujer tan genial yo igual quiero ser médico de investigación” Catalina Lira Cofre (respuesta al video de Ingrid Roig)

Afianzamos relaciones con la Alianza del Pacífico

Gracias a la invitación a la mesa de diálogo para el empoderamiento de la mujer de las Mujeres del Pacífico pudimos evaluar el 1er Informe de Programas de Apoyo al Emprendimiento Femenino de la Alianza del Pacífico así como también interactuar con muchas otras organizaciones trabajando en el tema en Perú. Marizoila Fontana, nos representó y presentó nuestra campaña de Mujeres Influyentes.

Continuamos dando charlas en empoderamiento de la mujer

En la Universidad Nacional José Faustino Sanchez Carrión y en la universidad SISE (ambas en Perú) gracias a las presentaciones de Enma Marín y Blanca Flores y el apoyo de Bryam Colán y Carmen Rojas (docentes universitarios Peruanos).

Ekpa’palek se dió a conocer en diferentes países

Asistimos al Asian Forum of Global Governance (India), donde presentamos Ekpa’palek y mostramos como profesionales en latinoamérica tienen el potencial para resolver problemas globales y ser jugadores claves en gobernanza global. También lo hicimos durante el evento anual de la Global Young Academy of Sciences en Tailandia y en la universidad Burapha de Pattaya (Tailandia). Además también presentamos Ekpa’palek durante el Foro de los Países de América Latina y el Caribe sobre Desarrollo Sostenible de la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL) de las Naciones Unidas (Chile). Ahí pudimos presentar Ekpa’palek en un panel que compartimos con representantes de Laboratoria, the Millenials Movement y RedLatam.

Rossana Maguiña nos presentó en Costa Rica, Ursula Harman lo hizo en radio Capital (Perú), Nils Rafael en el Centro de Estudios Genómicos del Perú-Cegenp (Perú), José Avila en la Universidad Nacional Federico Villareal (Perú), Charlene Luján durante una presentación con Modesto Montoya – durante el XI Congreso Peruano de Ornitología – en el Colegio Médico Veterinario de Loreto y durante el curso de postgrado Redacción de Artículos Científicos en la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Perú) , Clarissa Ríos en el Instituto Bárbara McClintock (Perú), Natalia Hernández en el evento “Building Bridges” (Australia), Floro Ortiz en Ayacucho durante el día del Ecólogo (Perú) y Edith Cruzado en la Universidad Católica (Perú).

Aparecimos en periódicos, revistas e incluso en Nature!

La revista científica latinoamericana Persea nos hizo una entrevista, así como también el periódico El Uni Andino de Colombia. Además, tuvimos la oportunidad de aparecer en el periódico La Tercera de Chile y en la famosa revista científica internacional Nature.

Los logros de nuestros mentores/as nos ayudan a crecer

  • Julio Miranda fue elegido entre muchos PhDs en el mundo para asistir al 69avo Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting donde tuvo la oportunidad de conocer a premios Nobels en física!
  • Charlene Luján recibió una Beca de Doctorado en el Extranjero de parte del FONDECYT del gobierno del Perú.
  • José Avila gano el premio de mejor presentación oral en el Congreso Coreano de Ficología 2018.
  • Alejandro de la Puente empezó a trabajar como Director Asociado en la Academia de Ciencias de Nueva York (EEUU).
  • Ariana Picciali recibió el premio Barón Nicolet dado por la Academia Royal de Ciencias de Bélgica por su trabajo en el en el campo de las atmósferas planetarias.
  • Ursula Harman y Celeste Morinigo son ahora mujeres influenciando la política de Perú y Paraguay respectivamente. Ursula fue elegida regidora en su distrito y Celeste fue selecionada como miembro en la red de mujeres políticas de su país.
  • Sandra López (previamente galardonada por L’Oréal-UNESCO) fue galardonada por la editorial Elsevier y UNESCO por su trayectoria científica durante el foro CILAC (Panamá).
  • Rosa Calderón consiguió beca para su doctorado en Francia.

Los logros de nuestros mentees nos enorgullecen

Nuestros estudiantes nos escribieron artículos, testimonios e hicieron videos compartiendo lo aprendido con sus mentores y lo que lograron te lo dejamos en este artículo para que lo leas y te sientas inspirado/a a buscar y trabajar por más.

Te esperamos con mucho cariño este 2019! Y no olvides que también nos puedes apoyar donando en este link.


Guía para aplicar a programas de Ph.D., en Estados Unidos – II Parte

Continuando con la publicación de la Guía para aplicar a programas de Ph.D., en Estados Unidos, presentamos los capítulos restantes, del 4 al 10, que pueden enlazar con la primera publicación: Guía para aplicar a programas de PhD., en Estados Unidos– Oportunidades.

Como se explica con anterioridad, este material es una contribución del ingeniero Kevin Villegas Rosales, elaborada para apoyar a otros jóvenes profesionales en la búsqueda de oportunidades de especialización.

Continuación:

  1. Letter of Recommendation
  2. What sets you apart: the letter of recommendation

The letter of recommendation is the core of your application, and to be honest it takes years to build good letters. In specific cases a letter of recommendation can grand you admission immediately, and perhaps make you competitive against the world.

Professors are very busy people. They have to take care of their students, the funding, the lab, the presentations, the lectures, and, even most important, their families. So as a rule of thumb, the letter of recommendation should be asked several weeks in advance before the deadline. One month in advance is a good amount of time.

Also, you need to consider that the professors need to write the letter and that could take time as well. Crafting an astonishing letter is a lengthy and tedious process.

When I sent out an e-mail to my professors I attached my CV (includes your past academic/research achievements), a brief description of the places/positions that I was applying to, and info about your future intended research and academic goals.

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Down I put the layout of the e-mail that I sent.

I recall that my professors didn’t get back to me after a week, so I decided to send a follow up e-mail (this was a suggestion of Luis Jauregui and I think is great idea and I still use it these days). Sunday nights are a great time to send out e-mails, so he/she can check it on Monday morning. Hence, the ideal time to send a follow up e-mail would be Sunday night as well.

From one of my professors I got this reply: ‘Yes. I will be happy to write a letter for you. Pls make sure send me a list of addresses and due dates, and copy to xxx. (Also remind/check the letters status 1-2 days before the due dates).

You will get notified as the letters of recommendations are submitted, so if 1.5 weeks before the deadline they are not there yet send a reminder. One of my professors send the letters after the admission’s deadlines and there was no problem. In most of the cases this is ok, since the graduate schools knows about all the ups and downs of writing a letter of recommendation. The application process asks you for three letters of recommendation.

