(Hopefully) Useful Resources

Throughout my academic career so far, I’ve benefited from having access to others' successful writing examples and from their knowledge of the academic systems I’m engaging with. In the same vein, below are a few of the materials I’ve used to apply for lab technician positions, Ph.D programs, and fellowships. Please return the favor of my volunteering these resources by respecting my intellectual property and practicing academic integrity, and please please feel free to reach out with any questions!


I built my CV in LaTeX using the resume.cls class from Trey Hunner on GitHub. I used this same format while applying to teching jobs in academia after graduating from college.

Ava’s CV

Ph.D Program Applications

I applied to six programs in 2021: Duke - UPGG, Yale University - BBS (MCGD), UC-Berkeley - MCB (GGD), Stanford - Genetics, Cornell - MCGD (GGD), and UChicago - Ecology and Evolution. I was accepted into all of these programs, and below are links to my Duke Statement of Purpose (where I ended up matriculating), as well as to my UC-Berkeley essays (this is the only school on this list that is a little different, in that it requires a personal statement and a research statement).

Duke SoP | UC-Berkeley Research | UC-Berkeley Personal

If you’re interested in Duke’s UPGG program, feel free to reach out!

NSF GRFP Application

Below are my research and personal statements for the NSF GRFP. I won this fellowship as I was applying to grad school, sending in an application in Fall 2021. I just want to acknowledge that this particular fellowship is known to be a bit of a lottery, so please keep that in mind when reading these and also when applying yourself! Even if you aren’t awarded the fellowship the first time around, you receive feedback on your submission, which is really useful for resubmission (and something I didn’t know when I applied).

NSF GRFP Research | NSF GRFP Personal


While I was a tech for two years and I would highly recommend doing this for anyone applying to graduate school in genetics/genomics/evolution, I will just disclaimer this by saying that it’s really hard! Not only once you become a tech, but also while you’re applying to be one - I sent out over forty applications (albeit mostly due to the pandemic) and nearly ended up volunteering on a remote island outside Hawai’i instead of working at the Broad.

If you do land a tech job, and you feel like you’re struggling - I can guarantee you that other techs are feeling the same way around you (maybe in a different lab, or maybe even at a different institution but in a similar role). Being an early career researcher means that you are often more vulnerable than other researchers to imposter syndrome and intentional/inadvertent workplace forces: you may not have had work experience in research before and are unsure what is the norm vs. what is unhealthy, and the pressure of needing positive recommendations from your superiors to apply to grad school can lead to situations where work-life boundaries are blurred and/or you’re not sure how and when to advocate for yourself. I really really recommend seeking out other techs if you feel this way to figure out if the problem is with you or with a lab/mentor that is asking too much of you, has an unhealthy culture, etc.! And again, feel free to reach out :)

If you’re teching now and struggle with taking your failures too personally (to the point that it’s affecting your ability to work well on other things), something I did was keep a mistake log - write down what the mistake you’re having trouble letting go was; why it happened; and how you’re going to prevent it next time. I kept this on a google doc and every time I wrote a new entry, I sent it to my supervisor as well (after letting them know in person that I made an error), to let them know how I was planning on dealing with the setback. The act of owning the mistake and physically writing an action plan really helped me deal with, and move past, whatever the mistake was - big or small.

Reality Check (Things I didn’t get or win)

In science, I sometimes feel like we spend a lot of time competing about achievements and the things that make us look smart! That’s great, especially when we celebrate each other for our achievements and the barriers we’ve overcome to get there, but it can also be isolating - when we focus only on the experiments that worked or the fellowships that were won, etc., it hides exactly how many failures (and how learning from those failures) built that amazing person who’s doing that science. Consequently, when you experience that failure yourself but nobody is discussing their own similar experiences, it can sometimes end up feeling like you are the only one who’s struggling or experiencing failure when trying to move through some parts of academia/science. So here are some things that didn’t work for me!

  • I applied for the Fulbright fellowship to do a science project in Sweden during my undergrad, in 2019. It was the first fellowship I applied to, and I tanked it HARD. I had no experience writing fellowship applications and didn’t get it.
  • I graduated into the pandemic, in May 2020 - because of this, NOBODY was hiring. Although it looks awesome that I teched at the Broad, and I loved my time there, it was also probably the second place out of 40+ applications that even gave me an interview. That’s 38+ “No"s.
  • I didn’t get into my first choice school for undergrad, and if it wasn’t for the science at Wellesley, I would have had a really bad time! I’m so thankful for the lifelong mentors and research experience I gained from Wellesley, but it was also one of the only places that actually accepted me.

I deal with mistakes and failures in a way that one mentor put like this: imperfect, impersonal, impermanent. the process, AND you, are imperfect (human error); sometimes the decisions, or what went wrong, is impersonal - isn’t about you; and whatever the mistake or failure, it will pass - it is impermanent.