Here I have compiled my advice and takeaways from my graduate school application and decision making process, as well as my successful application materials (ones that resulted in offers).
I have extensive experience helping peers with scholarship and fellowship applications. Here I've compiled my
personal advice, my own successful applications of various things, and helpful links.
These are all to be used for inspiration and guidance only.
You are welcome to distribute advice pages with proper attribution.
Do not distribute application materials without authorization.
Honor system here people.
GRFP offers three years of funding for you graduate program including tuition and fees, health insurence, and a stipend. It is through the NSF and it open to US citizens. From Fall 2020 - Fall 2021, I worked as a graduate consultant for the University of Arizona GRFP Application Development Program. As an undergrad at the University of Texas, I worked as a consultant at the University Writing Center for three semesters, helping folks improve their writing on all kinds of writing pieces, of which maybe 50% were applications for scholarships or programs. I've developed a toolbox of common advice and feedback throughout all these consultations.
My materials and collected resources for a post doc job application cycle. My friend Taylor Hutchison created a detailed and thorough application guide that I used extensively. I've also provided my application tracker (based on Taylor's) if someone wants to copy it. I also provided some of my submitted applications. I had a hard time finding examples for what some of the weirder things looked like in the NSF apps, for example, so I provided them here. Please know that these apps did not result in an offer! Only the University of Michigan ELT fellowship resulted in an offer.
If you are a GRFP Fellow or funded through your advisor's NSF grant, there is supplemental funding for you to do an internship of up to 6 months at a non-academic institution. I did an internship at NASA Ames from April - Sep 2023. A housing stiped, travel, etc are all included. You are even eligible if you are not on tenure, in which case they also provide the normal tenure stipend for those months (I was not on tenure when I did it). Make sure you give a lot of lead time though, the bureaucracy is slow. It took me ~2 years from initially considering it to getting it approved.
(This program was formerly known as GRIP)
Above writing advice is applicable to these applications as well.
- Workshop on research library management tools for Diana Davis Spencer Scholars 2022 And Video transcript
My "Doing Good Academia" Blog Post Series
Advice from Others
- The prevelance of the myth of the lone genius negatively correlates with # of women and Black PhDs granted in your field.
- What is H index
Poster design and colors:
- The importance of perceptually uniform color maps for data visualization and accessiblity
- Guidelines for choosing the right color map from the above paper
- Interactive Poster Design Worksheet and annotated posters by the Caltech Writing Center
- Better Poster 1 by Mike Morrison
- Better Poster 2 by Mike Morrison
- Tweet thread about using color in presentations
- Tweet thread about using fonts and typesetting in presentations
- 5 tips for creating more accessible presentations by Bright Carbon
- How to create beautiful and effective research poster in PowerPoint by Bright Carbon
- Best examples of scientific posters by Dr. Miguel Balbin
- Adobe's accessible color pallet generator
- Colorhunt.co: tons and tons of color palettes
- Color Oracle colorblindness simulator: check that your plots and posters are readable for folks with different types of color blindness
- The "Good Talk" Talk by Natasha Batalha and Emily Martin
- Tweet thread by Nicholas Coles about good talk practices
- How to make a plot by Ciaran O'Hare
- The Student Veteran Research Network Links page has
hugecollection of all kinds of useful links.
- Demystifying the grad school application process
- The Complete Guide to Estimated Quarterly Taxes for Fellowship Recipients. If you got the GRFP or another fellowship that does not withhold taxes from your payment, YOU MUST PAY ESTIMATED QUARTERLY TAXES. I am on a mission to shout this from the rooftops.
- "Grad School in Astronomy" Guide by Jacob Luhn, Mariah MacDonald, and Drew Miles
- Masha’s guide for applying to physics graduate school by Masha (Maria Okounkova)
- Tips for Landing a Post-Baccalaureate Research Experience by Leah Fulmer, Marina Dunn, Alex Gagliano and more
- Some things to consider when considering a grad program
- A great tweet thread on writing a statement of purpose. A PDF of the tweet thread.
- Tweet thread by Joey Rodriguez on why cold emails to prospective advisors might not be a good idea. PDF of the tweet thread.
- List of Astronomy, Planetary Science, and Physics US grad programs and their status on the GRE and Physics GRE
- A website of resources and blog about women in STEM by Sarah Rugheimer.
- List of internships for non-US undergrad students
- Astrobites grad school guide
- A tweet thread by Dr Caitlin Casey on astronomy undergrad summer research programs.
- A compilation of questions to ask when visiting a prospective graduate program.
- GRFP advice by Dr. Taylor Hutchison
- An excellent blog post about inquiring about grad school research positions and contacting potential advisors, by Jacquelyn Gill.
- Advice from Miles Currie on astronomy grad school applications.
- More grad school application advice
- My Notion collection of useful tweet threads ; How to use Save To Notion to make your own
- Taylor Hutchison's amazing academic job cycle guide
- Incredible guide by Ubadah Sabbagh
- NASA Hubble Fellowship Guide and Examples
- Honing Your Hubble App
- 51 Peg b Fellowship
- NSF MPS-Ascend Fellowship
- NSF AAPF Fellowship
- A good source for (non-academic) resumes and cover letters
- Dr Arianna Long's twitter thread about getting the most out of your letters of rec
- A Letter of Rec tracker template
- A twitter thread by Floor Broekgaarden of postdoc app resources
- AstroBetter Career Guide
- Zotero is the best library management tool. Here is my blog post about why!
- 15 Zotero tutorials by Mushtaq Bilal
- Litmaps: find papers that connect to papers in your Zotero library; from this tweet.
- Connected Papers: find papers that connect to papers in your Zotero library.
- Research Rabbit: find papers that connect to papers in your Zotero library.
- Using reverse outlines from University of Wisconson Writing Center
- The "Uneven U" form paragraph structure
- How to write a great research paper by Simon Peyton Jones
- How to craft a well-argued proposal by Dr Julianne Dalcanton.
- Idea-to-Proposal transformer brainstorming tool for proposal writing by Dr. Divya M. Persaud
- 5 common writing mistakes by Jacquelyn Gill.
- Manuscript flowchart from This thread by Dr Asma Jabeen
- Writing resources by Raul Pacheco
- Tweet thread on writing compelling introductions by Peter Gao
- Writing literature reviews by Raul Pacheco
- Note taking techniques by Raul Pacheco
- Matt Kenworthy on why you should have a website as a professional scientist
- Astrosites Tutorial on making an awesome website with HTML5UP and Github
- Carrd.co has free and beautiful one-page simple websites
- How to make a Github Profile README that acts like a homepage for your GitHub
- A blog on how to make a website with GitHub and Jekyll
- Intro to Astro python coding bootcamp course specifically for astronomy by Howard Isaacson at UC Berkeley
- Code/Astro 2021 workshop materials by Sarah Blunt, BJ Fulton, and Jason Wang. Instruction on good coding practices, open-source software design, publishing a package, and much more. You should also REALLY sign up for the next course. Information here
- Peter Smith's blog with tutorials on jazzing up plots with matplotlib.
Header Image: Carina Nebula from JWST/NIRCam, source: NASA