It is mandatory that one of them come from your college, but the other two could come from any part of the world. One of my letters came from undergraduate adviser at UNI, Abel Gutarra. The other two came from abroad. One from Prof. Yong P. Chen at Purdue University (this came from my internship with nanoREPU). The last letter came from Prof. Gianluigi Botton at McMaster University (this is an internship I did the year after my time at Purdue). So, I managed to get three letters of recommendation. From the admission’s perspective it is better to have letters from people that are known worldwide. After you got screened with the standardized test they will give more chances to well-known names that unknowns letter from Peru, unfortunately. That is all for now.

  1. Letter of Recommendation

Dear Prof. XXXX

This is XXXX (nanoREPU), the undergraduate from Peru that worked in your laboratory during the spring semester of 2013. I worked under Dr. Tai-Lung Wu’s guidance in the superconductivity of exfoliated BSCCO samples. I hope everything is going great with the research at the QMD lab, and that all the projects are going great.

I am graduating from my undergrad next month, and I am in the application process for graduate school, and I was wondering if I could get a letter of recommendation on my behalf. My CV is attached.

I am applying for PhD to the following places: Purdue University (ECE), Columbia University (Phys.), Stanford University (Appl. Phys.), UC Berkeley (Phys.), Princeton University (Phys.), Cornell (Appl. Phys.), Harvard (Appl. Phys.), UC San Diego (Phys.), MIT (Phys.), and McMaster (MSE). My interest in those departments is in nanoscience, nanotechnology, and condense matter. I want to mainly focus in the study of quantum phenomena in nanosystems, and also introduce these new phenomena and properties into new technologies. I want to make a difference and contribute to the scientific community with new knowledge, and I think I can do that, first, through graduate school; later on, I would like to follow a position in academia.

Please, let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks you so much in advance.

Best rega

XXXXXX

 

 

  1. Statement of Purpose
  2. You are not a robot: statement of purpose

The statement of Purpose exists to bring life to your application. It will show to the admission’s office that the you write a proper essay. As the standardized tests, a perfect SoP won’t grant you admission, but a bad written one could put you out of the race.

A statement of purpose that dazzles takes a couples of months of rewriting and rewriting. I found writing the essay very interesting. It made me realize what has happened up to that point career wise.

I started my SoP by deconstructing the past. I went through memories from college, high school, etc. of events that I believed led me to where I was standing at that point. I believe I named all of the great life-changing events that led me where I was.

Back when I was writing the essay I convinced myself that a good SoP will make you stand out among hundreds of applicants. Up to this point I haven’t been able to clarify the mysteries behind the admission process. Nevertheless, after reviewing hundreds of applications the CVs tend to look quite similar.

I started thinking about the outline of the SoP as I read: How to write a winning personal statement for graduate and professional school by Richard J. Stelzer. You can find it in the library of EducationUSA or on the internet. Also, there is plenty of information in the internet about how to write a great statement of purpose.

Each statement of purpose is different for each school you are applying to, because each school ask you to answer different specific questions. So, be sure to follow what they ask you. Let’s see what some schools got to tell you.

Purdue University. The statement of purpose should be 300-500 words concerning your purpose for undertaking or continuing graduate study, your reasons for wanting to study at Purdue, and your research interests, professional plans, and career goals. You also may explain any special circumstances applicable to your background and elaborate on your scholarly publications, awards, achievements, abilities, and/or professional history.

Columbia University. Describe how your professional and academic background has prepared you to pursue the Ph.D. program in Electrical Engineering at Columbia University FFSEAS. If there are any special circumstances that need to be brought to the attention of the Admission Committee, please include that information as well.

Stanford University. The Statement of Purpose should describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program at Stanford, your preparation for this field of study, research interests, future career plans, and other aspects of your background and interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. The Statement of Purpose should not exceed two pages.

UC Berkeley. Please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or research interests in your chosen area of study, and your future career goals. Please be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you.

  1. Statement of Purpose

 Princeton University. Please write a statement of your current academic and future career plans as they relate to the Princeton department to which you are applying. In doing so, please cite relevant academic, professional and personal experiences that influenced your decision to apply for graduate admission and to obtain a graduate degree. Your statement should not exceed 1,000 words and must be written in English.

Cornell University. This one- or two-page statement states your reasons for undertaking graduate work and explains your academic interests, including their relation to your undergraduate study and professional goals. Include your full name and your proposed field of study at the top of each page.

Harvard University. You will be asked to answer the following question: “Describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen program of study at Harvard. What experiences led you to your research ambitions? Concisely state your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Briefly indicate your career objectives. Your statement should not exceed 1,000 words.”

So, begin by understanding well what each program asks from you.

Your first step into graduate school, the first paragraph.

I never learned how to write properly. I used to fall asleep in Spanish and Grammar classes and did not have rigorous education. However, along the way of the application I learned a structure of how the SoP should look like. I learned that, in this template, the first paragraph serves to summarize all your essay and conveys enough information to be self-sustained. Also, during those months I learned that it is true that most of the time you will only read the very first few lines of an e-mail, essay, etc. So, try to get the attention of the reader with your first paragraph. Begin with a catchy sentence. Write about a personal experience that put you where you are right now – something to surprise the reader. Then, name your personal experiences in research, and order them in a coherent way to convey how these events opened your eyes into your future. Correlate your experiences with your future goals e.g. with your journey of learning and discovery. Build your profile mentioning your outstanding GPA, and convey the idea of a top notch student mentioning briefly the awards you have gain through all the past years. Furthermore, you can add a little more of a personality to your first paragraph by mentioning some outreach activities, and end with a very piercing and vehement sentence.

These what I kind of did and it just one way of doing it. I had a lot of help from people that revisited my essay repeatedly. Just before the submission the final essay looked so different from the first draft I made – that energized me, it is possible to make things better by iteration.

Your next paragraphs should deconstruct your future goals and interests. Show your future intents. Why you are interested in that specific research program at that specific school? Facilities, location, faculty, etc. Mention three professors you are interested to work with. Briefly mention what interests you from them.

Finally, you can dive yourself into your past experiences in detail. Reconstruct the steps that walked you to research, to your specific topic of research. Enumerate the different aspects of your contribution into the different research projects you have participated into. Write, gracefully, those moments that surprised you – remember that this is your only chance to put.

  1. Statement of Purpose

Your own voice into your application, so do not tell a story as a robot. Mention the techniques and new knowledge acquired, and, more important, highlight your discoveries. Enumerate your diligent efforts to achieve all what you have accomplished.

Finally, conclude with a boilerplate sentence such as ‘I am sure I am the best fit for your program, etc.’

Below, you will find the final draft of my essay.

