Graduate Archives

In thinking about grad school...Part I

I finally had a conversation with my PI about graduate school and how I should approach it. I was becoming antsy about this topic because I had so many ideas or so many interests that I didn't know where to start looking. I have looked at some people and their research interests, but I haven't read their papers. Yet I wasn't entirely satisfied with where and what lab/program I should be looking at.

So my conversation went in a roundabout way, starting from my interests in applying for some fellowships/scholarships in the UK. But we finally got to the main point, which was, basically, where do I start looking? I love getting lots of people's perspectives; some people start with reading papers and looking at what universities those people are associated with. Others look for a good general program. My previous PI gave me some names, some that resonated with me, some that took some time for me to warm up to. I guess in the end, I'm just really picky, and a bit selective.

continue reading "In thinking about grad school...Part I" »

Irene Liao
posted September 21, 2010 4:20 PM

From ES to Oxford

Hello interested blog readers. I was asked to give a quick profile of what I've done since graduating.


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Josh Fisher
posted June 9, 2009 11:46 AM

1/2 a year down!...and about 7 1/2 more to go

Happy new year bloggers! What an awesome game yesterday at the Emerald Bowl.

It's hard to believe, but half a year of medical school has already flown by. And it's been busy. I've never had to study such a large volume of material at one time, and occasionally it has been overwhelming. On the other hand, come exam time, the course material actually starts becoming more cohesive and making sense, and that's when all the hours of studying really pay off.

There really isn't a typical day for a medical student, especially not at Keck, where classes are scheduled differently every single week. For the past few months, we have been covering the "Core" curriculum, which is a (very) broad survey of different topics aimed at placing everyone on the same page. Starting in the spring, we will be moving on to a "systems" curriculum, where we will study dermatology, cardio, neuro, and musculoskeletal individually. Hopefully, that will make the material more cohesive than Core.

What I love most about about med school is the clinical experience we have from day one. Even as complete newbies, we get to meet with patients in LAC+USC Hospital and take histories. Unlike residents and nurses--whose schedules are overloaded and overbooked--we have more time to find out about our patients' experiences and lives. Many patients also welcome med students to the bedside because they enjoy playing a part in educating future doctors. Being able to interact with patients helps me keep in mind the reasons why I decided to go into medicine, reasons which are sometimes difficult to keep sight of when med students are so busy.

I have also been looking at starting research again and have been meeting on and off with a faculty member performing research on gut bacteria over at Caltech. Hopefully I'll find time to become more involved with that. More updates to come. Good luck with the spring semester bloggers and GO BEARS!

Alex Lau
posted January 2, 2009 11:31 AM

37 years at Cal and Still Chasing Bugs

Most of my youth was spent is Minneapolis, Minnesota. However, I also have roots in California; my mother was born in Los Angeles. I remember those long train rides back and forth during summer to visit grand parents. Yes, I spent many summers in Fresno, and winters in Minneapolis. Now you can appreciate why I live in the Bay Area, great weather!

In 1968, a high school counselor in Minneapolis told me I was not good enough to go to college. Never being one to blindly accept a single opinion, I asked what was the best university in the country. I was told Berkeley! I had no idea where Berkeley was, but defiantly said, “I will go there.”

continue reading "37 years at Cal and Still Chasing Bugs" »

Vernard Lewis
posted October 22, 2008 3:25 PM

work this past summer


Hey blog readers! Before I jump into describing my first few weeks of medical school, I wanted to share with you guys my experiences this past summer as a faculty advisor with the National Youth Leadership Forum program at UCLA. I spent June through August with three separate groups of 22-23 high school students, all of whom were attending a program designed to expose them to the field of medicine.

I had a whole classroom-sized group of high schoolers to be responsible for at all times! Pretty challenging for a soft-spoken recent college grad. My job entailed three basic duties: 1) teach a curriculum that would introduce many key concepts and processes that are integral to medical education and the profession itself (i.e. med school admissions, traits and character, ethics), 2) supervise and chaperone students to different site visits and 3) manage and discipline students when necessary. This was how my room looked like at the end of every forum:


Yes, that's a lot of bleached flipchart paper. Don't worry, it was all recycled.


Believe it or not, I had a blast with this job. It was very rewarding working with high schoolers. Though there were times when I wondered what the heck I got myself into, it was great to get a glimpse of what the next generation of teenagers think, feel, and value. I worked with a diverse set of students--each with different backgrounds and beliefs--who broadened my perspectives on just how mixed our country really is. I also had a lot of fun with my co-workers.,,


For any college grads with a free summer, I'd highly recommend this program. It requires a college degree, lots of energy, and a willingness to work with super-hyper high school students. Check it out!

Alex Lau
posted September 2, 2008 9:46 PM

Summer Time

In a sense, you can say that I've "graduated." The only thing that's holding me back are two classes over the summer that I'm currently taking to finish my major. I'm really excited to get my degree in Molecular Toxicology, but also sad that I'm going to have to leave CAL which is weird because I'm usually not a sentimental person. The feeling struck me as I was walking towards the Mulford area. It's surreal to think that I have only two months left of summer school before I head out to Sacramento for my gap year. I'm going to miss all the labs and great professors who really helped me understand the area of Toxicology. After CAL, I plan to further my education by either going to public health or medical school (where ever God leads me) to pursue my interest in Maternal and Child health. However, I'm going to take a year off to unwind and work on my applications. I'll be sure to post updates so stay tuned.

Rebekah Kim
posted June 26, 2008 1:18 AM

Life after a degree

A bachelor's in Genetics & Plant Biology. That's what I walked with May 2008.
What do I plan to do with it?
Continue my education.

With one requirement to complete before truly graduating, I'll return to Berkeley for the summer, before moving on to Miami University to begin a Master's program in Botany.

What kind of an education did my Berkeley degree provide me with?
An understanding of: plant genetics, plant physiology, plant cell biology, plant taxonomy, plant systematics, plant identification, light microscopy techniques, bioinformatics, molecular genetics, and probably more. Along with this, I gained field experience, lab experience, and a renewed confidence in myself. I learned to study until I could understand concepts that often seemed beyond my abilities. I also found the benefit of group study including how to effectively organize study sessions, and how to work alongside a diverse peer environment.

Sure, these skills will be of benefit in future academic pursuits - but they'll also come in handy in everyday life. You'll see.

posted June 17, 2008 6:04 PM