Whether you’ve already made up your mind to apply or are in the consideration stage, chances are you have some questions or may even feel like you are on an island, wondering should or why did I.
We understand. Years of speaking to students have taught us that sometimes our minds are the most significant battle in deciding to attend or getting through grad school. And chances are, if you’re considering grad school, you’re probably a reader. So, we’ve decided to give you some options for your holiday gift list this year.
Our first recommendation is bound to have you laughing and grateful that you made the purchase. While published in 2004, it’s still considered a must-read for grad students. According to the description, Playing the Game: The Streetsmart Guide to Graduate School simplifies even the most complex aspects of grad school.
“Authors Frank and Stein have broken down Playing The Game into three hilarious and straightforward sections. In whatever stage of graduate school you find yourself, rest assured that you will never again grumble, “If only I had known!”
We think that sounds like practical advice, and who can’t use a laugh these days!
We know you will be writing a lot in grad school, so getting some help is always good. According to several studies writing apprehension is a very real thing. Our second recommendation, How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing (2018 New Edition) Second Edition by Paul Silvia, seems to make a lot of must-have book lists for grad students.
“How to Write a Lot covers bad habits, common excuses, and practical strategies to help students, researchers, and professors become more prolific writers.”
We don’t need a study to know that writing assignments are often delayed to the last moment. Whether in grad school or not, this book sounds like it would help. No more excuses!!
Our final recommendation goes beyond pleasure reading (humor) and writing and tackles that fear that (for many) is greater than death itself. Yes, you guessed it – group presentations!!
Whether you plan to teach or not, most graduate students will find themselves presenting at some point along the way. Teaching College: The Ultimate Guide to Lecturing, Presenting, and Engaging Students, by Norman Eng, is a must-have.
We love the fact that Teaching College is described as,
“an approachable blueprint for learning the necessary graduate school skills of presenting, lecturing, teaching, and engaging.”
Those are skills we can all use along the way regardless of what path we walk down.
If you haven’t decided to apply yet, that’s ok – these books will give you some fun (and practical) advice and motivate you to go after your dreams. And, if you have applied, consider them part of your arsenal for success.
Graduate school isn’t for everyone, but no doubt, differentiating yourself in the job market is becoming increasingly important. Whether you are doing it for personal reasons or because it’s required in the field you’ve chosen, many have walked the path before you. These authors are just a few.
Ready to apply? We’re here to help.(more…)
Exactly three years ago, my new friends and I made a promise to each other. My new friend Fiona was told by my new friend Bubba that he had been Shrek the ogre the previous year. At more than six feet tall and shoulders as wide as a doorframe, he fit the character well. “Shrek and Fiona! We gotta do it!” he decided within two minutes of learning Fiona’s name.
The group that was there to hear Bubba’s insistence never forgot it, and at the beginning of our senior year, my friend group decided we couldn’t let freshman-year Bubba down. Fiona got her costume ready, my five-foot self was told, not asked, to be Lord Farquaad, my other roommates got ears and a hat for Donkey and Puss in Boots, and their boyfriends were forced to be Gingey and Dragon.
We had our plan set to dress up as characters from Shrek on what Juniata dubs “Halloweekend”, the weekend before Halloween. First though, I had to be again reminded that I had somehow been at Juniata for more than three years.
October 30th was Senior Day for the Juniata Women’s Soccer team. Before our last game of the season, we had a small ceremony before the game. I walked with my parents through a tunnel of my teammates, received flowers and a framed plaque of my previous Juniata jersey, and heard my four-year stats and kind words from my teammates over the loudspeaker. I was met with fun decorations as I walked into our team locker room. Four tables filled with food met me after our game was done. Handmade scrapbook pages of funny memories and encouraging words were ribboned together in my locker. I felt a lot of love from my teammates and their families, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had grown three years older and wiser without my own permission. I cried a few tears but left our home field very full and very happy with arms full of gifts. I’ll be a mess after next semester’s lacrosse senior day, but I also imagine I will be happy looking back on my four year journey at Juniata, within athletics and outside of them.