When I was a child and watched science tv shows, I was always fascinated by the latest discoveries and continually asked myself how do they do it? Years later as an undergraduate in engineering physics, the blending of engineering and physics combined with research experiences answered my question. My questions were satisfied once I had the opportunity to perform research at three different universities in a multidisciplinary field (nanotechnology): National University of Engineering (Peru, 1 article published), Purdue University (USA) and McMaster University (Canada). In these research experiences, I interacted with several PhD students, post-doctors and professors. As a result, I realized that I wanted to make a contribution in science and engineering. Therefore, I strongly believe that being trained to conduct research at the graduate level will help my ongoing pursuit of learning and discovery. Working diligently in my research internships and simultaneously maintaining a 4.0 GPA has been very challenging but rewarding because I have received several awards from my university, the Peruvian NSF, and different non-governmental offices that sponsored my internships. My leadership skills were also sharpened during my experiences abroad and I have organized journal clubs and research seminars at my local school, to motivate other undergraduate students to perform high level research. All my research experiences have enhanced my confidence and motivation to pursue graduate studies. I am certain that I will overcome all the challenges I will face with an astute mind and determination.

My short term goal is to conduct research in electrical engineering as a PhD student at Princeton University because it will expose me to state-of-art research such as 2D materials such as graphene in condensed matter. The electrical engineering faculty generates top-notch research of which I am very familiar with and would be excited to be part of.

I would like to have the guidance of Prof. M. Shayegan because of his study of many-body interactions systems in semiconductors such as the integer and fractional quantum hall effect. In addition, I would like to work with Prof. B. Rand because of his work in the engineering of LED using thin films conformed purely in nanoclusters. I think their work is a good match with my previous experience in 2D materials, scanning probe microscopes, and electron microscopy. My long term goal is to become a professor in a research university and contribute to a growing body of scientists and engineers in Peru who are determined to nurture the next generation of students interested in science and engineering as I am.

  1. Statement of Purpose

As a side project, I decided to design and build a lock-in amplifier from scratch. After having constructed it, I obtained data showing that I could measure picoamperes with the lock-in amplifier.

My second cornerstone happened when I was selected by the nanotechnology branch of Research Experience for Peruvian Undergraduates (REPU) program from a pool of the best undergraduate students from all over Peru to participate in a research experience at Purdue University. In 2013, I worked in Prof. Yong P. Chen’s group in the fabrication of stacked devices using BiSrCaCuO as one component of a heterostructure. Before learning how to exfoliate BiSrCaCuO I went through the exfoliation of other crystals, such as graphene, MoS2, NbSe2 and boron nitride, which I learned in record time. In order to complete the project, we fabricated BSCCO field-effect transistors and we identified vanishing superconductivity for samples thinner than 80 nm. During my time at Purdue, I attended the APS March meeting of 2013 in Maryland. Running from room to room to catch various, interesting talks was very exciting, and being surrounded by well-known and respected scientists really inspired me. That experience motivated me to work harder to become a great scientist/engineer. At the end of my internship, I went to Yale University to present my work from Purdue University to professors, post-docs, PhD students, other undergraduates from Yale University, and the REPU community. During this final meeting, I enjoyed questions and discussions with people from different backgrounds like chemistry, biology, physics and engineering.

Finally, my third cornerstone was when I interned at McMaster University (Canada). In order to get this internship I directly contacted Prof. Gianluigi Botton and I convinced him that I was capable of conducting research well. In Prof. Botton’s group my project was to study graphene as an electrode for fuel cells. More specifically, my project consisted in the mechanically exfoliation of graphene, doped it with nitrogen gas, and sputter platinum on it (~1nm clusters). In order to study graphene with transmission electron microscopes (TEM), I suspended graphene on a TEM grid. After more than 20 failed trials with different reported methods I designed and built a transfer stage backed up with an optical microscope, which enhanced the transfer yield rate. We reliably measured down to 1% concentration of nitrogen in single layer graphene using Auger spectroscopy.

In conclusion, I believe that my experiences as an undergraduate researcher have prepared me to excel as a graduate student, and I strongly believe to be prepared for the challenges of your PhD program.

  1. Transcript
  2. The Resume is not an academic document: the curriculum vitae (CV)

At the end of this section you will find the CV that I applied to graduate school with. The layout was not my original idea but the contribution of senior people who helped to shape it. I would like to give special acknowledgements to the nanoREPU team which had a great contribution on this layout.

Looking back into what the my CV ended up being I recognized these themes: Objective, Research Interests, Education, Awards, Publications, Research Experience, Conferences and Presentations, Laboratory skills, Memberships, Language skills, Extra – curricular courses, Academic Leadership, and Personal References. This outline must not be considered a universal guideline, proceed to adapt it to your own personality.

The Objective section will give the reader a glance about yourself and your future goals towards a graduate program.

The Research Interests section will give the reader a glance about your personal interest regarding research. It is a crucial part because a mismatch between your interests will rise suspicions.

The Education section will summarize your past records. You may include the duration of the program, your major, but most important it is a great spot to give your class ranking and your GPA.

The Awards section it is of great importance. The recognition of yourself by others is a good indicator of accomplishments throughout your career.

The Publications sections is a very important one. However, none graduate program requires prior publications before entering a PhD or a MS. It is in this sections where you list any publications you have. Furthermore, you could also show that you have ongoing projects.

The Research Experience section is the main dish of your CV. It is a quick glance over your research record and it gives you the chance to highlight yourself up to the eyes of the reader. Remember that it is always important to sell yourself towards the specific requirements.

The Conferences and Presentations sections is important because it shows your early progress as a young to be researcher and also shows that you have experience sharing your science.

The Laboratory skills, certainly not as important as critical thinking and problem-solving skills. However, specific skills could reduce the time you spend getting use to the environment of a new laboratory.

The Membership section can show your commitment and awareness to your scientific community.

The Extra-curricular courses can show your willingness to learn besides the mandatory courses you took to finish your major.

  1. Transcript

The Academic Leadership can show your willingness to make other people grow and your spirit to help and contribute.

To conclude, Personal References.

Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX

Adressssssssssssssssssssss (+51)

xxxxxxxxx Adressssssssssssssssssssssssss                                         Xxxxxxxxx

@gmail.com

Objective

I seek to obtain a P.hD. degree in a very well renowned program. During my P.hD. years I would like to contribute to the scientific community with the research I would perform. I aim to put in practice my problem solving, analytical thinking, and leadership skills in a very competitive laboratory.

Research Interest

  • Experimental condensed matter physics and nanoscience (graphene/2D materials, superconductors, novel materials, quantum phenomena). •
  • Characterization of materials in the nanoscale with electron microscopy (structural composition analysis, TEM, SEM). •
  • Scanning Probe Microscopy (tuning fork based, fabrication of tips, study of surfaces STM/AFM).

