Hi Charles, thank you for taking the time to write your reply, you've given me some really valuable advice. Those are some valuable general considerations to keep in mind regardless of which direction I go. I know that in the first lab, the third point is especially relevant as I was told that there is a postdoc that will be providing guidance for me throughout, so that's something for me to be mindful of.
Your fourth point is something I'll give a bit more thought as well, especially because I know the second lab recently did a project monitoring a population to see which pathogens were present, so there's definitely scope for me to shape a project in that area.
I appreciate the final point too, that's something to be careful of and I should try to get a better handle on how much freedom I'll have before I commit. Hopefully, as you say, that's not as generally true for bioinformatics-related projects but I can see there still being a risk of that.
Hi there, thank you so much for the fantastic, detailed reply, I appreciate the effort.
It's really good to hear your perspective on being able to choose my own project, as that's something I'm concerned about too. The second supervisor did mention that that is a challenging thing for students to manage, and so I am more drawn to being able to complete a pre-designed and well-constructed research project than trying to pull one together on my own.
I just realized that I completely neglected to mention in my original post that I am from Australia, which is a pretty major detail but only really means that that advice about the NSF GRFP doesn't apply. Given that I (hopefully) won't be in as much debt completing my MS in Australia rather than the US, I hope that that might give me a bit more "slack" as you say. Nevertheless, I understand what you're saying about being "pulled" in a certain direction and that's something I'll take care to be aware of.
The advice about making sure my work is directly helping someone else's is excellent, and I know for sure that that will be the case for the first lab, as the supervisor clearly explained how the research is contributing to the lab's agenda, and there is a postdoc in the lab that has similar research so will be apparently guiding me throughout.
On the last point, I might try to recontact the first supervisor to get a general idea of what techniques they use in their lab and that I would be using, to try to gauge how marketable my time in the lab would make me.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and useful reply!
Thank-you so much for the reply, I really appreciate the resources you've sent through. I'll have a look at some of the opportunities that the NWRA reccomends. I'm not sure if you meant to send the second link or not though, looks like it links to a timetable template site.
I agree that uni is just a foundation too, and I'm planning on doing further post-grad study if it's necessary.
Thanks for the link, I have had a bit of a look at that website but I should have another look. I think I did consider the option of 1-on-1 advice at one point but I'm not sure why I didn't follow it up, so I really appreciate the suggestion and reminder :)
That's a good point about pandemic preparedness, it is definitely less of a move from the biology fields I'm considering. Unfortunately I'm not very knowledgeable about the kind of work required and the need for people there, so I'll definitely follow that up. Again, perhaps a 1-1 session with 80K Hours would be a good idea for getting a better understanding of that area.
I have been developing an interest in programming and have done a few classes at university so I think I'll develop that on the side for now, and work on keeping the option of pandemic prevention work open as you've suggested.
Congrats on the position on the 1-1 team, and thanks again for your insight, means a lot.
Thanks so much for replying! Really appreciate the advice.
I definitely should try to contact some more experts, thanks for that push. Getting some more experience is a good idea too, it's a bit tricky at the moment due to uncertainties with COVID but as soon as things start to open back up, I'll do my best to get in contact. I'm sure it'll be useful regardless of the field I go into.
Means a lot that you took the time to reply, I'll do my best to follow your advice and I'll hopefully leave an update here at some point to say how I'm going with it.
and P.S. thanks so much, I see we both have refined tastes :P
Hi Joseph, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, it's interesting to hear your own angle from a pandemics preparedness background.
Those are some really useful guiding principles to follow, and I'm going to send an email to a member of the lab to try to get a better understanding of the supervisor's style of supervising and the culture of the lab overall. I really should try to connect with more bio experts, I've had a look on Effective Thesis but I hadn't heard about that consultation service, so I'll look into it. More generally, I will try to seek out more EA-aligned bio experts to chat with, I've found those I've contacted in the past to be very receptive.
Thanks again Joseph and good luck for your own efforts at impact!