My friends and I have come a long way from our freshman selves, but I am so glad we’ve been able to keep our freshman year promises. We are finishing seasons, completing high-level research, reflecting on internships or studies abroad in real-world job interviews, telling new students about that time we had that professor and got that grade, and all other sorts of things we had promised ourselves we would get through but didn’t quite know we would. Senior year forces us to think a lot about the future, but there’s nothing wrong with reflecting on how far you’ve come and how old you may have gotten.
A report released this month by Allied Market Research starts with the quote, “The surge in demand for clinical diagnostics and personalized medicines play a major role in the growth of the bioinformatics market.”
This optimism is echoed throughout a September Global newswire release that states, “The Worldwide Bioinformatics Industry is Expected to Reach $21.8 Billion by 2026.”
Keeping that in mind, Bioinformatics degrees are a hot topic of conversation among potential graduate students. Coupled with the fact that the United States is poised to lead that growth, college campuses around the country are ramping up their bioinformatics program(s). There is no doubt that COVID-19 led to bioinformatics as a term becoming more of a household name, especially as (subjects around) clinical diagnostics are now prime-time news. Moreover, with more manufacturing companies entering the medical field, hiring for innovation in bioinformatics continues to surge.
Juniata’s well-known strengths in biology, computer science, and data science are leveraged not only by the faculty facilitating the bioinformatics program but also by the students enrolled in the program. Thus, opportunities for relevant course enrollment exist, and the ability to mine knowledge and resources from these related disciplines makes for a rich and engaging experience.
At Juniata, we are focusing on creating an environment that fosters a growing number of internship and employment opportunities with local biotechnology and bioinformatics companies for those that enter this program. This allows us to both create and maintain an innovative approach to learning. It also provides our students with sought-after opportunities.
Jason Moran, Vice President for Enrollment, shares, “One of the most exciting things about being part of our Graduate Programs is innovation. Graduate programs allow students to engage in education that is part of what is happening now. In a way, it is like being a part of history. In bioinformatics, our graduate students are learning and participating in things that are changing the world. That is important.”
We encourage potential graduate students to have one-on-one conversations with the program directors and counselors before picking your school. The people matter in your selection process; those relationships with companies and professors that are part of this surge may make all the difference. Next, look for schools where innovation drives their bioinformatics program. The need for bioinformatics (professionals) is here to stay, so those differentiators will matter when it comes to being hired. Finally, look to build up your resume as you learn. We believe we can help with that.
For more information on Juniata College Graduate Programs and our Bioinformatics Degree, go to https://www.juniata.edu/academics/graduate-programs/bioinformatics.php.
Every year at Juniata, my friends and I like to search town for fun activities to do near campus. Even in my senior year, we’re still finding new places to fill up our weekends.
Some of our favorite locations include a classic trip to Raystown. Sometimes we go down to the Seven Points Marina, where we have Mountain Day every year. It’s fun to enjoy our own little mountain day, but once it gets colder and the leaves start changing, it’s still fun to go hiking and take in all the sights.
You can also go up to Hawn’s overlook, which not only overlooks the dam at Raystown, but provides beautiful views at any time of the year! It’s just a short, flat trip down a trail from the parking lot, and it not hard to get to. It’s a nice place to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.
Another place my friends and I love to go to is further down the lake, called Trough Creek State Park. This state park is beautiful, with a lot of trails and breathtaking views. My friends and I try to visit here as often as possible, and I think that’s because this place provides some of the best scenery that central Pennsylvania has to offer. There is a wide range of trails to choose from, as well as picnic tables to enjoy a nice lunch in the sun.
For people who really enjoy hiking, the Thousand Steps is another good place to visit for nature lovers. I remember being very shocked to find out that it is actually 1000 steps, but if you can make it to the top, you won’t regret it. The views are just too good.
If you’re looking to get into the Halloween season, there are other, more seasonal attractions, such as making the trip down to the Lincoln Caverns for their annual Ghosts and Goblins tour, which features a tour of the caves, which have been decorated to resemble a haunted house. It also features a ride through the surrounding woods on a wagon. It’s a great way to explore what the area has to offer while enjoying the spooky season!