Education

2010 – 2014 (Expected) | National University of Engineering (UNI), Lima, Peru B. Engineering Physics, ranked 1st in my class. GPA: 4.0

Awards

  • 2 nd place in undergraduate research paper (topic: sciences). ‘Structure your ideas contest’, organized by a link between industry and Peruvian NSF (Concytec), Peru, November 2014.
  • Peruvian NSF (Concytec) fellowship 2014. Full stipend for a 3 month research internship at McMaster University, Canada, spring 2014.
  • Manuel Pardo y Lavalle’s award, 2013. Distinction given to UNI students with the highest GPA in their major by their 3rd year of courses.
  • nanoREPU program fellowship 2013. Chosen for a 3 months research internship at Purdue University, USA, spring 2013. (http://repuprogram.com/REPU/Alumni.html)
  • proUNI (organization formed by distinguished UNI alumni) fellowship. Full stipend for 3 months research internship at Purdue University, USA.
  • 1 st place in Nanotechnology poster competition at 3rd International Conference of Spectroscopy, Peru, February 2012. 7.
  1. Transcript

Publications

  • A. Villegas, and A. Gutarra, “Controlled geometry and sharpness of carbon-based nanometer tips: a theoretical and experimental approach” (in progress).
  • A. Moran Meza, C. Lubin, F. Thoyer, K. A. Villegas, A. Gutarra, F. Martin, and J. Cousty, “Fabrication of ultra-sharp tips from carbon fiber for STM investigations of graphene on 6H-SiC(0001) surfaces”, Carbon 86, 363 (2015).
  • A. Villegas, and G. Botton, “Inversion of contrast, SEM imaging, at different bias and accelerating voltages” (in progress).
  • A. Villegas, S. Stambula, and G. Botton, “N-doping and Pt-atoms decorated mechanically exfoliated suspended graphene” (in progress).
  • A. Villegas, J. Aparicio, T. L. Wu, and Y. P. Chen, “Fabrication, characterization, and study of mechanically exfoliated materials” (in progress).
  • A. Villegas, and A. Gutarra, “Fabrication of carbon fiber tips for Scanning Probe Microscopy” (selected for cover), TECNIA 22, 17-22 (2012).

Research Experience

McMaster University, Advisor: Dr. Gianluigi Botton Microscopy of Nanoscale Materials Laboratory (01/2014 – 04/2014)

I introduced mechanical exfoliation (graphene) to the group for the first time. I built and designed a homemade transfer stage to suspend graphene on a TEM grid. We achieved to doped graphene with nitrogen gas (concentrations of doping could be varied). I designed the conditions to sputter ~ 1 nm Pt clusters on graphene. I did TEM and SEM analysis on suspended/non-suspended graphene.

Purdue University, Advisor: Dr. Yong P. Chen

Quantum Matter and Devices Lab

(02/2013 – 04/2014)

I mechanically exfoliated graphene, MoS2, BN and BSCCO. I measured the height of exfoliated flakes with AFM in tapping mode configuration and I corroborated their number of layers by Raman spectroscopy. We built FETs of BSCCO with different thickness (10 nm to 80 nm) on SiO2 wafers and I performed electronic transport measurements at low temperatures (down to T = 1.2 K) using a variable temperature insert.

National University of Engineering, Advisor: Dr. Abel Gutarra

Nanostructured Materials Laboratory,

(04/2014 – 05/2014)

I designed and built a low-cost lock-in amplifier from scratch; this amplifier will be used to measure the photocurrent (in pA) generated in a photodiode by light scattering of non-metallic nanoparticles.

(07/2011 – ) We work in the fabrication of a tuning-fork based AFM. I electrochemically etch carbon fibers to a tip (probe for AFM). I designed my experimental set-up (micromanipulators and electrochemical cell). I achieved reproducibility in the fabrication process. I can control the geometry and sharpness (~ 10-50 nm) of the tip. We measured the tip radius with SEM and Field-Emission experiments. Using the fabricated tips we could reconstruct the graphene lattice.

40567209_893824297489699_2819826122097688576_n

  1. Transcript

under STM experiments. I am working on theory and simulations to understand the underlying phenomena.

Conference and Presentations

  • A. Villegas, T. L. Wu, L. Fang, Z. Xiao, Y. P. Chen. “Study of mechanically exfoliated BSCCO, high temperature superconductor”, XXII Peruvian Physical Symposium, Lima – Peru (October 2013) – Conference. •
  • A. Villegas, T. L. Wu, and Y. P. Chen. “Mechanical exfoliation of 2D materials and its morphological characterization”, REPU 2013 meeting, Yale University – USA (March 2013) – Conference. •
  • A. Villegas. Participation in the APS March Meeting 2013. •
  • A. Villegas, A. Gutarra. “Fabrication of carbon fiber tips for Scanning Probe Microscopy”. XXI Peruvian Physical Symposium, Trujillo – Peru (October 2012) – Conference. •
  • A. Villegas, A. Gutarra. “Electrochemical analysis of anodic dissolution of carbon fibers”. 3st Congress of Physics Engineering, Medellin – Colombia (September 2012) – Conference. •
  • A. Villegas, A. Gutarra. “Method for the fabrication of tips on nanometer scale based on carbon fibers”. 3rd International Conference of Spectroscopy, Lima – Peru (February 2012) – Poster.
  • Laboratory skills Imaging & characterization, SEM, TEM, Auger spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, AFM, optical microscopy, interferometry measurement.
  • Vacuum components
  • Microfabrication, RF magnetron sputtering, plasma etching, electrochemical etching/polishing, mechanical exfoliation.
  • Programming, C, Matlab, LabView (Intermediate), IGOR pro, Latex.
  • Data Processing, Origin Pro, IGOR Pro, ImageJ.
  • Electronic measurement, lock-in amplifier, probe
  1. Transcript
  • “X-ray and electron diffraction applied to nanomaterials and nanomedicine”, International Workshop, Peru, June 2012.
  • “Exploring Quantum Physics”, Joint Quantum Institute, Maryland University, trough coursera.org
  • “Atomic Force Microscopy”, 3st Congress of Physics Engineering, Colombia. September 2012. • “Theoretical-Experimental Techniques for studying nanosystems”, Nano-Peru, Peru. November 2011.
  • “I Course of Molecular Biology”, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Peru. March 2011.

Miscellaneous Activities

  • ‘Journal Club @ UNI’, I scheduled the room, oriented the group of students, and made a calendar of papers presented; first journal club at National University of Engineering. (04/2013 – 07/2013) and (04/2014 – 07/2014).
  • ‘thinkUNI’, talks of how to pursue graduate studies directed to undergraduates. (12/2013) – I served as head organizer. I scheduled the place for the conference, and was chair of the conference. (12/2012) – I served as part of the organizer committee. I helped to set up the conference room, and build/distribute the flyers.
  • ‘Sharing Science’, I served as part of the organizer committee and was chair of the conferences, talks about research projects from graduate students to undergraduates, (04/2012 – 07/2012).

