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Topic: Synthetic Organic Chemistry PhD programs  (Read 8211 times)

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Offline jrich

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Synthetic Organic Chemistry PhD programs
« on: October 15, 2011, 02:34:57 PM »
Looking for some guidance and tips.

I graduated in '08 with a B.S. in Chemistry.  I knew I wanted to do a PhD eventually but wasn't ready to commit at that time. 
After a torturous job search I ended up doing environmental analytical with the govt for a year and a half.  About 6 months ago I took a new position with a custom chemical manufacturer in the R&D dept.  I love this job, though I don't make as much as I would like (the universal complaint I suppose!) and I truly believe that I will need a PhD to achieve my career goals.

I am in the midst of the planning and application process, but I find myself tiring of slogging thru websites for the perfect synthetic organic program.  I've already been to the us world news and reports website, etc.  I am most interested in the Northeast & East Coast region.  I would welcome your insights, opinions and strategies!

Thank you!

Offline fledarmus

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Re: Synthetic Organic Chemistry PhD programs
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2011, 04:20:16 PM »
For a PhD, the quality of the school or the program isn't nearly as important as the quality of the person who will be your research advisor. In fact, I would say that your research advisor is all-important in choosing a graduate program.

If you have contacts in the fields that you would like to work in, find out where they got their PhDs and what they thought of their advisors and any other advisors in the school. Talk to your PhD colleagues in your current position about their graduate programs. Do some literature searches and find the key people doing seminal research in the areas that interest you. Look up the publication records and group sizes of the schools you are thinking about applying to and figure out who you would want to work for. Go to some ACS meetings and talk to the people presenting about their research groups, both students and professors.

Some things about a research advisor that will make your life easier during and after grad school:
  • moderate sized research group - large enough to have plenty of people to ask for help, small enough that you can make an impact.
  • length of time to get a PhD - there are people out there that like to have lots of grad students, especially later stage grad students that know how to do research, and somehow manage to make it take 6 or 7 years to get the PhD.
  • money - if the PhD is good at getting grants and funding, it will make it much easier for you to do research. Sad but true. Reusing silica gel and disposable pipettes and trying to get data out of antique equipment that nobody remembers how to maintain will really slow down your progress.
  • contacts - your main purpose in getting a PhD is getting a better job. It helps if your research advisor is also a major consultant in the industry you intend to work in.
  • reputation - face it, there are a lot of places where being able to say "I worked for Dr. xxx" will mean more than anything you ever learned. Especially when Dr. xxx is the acknowledged authority in the field you are working in.

Picking your research advisor will fix the course of your grad school and immediate post-grad life. Choose carefully. I have deliberately picked some of the more cynical bases for choice and left out many of the personal choices that will help you stay happy (or at least sane) in your graduate program, but they are in fact extremely important and few people thinking about entering grad school even realize they might be important. I have no doubt that you will be able to extend this list dramatically when you sit down and think about it!

Best of luck

Offline 408

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Re: Synthetic Organic Chemistry PhD programs
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2011, 08:49:40 PM »
The above post is very true.  Although I would weight the group size as least important.  My group is massive, and the competition just makes me want to be the best.

Offline zs3889

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Re: Synthetic Organic Chemistry PhD programs
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2011, 10:33:28 PM »
Hi guys, I am an undergrad in chemistry, doing my senior year this semester. I am currently working in a research lab in my school, its a medicinal chemistry lab but basically what they do in that lab is very organic based. I am considering on applying for a Ph.D program after my undergrad, and yea i am interested in organic chemistry.

So my question is, what difference would it make to have a synthetic organic chemistry Ph.D or a medicinal chemistry Ph.D?? As far as i know, medicinal chemistry is technically based on organic chemistry.

Sorry for asking my question here as i did not want to create a new thread and this thread is so related to my question!


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