Why IU?

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Image courtesy of ampathkenya.org

AMPATH is one of the main reasons that I chose a doctoral program in Epidemiology at IU.  AMPATH, the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare, was established in 2001 as a partnership between Indiana University School of Medicine, Moi University School of Medicine, and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH). Continue reading

Collaborating across disciplines … be helpful without discrimination!

Always reach out with open arms! It is important in academia that you do not get stuck within your bubble.  The world does not work that way, so why should we?  Interdisciplinary studies and research is critical now more than ever as our world becomes more globalized and disciplines overlap to help solve society’s challenges.

As an academic, your success will be determined on how well you can be creative and innovative with your resources as higher education funding becomes more difficult to come by.  As a result, more collaboration and cooperation across departments and disciplines will not only enhance your own overall knowledge of your subject area but also show your ability work with others.

Here’s an example: my research concentration is in higher education policy, specifically in governance, funding, ethics, and diversity.  Although I am an education policy studies student, I collaborate with higher education and student affairs (HESA), informatics, and public health masters and doctorate students.  This kind of collaboration allows me to learn about other areas of academic interest that touches my area of research.

I encourage you to begin working outside of the box and collaborate with others.  Not only will it be helpful in your academic career but also your professional work.  It’s always good to be open, helpful, and embracing of others!

What to do while you wait

Hey friends… the new year is off and running. And I have some advice for you. By now  you should’ve submitted your application to graduate school (hopefully Indiana University made the cut), now you have all of this free time. You’re probably asking yourself “Self… what am I going to do with all of this free time?” Well that is a good question to ask yourself. I probably wouldn’t do it out loud in public. That is a good way to make people think you’re a little crazy.

The FTOD for you folks in admissions limbo is to stay busy, and stay in contact with the institutions you are interested. Next month we will talk about college visits so I won’t go into detail here. But one simple thing you can do is begin planning visits to your top choices. Something else you can do is continue to research the institution, and the surrounding town. Visit the city’s visitor bureau website, generally  these websites can give you an idea of what city life is about. Finally I’d recommend that you keep talking to people at the institution you learn so much just by asking the same question to a lot of people (i.e. what is this institution like, etc). So go forth and be busy.

Publishing … an important component of academia!

So holiday break brought some good news … an article I worked with a professor on will be published in the Education Law Reporter. An important aspect of academia is to research, write, and publish.  Some tips to accomplish these goals are:

1. Find good mentors who know the system well and can guide you through them

2. Collaborate with faculty members and other graduate students.  Find where your strengths can compliment theirs.

3. Work together and keep each other accountable.  Working with others help you keep yourself accountable and on track to achieve a goal.

4. Research and write on topics that interest you. This is a long process and if you are not interested in the work you are doing, it will become a task not a pleasure!

5. And last but not least … have fun!  Write about interesting and current topics, but also collaborate with fun colleagues!  You can learn so much from each other but also have so much fun!

Good luck!  Research … and write!

Grades and Grad School Applications

As an emissary for IU, I’ve had the chance to talk to a lot of students who are going through the application process for graduate school. One question which almost always comes up is, “How much do grades and GRE scores matter?” This can be a tricky question – it often depends on the individual student and the program they are applying to. I’ll share my perspective, but if you are worried about your numbers you should also talk to people at the institutions you are applying to.

If you don’t have high test scores, don’t despair. Grad school applications aren’t just about GREs and GPAs.

Graduate programs care about grades and test scores, but they also care about recruiting students who are dedicated, determined, and who have well-defined research interests. In my opinion, not many programs will take on a student who doesn’t know what they want to do in grad school, no matter how good that person’s grades are. On the other hand, they might be willing to take on a student whose grades and test scores are somewhat low, provided that they have the personal drive and direction that are needed to get through grad school.

A friend of mine was accepted to IU (with funding) in spite of her low GPA, because she was able to prove her worth in other ways. After completing her undergraduate degree, she strengthened her resume through work and research experience. She didn’t apply to graduate school right away, but she used her time wisely. Eventually, she developed a rapport with professors within the department she would later apply to. When she did apply, she had contacts within the university to vouch for her, as well as important experiences which made her application strong.

Gaining research experience is an excellent way to strengthen your application and show you are dedicated to furthering your education.

While some departments might prove stubborn about their minimum test score and GPA numbers, I think you will find that many departments are flexible, especially if your application shows your ability in other ways. So if your scores are not quite what you wish they were, don’t lose hope! You may have to work a little harder to prove yourself, but it certainly can be done.

United State Particle Accelerator School

For the past four years, I’ve had a unique and worthwhile opportunity attending and helping the United States Particle Accelerator School (USPAS) which provides graduate-level educational programs in the physics of particle beams and relevant accelerator technologies. The goal is to provide training for future scientist, researchers, and engineers by current leaders and prominent researchers in the field.

USPAS is governed and funded by an 11-member consortium comprised of seven national laboratories of the Office of Science of the Department of Energy, two national laboratories of the National Nuclear Security Agency of DOE, and two National Science Foundation university laboratories. The member institutions are as follows:

  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Cornell’s Laboratory for Nuclear Studies
  • Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Michigan State University
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

The two-week USPAS is held twice a year at a different host institution each time. I have personally attended USPAS hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Old Dominion University, University of Texas at Austin, and Michigan State University. The experiences I’ve gained at the accelerator school I have applied directly to my research and the support network that I’ve establish there I will carry with me the rest of my career. For those of you who are interested in particle accelerators, beam physics, and accelerator technology should visit the USPAS website for more information. They also provide scholarships for those who demonstrate merit and exceptional progress in the field.

For those of you who are not in the field of accelerator and beam physics, do keep an eye out for similar workshops and courses offered in your field as they will be invaluable in your growth as an aspiring scholar. I’ll keep you all updated with photos on the next USPAS that I will be attending at Duke University. Have a wonderful Christmas!