Personal References

Dr. Yong P. Chen Purdue University, USA                                           Phone: (765) 494- 0947

yongchen@purdue.edu

Dr. Gianluigi Botton McMaster University, Canada         Phone: (905) 525-9140, ext. 24767 gbotton@mcmaster.ca

Dr. Abel Gutarra National University of Engineering, Peru          Phone: +51 987-957- 517 agutarra@uni.edu.pe 7

Transcript  7.

You against the world: the transcript plus some side documents

Another required document is your transcript e.g. ‘tu certificado de notas’. In the case that you haven’t graduated yet, you can apply to graduate school with the latest updated transcript.

That could mean that you present your transcript up to the 9th semester if you are in the 10th . Also, if you failed courses along the way use ‘certificado depurado’. I failed ‘lenguaje’ in my 3rd semester, so I needed to get the latter transcript. At UNI you could get a transcript from ORCE or your own department. From friends that applied before me they told me to use the one from ORCE, so I don’t know if the one my department would have worked. Nevertheless, the ORCE one is ‘more official’. You will need to translate it.

During the application process I went to EducationUSA (located at ICPNA) and there they told ICPNA has a translation service, so I used that one. They will ask you to scan the document and send it to them through e-mail, and you will have to make a deposit to a bank account for the translations. When the work is done they will write you back for you to pick the documents. I also want to let you know that EducationUSA offers support for the application process – they even give small scholarships for test prep and they can afford to pay some school for you to apply to. Go early in the process to get advantage of this opportunity.

UNI does not use the GPA system and I am not aware if any school in Peru uses it. I recall there are many GPA convertors in the internet, but I know the grades in Peru fluctuate depending on your university, so its tricky and I don’t have a universal solution. Fortunately for me, UNI had implemented a grade-to-GPA conversion system, so I used directly that one.

From of my visits to EducationUSA I learned that they provide a document called ‘Educational System and Grading System in Peru’. This document clarifies to US schools how grades work in Peru. Hence, it is highly recommended to attach this document with your transcript.

Many universities ask for a certificate that states the expected date of graduation, which means last semester of courses. A good friend suggested me to take advantage of it. I asked for such a document and on it I asked the Head of my department to write a note. The note stated my ranking among my peers.

For example

This document certifies that xxxxxxxxxxx, has finished his 9th semester, out of 10, with the highest cumulative grade of his Engineering Physics class. Up to his 9th semester his cumulative grade was 14.643 which is an equivalent to A+ (excellent). His cumulative grade is an equivalent to a GPA of 4.0.

Also, this is provisional certificate that Mr. xxxxx expected date of graduation is December of 2014.

  1. Post-application e-mail

It took me a while to just craft this template. Luie, contributed to it a lot – my English was very bad at that time, now is a little better. Thanks, Luie.

If you do not receive a reply e-mail do not forgot to use a follow up e-mail after a week.

Dear Professor XXXXX,

 

My name is XXXX.

I am finishing up my undergraduate studies in xxxxxx from xxxxxxxxxx at Lima, Peru. I am applying to Princeton University’s Electrical Engineer PhD program, and I would like to know if your laboratory will have available positions for the fall of 2015.

I have had the chance to work with field effect nano-devices based on thin BSCCO layers. I have studied its Raman spectra and AFM vs. thickness dependence. Also I have studied their resistance vs. temperature dependence down to liquid helium temperatures. I worked in this project in a spring semester internship (spring of 2013) at Purdue University (under prof. Y. P. Chen’s guidance). During the spring of 2014 I worked on suspended, nitrogendoped, and platinum decorated graphene with the help of transmission electron microscopes and other electron microscopy techniques at McMaster University (prof. G Botton). At my home university I have worked in the fabrication of SPM tips for my undergrad thesis.

I have read your paper on the study of the FQHE with a filling factor of 1/2 (PRB 89, 165313, 2014). I am very interested in the study of condense matter systems and their quantum phenomena such as QHE and topological superconductivity. I have been exposed to the techniques of how to deal with 2-dimension materials and how to fabricate nanodevices based on exfoliated crystals and in my home university I have been exposed to SPM techniques (we are building one STM from scratch). In the group of prof. Burch, they have obtained a density of states spectra using a tunnel junction and AC differential conductance (Nature Communications 3, 1056, 2012). I think it would be a good idea to perform the AC differential conductance method and try to map the charge distribution of the 2DHSs and see if the behavior is single-layer or bi-layer like when the filling factor of the FQHE is 1/2. The heterostructure system would allow the fabrication of the tunnel junction.

Do you think it would be worthwhile to pursue these experiments in your laboratory?

Best regards,

xxxxxxxxxxxx (xxxxxxx@gmail.com)

 

  1. Interviews

Just one final step: interviews

Near the end of the application process I encounter two types of interviewers. One from the admission’s office (yet a faculty in the university). And, the other a professor that you contacted through e-mail.

The first type of interview will come from the admission’s office. The e-mail will contain information regarding who is going to interview you and the schedule.

The second type of interview will come directly from the faculty that you expressed interest in you Statement of Purpose.

After the interviews I realized that the one from the admission’s office was far more general than what I thought. One of the interviewers asked me to interview him instead of him interviewing me. The second and I just talked a lot about general Physics.

First, we will talk a little bit about the interview with a specific professor. Since you have expressed interest into working with him it makes sense for you to have tons of questions. In this specific case you need to prepare/familiarize a little more with the topic of the professor for the interview because, I believe, he will be gauging you.

To prepare yourself you need to know very well the person you will be interviewing with e.g. What is he famous for? Which is his most cited paper and why?

During the interview, most of the talk may lay upon the professor, but he will be willing to know about you too. We can recall some topics such as ‘goals for graduate studies’, ‘academic & research experiences’, and ‘your desire for graduate studies’.

During the interview with the admission’s office questions such as Why that school in specific? and Why that program in specific? will pop up. These are considered more general in terms of research, but, however, they are of equal importance.

A typical question that always seems to appear is the ‘strengths and weaknesses’. In your strengths you can name hard working, passionate, dedicated, but in the weaknesses be careful. Although the name is ‘weaknesses’ you will need to find a balance between a weaknesses and a strength. Maybe being workaholic, it is way more than sure that a professor may like that word; however, you can blend it with a little of bad things such as ‘work so hard until completion that forget to call friends’.

In the interview with the graduate committee you may be asked why you are interested in that specific program, and you will be required to mention the professors you are interested into and briefly their research.

  1. Further reading

[1] Demystifying the U.S. Graduate School Application Process. Luis Hernandez. REPU magazine.2013.

