PHD Biomedicine, Taiwanese Applicant, Personal Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

As a result of my significant exposure to research projects and researchers, I have come to understand that a good scientist is not necessarily a good researcher and that an effective researcher possesses a set of characteristics that are comparatively rare. The researcher is an excellent scientist with an exceptional understanding of her subject, she is an honest person ready to admit to any bias or interest in outcomes, she has: the capacity to think creatively and originally applying intuition where appropriate, the discipline to adhere strictly to the relevant protocols, the determination to see challenges through to their conclusion and the ability to cooperate with others and the willingness to generously acknowledge the contribution made by others when goals are achieved. I do not claim that this is an exhaustive summary but I believe that it lists the basic characteristics found in a good researcher. I firmly believe that I possess and have demonstrated these characteristics and that I have the potential to develop them to a degree which will enable me to undertake excellent research for the benefit of many.

I am Taiwanese and my native language is Mandarin and I am fluent in English. Since coming to the US, I have happily studied, worked and socialized with people of many different social and ethnic backgrounds. I enjoy learning about new cultures and sharing knowledge of my own rich heritage. I get on easily with others and am as happy working in collaboration as in working autonomously.

Since childhood, it has been my intention to make a beneficial difference in the world. My interest and ability in scientific subjects made it a natural choice of career path. When considering how to apply my abilities, Biomedicine was the one in which I felt that I could maximize my usefulness to the world and is a choice that I have never regretted. It has provided great satisfaction and joy and I now seek to build on my work, studies and research experience to date in order to achieve my long term objective of working as an Informatics as an independent scientist in a research institute, hospital or private company.

My laboratory experience began in 2011 when I joined Dr. XXXX and Dr. XXXX’s lab and began my Master’s degree studies in the National Chung Hsing University. In my time there, I acquired basic laboratory skills in Molecular Biology and plant tissue culture. My problem solving skills were challenged and developed. I worked hard and found the work fascinating. I acquired a reputation for being able to learn quickly and thoroughly and demonstrating adaptability, and I was soon entrusted with a project of my own.

Once I had been awarded my Master’s degree, Dr. XXXX recommended me to Dr. XXXX at XXXX University. I had never travelled outside Taiwan at that time and was somewhat apprehensive, though very excited, at being given this opportunity because of my fascination with the subject of the project. The research at XXXX proved to be far more challenging than I had expected but this was a formative and highly rewarding experience in the development of my skills and in recognizing some latent abilities. The experiments were straightforward but the daily challenges and the troubleshooting proved most to be the most challenging aspects of the work and I rose to those challenges well. My time there provided an insight into the need for determination and persistence in good research and developed my creativity in overcoming problems.

Being an Exchange Researcher at XXXX opened my eyes to the vast range of research being undertaken in the US. I elected to join Dr. XXXX’s lab in July 2015 because I regarded his research in Membrane Biophysics as providing an excellent opportunity to work with, and learn from, experts in both Biology and Physics. The techniques and thinking applied in the lab were significantly different from those that I had experienced to date and it was necessary to adapt quickly to new concepts which I did successfully. During this time, my confidence increased and my knowledge was broadened and deepened. Dr. XXXX encouraged me to fulfill my dream of pursuing a Ph.D. and allowed me to take a course in programming to enable me to do so. I learned how to properly use R programming which was totally new to me and became fascinated with this aspect of data science. It was at this point that my decision to pursue a Biomedical Ph.D. was made.

Dr. XXXX’s group has been studying the interaction between antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and cell membranes for decades. My first project in Dr. XXXX’s lab was about the comparison of AMPs between model membrane and E. coli membrane. The bacterial membrane represents an attractive target for the design of new antibiotics to combat widespread bacterial resistance. Understanding how antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and other membrane-active agents attack membranes could facilitate the design of new, effective antimicrobials. Despite intense study of AMPs on model membranes, we do not know how well the mechanism of attack translates to real biological membranes. To that end, we have characterized the attack of AMPs on Escherichia coli cytoplasmic membranes and directly compared this action to model membranes. Our results provide a strong support for using model membranes to study the molecular interactions of AMPs with bacterial membranes. The hard work was rewarded with a publication in Biophysical Journal in Feb 2017.

My special research interests are in Public Health and biomedical research especially in the design and analysis of large and complex data. I am applying to UX Health because of its worldwide reputation for the quality of its research projects, the prestigious faculty, the world-class facilities and the stellar success of so many of its graduates. The opportunity to work with the most promising and passionate of students in Biomedicine is extremely attractive to me. I believe that I have the potential to add to the university’s lustrous reputation and will apply myself with exceptional diligence and enthusiasm in order to do so and to achieve my goals. I seek a program that will be highly challenging and supportive academic environment and am very confident that this will be provided. I am confident that I possess the determination and diligence, and the skills, knowledge and working experience that will enable me to excel within the program and to ‘add value’ to it and in my career beyond. I seek challenges and consequent satisfaction and I believe that working with large amounts of biological data to provide answers to pressing questions will provide this to the highest degree.

During my time at XXXX, I was involved in the analysis of large amounts of data and learned the basics of large scale data management within a Bioinformatics system in order to integrate gene data with proper statistical models to predict genetic interactions. Since that experience, supplemented by my formal study of ‘R Programming’, Bioinformatics has become a special interest and my preferred area of future study. I am confident that I have the intelligence, diligence and flexibility to quickly acquire the additional specialist knowledge and skills to enable me to advance and, ultimately, to excel in Public Health Informatics.

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