Overall, there are a lot of fun outdoor activities to do in Huntingdon and the surrounding area. If you’re into hiking or nature, there are a lot of places to explore, not just the ones I named here. I haven’t even begun to name all of the outdoor attractions that are available, but I have named some of my favorites. My friends and I often find ourselves scrambling to try everything new that we’ve discovered while also making time to visit some of our favorite places.
No matter what you choose to explore, there is always an activity that allows you to enjoy the beautiful autumn days in central Pennsylvania. Make sure to take advantage of our perfect placement in the middle of the outdoors!
Summer Research in Physics
Before coming to Juniata, I hadn’t thought I would or could do physics research as an undergraduate. Luckily, I was proven wrong! This past summer, I had the opportunity to work in the physics department on an awesome project involving stars! My job was to collect and analyze data on binary stars, systems of two stars that orbit around each other. The data I used was photometric, meaning it related the intensity of the light my target stars gave off. Along with another girl in my department, we created light curves which graph the star system’s brightness across time. We completed a total of six curves this summer. From these curves, we found estimates for the system’s period and measures in the differences between their maxima (when the system is brightest). In the future, we can also use this data to calculate estimates for the mass-ratio and temperature of these stars.
This may sound boring to some, but my job didn’t just consist of graphing points on a curve! My research partner and I read papers, learned how to use new software, assembled telescopes, aligned those telescopes, learned about new constellations, and showed other students craters on the moon. While a fair bit of our work involved clicking buttons, we also got to travel and do some more hands on work. We collected data using a set of remotely-operated telescopes at the Sparks Farm Robotic Observatory which is owned by the college. Sometimes, our tech broke, so we drove down and spent the night running scripts and unscrewing things. By the end, I had mastered the art of falling asleep in a car.
Summer on Campus
Though Juniata is a small school, plenty of other research students were around this summer. Every Wednesday, research students would break from their work and meet in the von Liebig Center for Science. These afternoons, we listened to alumni and postdocs share their research findings and experience. They worked on everything from how nuts affect your gut flora to how birds in the Galapagos are becoming resistant to antibiotics. It was super interesting to hear from alumni, one of whom was actually a Goldwater Fellow. And the lunches were catered! We mainly got lunch from Lil New York, which never disappointed (except maybe for the olives in the empanadas…).
Beyond meeting for weekly lunches, the research students on campus met with those studying at the Field Station for s’mores and canoeing at Raystown Lake. Even though the lake is manmade, the area is super beautiful! Paddling through the mountains after scarfing down four s’mores was incredibly relaxing. Some of us also celebrated the 5th of July with other students working as tour guides on campus.
Presenting My Research
As the summer fun and research wrapped up, it was time to present! My research partner and I presented our findings at the Landmark Research Symposium, a symposium for undergraduate researchers belonging to Juniata’s sports conference. I was nervous for my first real research presentation—especially one online—but it went well! My partner and I successfully fielded questions from professors and some chemistry students. Our sponsor has plans for us to present at an AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers) meeting, along with the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics and National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Though I’m super excited to present at more conferences, I still can’t believe our work is quality enough to do so!
Finally, a note about funding. Juniata has many opportunities for funding summer research, whether through department money or through other programs. Half of stipend was paid through the department, while the other half came from the Student Scholarly Initiative at Juniata. The SSI exists to offer assistance with research and travel funds. As a recipient of such assistance, I have the privilege and obligation of presenting at Juniata’s Liberal Arts Symposium. This is a spring event in which Juniatians can present their research and theses via poster or presentation to other students and professors.
I’m grateful to my department and sponsor for this research opportunity. This semester, I plan to continue observation on new targets visible in Pennsylvania’s winter sky. To other students, especially in the sciences, reach out to your professors for research opportunities. Professors are almost always willing to take you on their projects. The experience is well worth it, especially at Juniata.