(https://attachment.fbsbx.com/file_download.php?id=575529479207417&eid=ASvXDFy1jN Z4lA4iod1_JoL8Z57MU2GxM6KSnuJWGc_BWbaFe7jAMnX5CfSqycj- _vY&inline=1&ext=1431366552&hash=ASt2jcb4dCN-i4du)

[2] What is like to be a tenured professor? Quora thread. Special remarks on Jay Wacker answer. (https://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-be-a-professor)

[3] How do I ghost-write myself a good letter of recommendation from my professor? I am applying on the academic job market. Quora thread. Special remarks on Jay Wacker answer. (https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-ghost-write-myself-a-good-letter-of-recommendationfrom-my-professor-I-am-applying-on-the-academic-job-market)

[4] Graduate Record Exam (GRE): What is the best way to prepare for the GRE? http://www.quora.com/Graduate-Record-Exam-GRE-2/What-is-the-best-way-to-prepare-forthe-GRE?srid=XfG5&share=1

[5] What is the best piece of advice given by people’s PhD supervisor? http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-piece-of-advice-given-by-peoples-PhDsupervisors?srid=XfG5&share=1

[6] HOWTO: Get into grad school for science, engineering, math, and computer science http://matt.might.net/articles/how-to-apply-and-get-in-to-graduate-school-in-sciencemathematics-engineering-or-computer-science/

[7] How do you compare pursuing a PhD in Europe vs a PhD in USA http://www.quora.com/How-do-you-compare-pursuing-a-PhD-in-Europe-vs-a-PhD-inUSA?srid=XfG5&share=1

[8] How do I judge professors while choosing an adviser, solely based on their research? https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-judge-professors-while-choosing-an-adviser-solely-basedon-their-research

[9] How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box” http://jamesclear.quora.com/How-to-be-More-Productive-and-EliminateTime-Wasting-Activities-by-Using-the-%E2%80%9CEisenhowerBox%E2%80%9D?srid=XfG5&share=1

 

Acknowledgements

 Acknowledgements

First, I would like to acknowledge Abel Alcazar the founder of the Research Experience for Peruvian Undergraduates (REPU), for if he had not founded the program you may not be reading this document – sometimes, it only takes the action of a person to keep things rolling Second, I would like to give special thanks to the actual directors of the REPU Sofia Espinoza and Kenji-Diaz for their labor of keep the REPU program growing.

Special thanks to the friends and family, for if their support has not existed we could not have made it ‘till this very end point.

Last but not least I would like to express my vast gratitude towards the nanoREPU branch; Luis Jauregui, Alfredo Tuesta, Alfredo Bobadilla, Edson Bellido, Jimmy Encomendero, and Keitel Cervantez. This guide was written because their knowledge fell into my mind. Thank you.

And for the reader, sorry for the typos .

Kevin Villegas Rosales 

 

Animarse y buscar oportunidades

Este material forma parte de la experiencia profesional de Kevin Villegas Rosales, a quien damos nuevamente las gracias. Los animamos a revisar cada capítulo, a investigar aquellos aspectos que sean de interés particular o de los que tengan dudas, sobre todo, los animamos a compartir esta Guía en las redes, con sus colegas, amigos y conocidos, que cada día un/a estudiante latino/a acceda a una nueva oportunidad de estudios, superación y progreso. ¡Y mucha suerte!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guía para aplicar a programas de Ph.D., en Estados Unidos

Estimamos de gran utilidad para nuestros lectores, compartir toda aquella información que sea de utilidad en el proceso de cursar estudios y/o especializaciones en países en el extranjero. En esta oportunidad, nos acompaña y apoya el ingeniero Kevin A. Villegas Rosales, quien ha elaborado una guía con todos los detalles y pasos que los/as profesionales interesados/as deben seguir, si desean cursar un Ph.D., en los Estados Unidos. La Guía, escrita totalmente en inglés, consta de 10 capítulos que serán compartidos en varias publicaciones. Esperamos que sea de mucho provecho para todos/as, y que se animen a promover su lectura, para que llegue a más profesionales con metas bien definidas de superación. A Kevin nuestro sincero agradecimiento.

Les dejamos con una breve reseña autobiográfica y los primeros tres capítulos de la “Guía para aplicar a programas de Ph.D. en Estados Unidos”. 

Sobre el autor

“Mi nombre es Kevin Villegas Rosales. Nací en Lima, Perú, y al decidir mi camino profesional, opté por estudiar en la Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, concretamente la carrera de Ingeniería Física. Recuerdo que, desde segundo año, me dediqué a recorrer e indagar en los laboratorios de la facultad. Por entonces, mi asesor y primer mentor fue el doctor Abel Gutarra.

Durante los años de estudios universitarios, realicé dos pasantías, la primera en Estados Unidos, en el laboratorio del profesor Yong P. Chen. La segunda pasantía la llevé a cabo en el laboratorio del profesor Gianluigi Botton, en Canadá.

40567209_893824297489699_2819826122097688576_n

A finales del 2015,  comencé mi PhD en la Facultad de Ingeniería Electrónica de la Universidad de Princeton. Mi trabajo de investigación está relacionado con el comportamiento de los electrones a muy bajas temperaturas y grandes campos magnéticos”.


Guía para aplicar a programas de Ph.D. en Estados Unidos”

Kevin A. Villegas Rosales

I am not an individual, 

but the collective effort of the people that believed in me.

Introduction: What I wish I knew when I was a Freshman

This guide is a compilation of the knowledge that I gathered when I applied to graduate school in the fall of 2015. I wish that this guide spreads widely and not only to the REPU community. Indeed, I hope it brings light to the so dark question of how do I get into a graduate program?

 I would like to begin with a note about English. As you may have noticed I chose to write this document in English, even though it is not my native language. Nevertheless, it seems to be the native language of science. It is ubiquitous. As a matter of fact, English is part of the game. To those that are not versed in English, I hope you can find your way through this guide – maybe to even use it as an initial motivation to get better at it.

Now, I want to introduce one part of myself. I am an applied physics major (ingenierio fisico) and I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in an electrical engineer program – nonetheless, my research focuses in fundamental physics. Having said that, this guide will mainly shed light to science and engineer majors. For those of you who are not in the sciences/engineering, extrapolate ideas from this document to achieve what you want.

Luis Jauregui suggested to me to write a document of all the information of the process. Fortunately, he knew better than I do, so I poured thousands of words in the first draft right after the end of my application process.

Now, it is hard to reach out to everybody – to help to everybody. To alleviate that, I want to handle this guide to you because I might not be able to reach out to you in person, but I do want everyone to have the same opportunities, or at least to some extent a similarity of what I had.

