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Thinking About Graduate School in Biology: Our Tips for Success

By Catherine Early1, Adania Flemming2, Jeanette Pirlo3, Sorilis Ruiz-Escobar4

1. Science Museum of Minnesota 2. iDigBio, FLMNH 3. University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History 4. University of Florida/ Florida Museum

As part of the iDigTrio 2020 Biological Conference and Fair we created this document to supplement our workshop on "Applying for Graduate school". This is a compilation drawing from the four author's lived experiences.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group iDigBio

Version 1.0 - published on 25 Feb 2021 doi:10.25334/QKVY-DS19 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms



As part of the iDigTrio 2020 Biological Conference and Fair we created this document to supplement our workshop on "Applying for Graduate school". This is a compilation drawing from the four author's lived experiences. 


What to start thinking about as an undergraduate                                                                           4

Preparing for life as a graduate student                                                                                     4

Finding an undergraduate research lab                                                                                     4

Get to know professors you admire and get along with                                                             4

Decide if you need a graduate degree                                                                                       4

How to Identify and Contact a Potential Graduate School Advisor (Primary Investigator, PI)       5

Step 1: Research Interest                                                                                                          5

Step 2: Potential PI Research Interests                                                                                     5

Step 3: Reaching out to Potential PIs                                                                                        5

Step 4: Visiting Potential PIs and Programs                                                                              6

Picking the right program                                                                                                                 7

Questions for Grad Students                                                                                                      7

about the student                                                                                                                  7

about the lab/PI                                                                                                                    7

about the program/department/university                                                                            7

about funding                                                                                                                        8

about the location                                                                                                                 8

Questions for Potential Advisors                                                                                                8

about the lab                                                                                                                         8

about funding                                                                                                                        8

Example Email to Contact Potential PI                                                                                            9

Video Calls with Potential PIs                                                                                                        10

Things to consider/do before meeting with PI:                                                                         10

Questions to ask during your video call:                                                                                  10

How will I fund my graduate degree?                                                                                             11

Funding Opportunities for Graduate Students                                                                         12

Not Institution Based                                                                                                                12

Institution Based                                                                                                                       12

NSF GRFP                                                                                                                                     13

What is it?                                                                                                                                 13

Who can apply?                                                                                                                        13

How do I apply?                                                                                                                        13

How is the application reviewed?                                                                                             14

How can I improve my chances?                                                                                             14

What are the expectations of the Fellows?                                                                              15

Additional resources:                                                                                                                      16

Authors contact information:                                                                                                      16



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