In the title I put What I wish I had knew when I was a Freshman (first year of undergraduate) and I mean it, so here it goes. You do not need to get your professional degree (el titulo) to pursue a master’s or a Ph.D., period. It is enough to get your baccalaureate, meaning you just need to fulfill all your courses requirements. Ph.D.’s in the sciences/engineering are funded, which means that you will get a stipend for your living expenses and the tuition will be paid by your professors’ grants as a research assistant or from a teaching assistantship. So, they pay you to pursue a higher education. In a nutshell, if you decided to pursue a graduate degree you will very likely get paid to live abroad, meet people from all over the world. Yet, there is a very strong caveat you will need to learn how to do research.

Let me go back to the caveat. A few weeks ago, I learned that you don’t call a Physicist a person who studied physics for their undergraduate, you call them physics majors. Indeed, it is great that you have learned a lot of textbook physics and the math that you need to understand it, however you haven’t learned how to do physics. Only after you earn your Ph.D. in physics we would call you a Physicist. Well, yes, I only wrote about physics because is what I do, but you just change that word for what ever major you do (it does not apply for engineer, I think).

The end of the beginning:  if I did it, for sure you can do it too. My intentions with this paragraph are to unveil any sort of myth, I am not more special that what you are.  When I was admitted to UNI (applied physics program) I had no idea that I would end up in a graduate program. Indeed, back in high school I did not know that I was going to study applied physics. To dig even further, I didn’t know that UNI or science majors existed until my senior year in high school. To make things more ironic I did not learn kinematics until that senior high school year, hence, ‘la pre’ was hard. My admission ranking was 61 when only 60 people was supposed to be admitted in that entrance examination – I tied the 60th place with a three digits grade. I was admitted to my fifth option out of five – apparently to the carrier that I wanted to pursue the least. I failed my first formal-physics mid-term and barely passed the final exam .

The same professor who gave me a hard time in that first class return to blow me off two years later by grading my mid-term with 04/20 and gave a 20/20 to the other Kevin of the class. Research internships rejected me from left to right, but I needed only one to accept me and that is how things started rolling. With the help of great people, I am here writing to you and I really want to pass along the message that if I did it¸ for sure you can do it too.

  1. The school of your dreams: graduate admissions

The first step is to know to which schools you want to apply to. To search schools that are your preferences could take several weeks. So if you are  still taking classes I would recommend to you to begin several months in advance before December (I started in August – the whole process).

It is a good idea to know why you would like to apply to a school – it increases your chances of a happy graduate period once you are inside. For example, it is easy and tempting to look at school rankings and choose by finger the very top ones. But, there are important considerations to weight in.

  • One consideration is the research topic. For example, you want to pursue spintronics during your Ph.D. and you pick University of Michigan from the ranking. Nevertheless, there are no professors working in spintronics there. In that case you should discard University of Michigan from your list; even though, it might be the most ranked school in USA. You need to find a match between your interests and what the school can offer to you. (this is a fictitious example)
  • A second consideration is the faculty. My seniors recommended to me to choose a school that has at least 3 faculty that interested me – now, I have to agree with it. Before you get to the place and meet the groups/faculty and environment/research lines you have limited information to decide about your adviser. So, if your most desired option goes wrong, you still have more people among who you can pick up an adviser.

I consider the two academic-reasons above the most relevant to pick up a school. Nevertheless, there are other factors to take into consideration.

  • Ranking – I believe it is a valid desire.
  • Size of the research groups. Some schools tend to have 20 to 30 people working under the same advisor, but there are other schools that have around 5 to 10 people in the research groups. Usually, the first group has a correlation with hands-off adviser, and the latter group with a more hands-on adviser.
  • And, last but not least the location of the school. You will spend at least 5 years in a graduate program, so the location is very important – weather, attractions, etc.

Now, to look for a specific graduate program through the internet.

As an example, I picked the Electrical Engineer and Computer Science program of Purdue University.

In a search engine type: ‘electrical engineering graduate program Purdue University’, see Figure 1a. Electrical engineering are the words that will lead you to a specific degree, graduate program is to specify that you are looking for a masters or a Ph.D. program, and Purdue University is to specify which university you are interested into. You can change these combinations of words to fit your own case.

Pick the first link (red box, Fig. 1a). The website of the Electrical and Computer Engineering of Purdue University will pop-up, see Figure 1b. When you are interested into applying to a graduate program you are catalogued as a prospective student (red box, Fig. 1b).

In Figure 1c, the new window displays two branches of options, one for the undergraduates and the other for graduate students. You will choose the one for graduate students.

In Figure 1d, the new window displays many links that are related to the application. The links range from the deadlines, FAQs, and the online application itself. It is this windows where you will look down all the information that you will need for a successful application.

The application is online. You will be required to upload all your documents, yet some schools still require a physical copy of your transcripts. Letter of recommendations are also managed through the internet. When you complete the questionnaire, you will have to submit your application and pay a fee. The fee is due to pay only when you are about to submit your information, not before. Which means that you can slowly fill in information at your own pace.

Please generalized these previous paragraph to any graduate program of your interest. It may even work for schools around the world as well.

  1. Looking for the school you want to apply to

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Figure 1a.  Google search.

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Figure 1b.  Inside of the graduate program website

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Figure 1c.  Inside of the prospective students’ website

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Figure 1d.  Inside of the applying to Purdue website

  1. The school of your dreams: the application check-list

After you picked about 10 schools that you are interested in it is time to gather what these different schools require from you. For example, the most important information is the application deadline. Many schools, in USA, have 15th of December as the deadline. Nevertheless, there are many others that have deadlines at the beginning of December or at the beginning of January. I used Google’s spreadsheet to harvest the information.

I want to suggest you a very simple rule – apply at least to 10 graduate programs. The upper cap of admission rate is around 5 % or less at each school. Depending on the school and your application profile that probability varies. It is just simple probabilities, isn’t? The larger the number of programs that you apply to, the better.

The first part of the spreadsheet, will contain the information that appear at Figure 2a. The application website is important because you will be entering many times to it during the whole process e.g. to fill the questionnaire, check out requirements, etc. On the other hand, the deadline is to remind yourself where you are in the application process.

The section Require is important to keep a record of the things you must gather to complete the application form. And more important is the Criteria. Why? Because it is the metric of what previous admitted applicants had in average – this is your minimum requirements.

Another simple rule – your profile has to be above the average scores/grades that the university offers as their previous records. For example, let’s consider that in a certain school the average GRE math score is 166, then at least you need to score that to be considered in the review application.

A perfect score in the standardized tests (GRE, TOEFL) won’t grant you the admission, however, be on the top of the applicants-pile. What I mean is to get the best possiblescore, so that your application doesn’t get any scrutiny before getting to the letters. Another rule – aim for a perfect score in the math GRE and above 100 in the TOEFL. The math GRE is just high-school math, and to get a 100 in the TOEFL you just need to get to know the test well. I took the GRE math twice to increase my score and went through the admission with a 167 (just one mistake in the test). One more time, be in the top of the pile of 500+ applicants with your standardized test – it will guarantee you that the admission committee will review your letters. Do not aim for less, it is a must.

The second part of the spreadsheet is related to the faculty of your interest, see Figure 2. You need to pick up at least three professors, mainly because their work aligns well with your interests. To get to know the faculty you can note down some publications that caught your attention – it will be useful as well when you are about to write the post-application e-mail (section 8).

  1. Getting all the info for the school application  

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Figure 2b.  Second part of the excel-like sheet.

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  1. Get ready for GRE, GRE subject, and TOELF

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are mandatory requirements for the application. In some cases, the GRE Subject can be required too.

The GRE subject can be a test of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, Psychology, History, etc. and they are required for a specific department e.g. the Physics, Chemistry department, etc. Furthermore, engineer departments do not require the GRE Subject test.

First, the TOEFL. It aims to measure your proficiency in English. It is taken by foreigners whose native language is not English. The test consist of four sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Each section conveys a maximum score of 30 points.

Some graduate programs requirement a minimum TOEFL score for the application to be reviewed. They do warn you that if your TOEFL score is under their cut-off, to not apply.

For example, EECS MIT program requires a minimum score of a 100. Browsing through different program’s websites I realized that a 100 is the maximum cap that different admission’s offices requires. Besides a total score, some offices require specific scores in specific sections.

Let’s see an example. The TOEFL minimum score of the electrical engineer program at Purdue University is 77. The website also specifies that a minimum of 22 for the writing section and 23 for the speaking section. The wrote that the latter will be used toward the consideration of a teaching assistantship. Princeton University does not ask for a minimum total score, but a minimum score of 28 in the speaking section must be achieved, otherwise, the upcoming admitted student must take an English Placement Test.

In regards of how early you need to take the TOEFL. After you take the test, one week and a half later the results will be send to you through e-mail. Approximately, 2 weeks after you received the e-mail the test scores will be received at each designated school. So, in the most treacherous situation you can consider taking the TOEFL maximum 1 month ahead from the final deadline. In some cases, some programs allow the scores to arrive later than the deadline but this is not a rule of thumb. I recall that I started studying early in August and took the test a month and a half later – practicing daily, indeed.

After you take the TOEFL, your scores have a validity of up to two years. That means that you do not need to take the exam right before the deadlines.

Once you register for the TOEFL (http://www.ets.org/es/toefl) you will be granted the chance to send your scores to 4 schools for free – well you paid for the test already, isn’t? If you want to send more scores, each school is 15 dollars extra.

Regarding preparation, there is an electronic folder that circulates among the REPU community with a large amount of resources for test-taking. This folder contains past tests, books, reviews, etc. Besides digging into this electronic folder I subscribed to an online service – Magoosh, I quite recommend it, www.magoosh.com. I self-studied for the test but there are many English private schools (ICPNA, IC, etc.) that offer test-prep courses.

I will give you a personal recommendation. I would suggest to you to pick up a book diligently (I used The Complete Guide to the TOEFL Test iBT Edition – Bruce Rogers because it is a pretty straight forward practice book) and go through it at least once, doing all the given exercises; during this period of easy practice you should couple it with the Magoosh blog of the TOEFL section – tons of great tips there (videos, posts, etc.). A month before your schedule test you should aim to practice 1 full test per day; you need to gain stamina

I found that most graduate programs do not mention a cut-off for your GRE scores. But they do post online the mean- score of their previous years admitted students.

The electrical engineer program at Purdue University gives this information: ‘Average scores for admitted students in previous semesters are approximately: 152 (Verbal), 166 (Quantitative), 3.6 (Analytical Writing)’. Also, SEAS Harvard programs ‘For enrolled students across all Ph.D. and master’s programs, average undergraduate GPAs were over 3.7 (on a 4.0 scale), average GRE quantitative scores were within 90-95th percentiles (167+), and average GRE verbal scores were within the 80-85th percentiles (158+)’.

It is a must to be at least inside the window of average past scores. So, any prospective student willing to be consider seriously should strive to obtain those GRE scores.

The GRE scores are different from the TOEFL. At the end of the test you will your quantitative and verbal raw scores. The percentiles as well as the writing scores will be sent to you via e-mail. It takes around 2 weeks until you get your scores, and another 2 weeks until they arrive to the specified school.

I felt that the preparation for the GRE is tougher than the TOEFL, specifically the verbal section. In the folder that contains prep material for the TOEFL you will find for the GRE as well. I also decided to study by myself for the GRE and I coupled the prep material with the course from Magoosh, www.magoosh.com.

Before, I mentioned that the quantitative section of the GRE is just high school math. For engineer/science students it tend to be easier, however to ace the test you need to get speed and be familiar with the type of problems – so do not set the practice for the quantitative section aside. In the verbal section memorization of words will help you in the multiple choice questions to give you some extra time in the long paragraphs. A good start to memorize words would be to go through a deck of flashcards (52 words) each morning and re-practice it in the night. Finally, the GRE writing section is much more difficult than the TOEFL one, it goes beyond the simple layout of the 5-paragrpah text. You will find a lot of details in Magoosh.

Analogue to the GRE, your test scores of the GRE subject should be inside the window of the past admitted students of the program of your interest. I remember that I found that most Physics departments had an average of 95th percentile for the GER subject. In that specific case I would suggest you apply to that specific program only if you achieve the 95th percentile. I believe if that minimum requirement is not completed probably your application will be tossed away. Even though is a standardized test it proves that you know the basics. Now you are competing against the world, so the stakes are high.

I believe that the preparation for a GRE subject test may require several months of preparation, unless you were able to keep proficiency through all the subjects along college. The test covers all your college education. For the preparation you should practice with the previous GRE subjects test posted at the ETS website, but there exist other resources specific for each subject on the internet.

The GRE Subject went out of my hands. It was my last semester at UNI and I was taking 4 courses, which I didn’t pay too much attention to. I was also preparing myself for the TOEFL and the GRE. So, what ended up happening is that I kept pushing back the preparation for the GRE Subject – I just couldn’t find any more hours in a day. I believe I studied a month earlier skimming through all my college education. I didn’t do well, I scored 67th percentile. Fortunately, I had somebody to guide me. I shifted my applications to Physics departments to Electrical Engineer departments (that do not require a GRE Subject) and it all went well. I do believe that if I had applied with that low Subject score my application wouldn’t have been considered seriously. If I had had 90th+ percentile I would have consider applying else I strongly suggest you to not apply, yet or just aim for another department.