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- About
- Short Stories/Poetry
- Duke Work (1999-2003)
- International Young Physicists' Tournament (1999)
- NCSSM Work (1997-1999)
- Applications
- Early High School Work (1995-1997)


School Applications

Below are application materials and supporting documents I wrote for applications to graduate school (UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, and Virginia Commonwealth University), to college (Duke University), and to the NC School of Science and Mathematics, in that order.

Feel free to read them and get ideas, but if you want to use them to cheat when writing your own application, be aware that schools now use software to compare new applications to previous ones to weed out cheaters. There really isn't any room for dishonesty in academics. The whole point of being an academic is to gather and present new and truthful knowledge (not to make big bucks or gain lots of status and fame, though if you're lucky that might come later--don't count on it though). By plagiarizing your application you're already starting your academic career wrong. So just read my stuff to get ideas, but don't copy if you're serious about getting in to wherever you want to go.

Good luck!

Applying to Graduate School

Statement of Purpose, Application to Duke University's Ecology Graduate Program

This was written only for this graduate program; UNC-Chapel Hill had a different kind of application process and I was able to email them with a similar essay. As of March 15 I haven't heard from Duke yet, but I've already been accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill (yay!)

Additional Information to Accompany My Duke University Application

There was a section where I could submit accompanying information for my Duke graduate school application, so I did. I felt that since this was my second application to Duke and I'd heard that applicants were being admitted with 3.8 GPAs and above, I needed to explain my poor performance during my first semester at Duke. It was the only thing responsible for lowering my overall GPA. I'm guessing that didn't work since I haven't heard from Duke yet...

Planting Shade, a Statement of Purpose (original version)

This was written during a period after I first applied to Duke's biology program along with over 100 applicants, and didn't get one of the 8 or so available spots. I began to think about doing genetics/molecular biology instead since many more students get accepted to those programs. However, though I was (and still am) highly interested in the subject of genetic/molecular means of life extension, after one month of working in a great virology lab with a really caring advisor, David Pickup, I sadly realized I didn't quite have the training or the stamina to work long hours at a biomedical lab bench. There isn't very much of an outlet for creativity when following lab protocols. It was a troubling discovery for me since I have tons of interests, and this was my biggest one in the field of biomedical science. However, the experience taught me that at my core, I'm really a physics and computer person who values her creativity and cares deeply about nature. That's drawn me to landscape ecology/biogeography instead.

After sending this revised version of my statement of purpose (and while working at the Pickup Lab), I was admitted to the Human Genetics program at Virginia Commonwealth University. In the end I had to turn that down. After long months of consideration and researching ecology graduate programs, I had made up my mind that ecology was what I wanted to do for my career.

Applying to Duke

Sonoluminescence and Fusion

This paper accompanied my application for admission to Duke University. I wonder if it significantly helped my application, since many students from NCSSM apply to Duke but only a few get accepted. I was strongly considering a major in physics and had wanted to explore the possibility of tweaking the properties of sonoluminescent bubbles to achieve the even higher temperatures required for nuclear fusion. Unfortunately due to roommate troubles my first semester and a resulting abysmally low GPA, my physics research prospects were undercut.

My fascination with sonoluminescent bubbles continues, in a way, in my high-speed photographic studies of drops and splashes. Sound waves cause water to cavitate and form rapidly collapsing bubbles, but under the right conditions a simple splash can also give rise to air bubbles underwater. The air bubbles arise differently than in sonoluminescence--they are pinched from the surface rather than created by low pressure--but I've come to learn that it's the idea of mechanical waves being able to produce a variety of complex shapes and interactions that has really intrigued me. In short, I'm highly interested in wave dynamics. This in turn has led me to be curious about how electromagnetic waves (light) might do the same in 3D and higher dimensions. So even though my prospects for sonoluminescence research at Duke quickly died, my curiosity at the phenomenon has led me down a different but related path.

Applying to NCSSM

NCSSM Application Essay (click here for completed version)

The first half is a general statement, and the rest is the actual essay.  This should give you an idea of what kinds of things should be included in an application.  (I'm not saying that everything I've included should be what prospective students should include, although since I got admitted, perhaps some of these points might be good points to talk about.)

4/18/97 - Supplement to My Application

I wrote this near the end of my sophomore year, while still at my old high school.  I did some new things, and NCSSM wanted me to update them on those things so they could see what I'd been doing during the entire NCSSM admissions process.  My guess is that they wanted to make sure prospective students weren't slacking off just before they were admitted.

Community Service Report

Sixty hours of community service is an NCSSM graduation requirement, and must be done either the summer before coming to NCSSM, or the summer between the junior and senior years.  I chose to do mine at the Fayetteville, NC Animal Haven before coming to NCSSM, so I could leave my next summer open for research opportunities.

My Ambition of Life

I think I must have written this just for a personal portfolio I had, since I can't remember using it in any other context.  I took the portfolio to my NCSSM interview just in case my interviewer wanted to see some things I had done, but the portfolio turned out not to be necessary for my particular interviewer.  (I don't know about other interviewers, however.)

Personal Perspective

This is a summary of stuff I did from ninth grade to tenth grade.  The date range on this paper says 1995 to 1999, but I think it should read 1995 to 1997 instead.  (My portfolio was a 4-year portfolio, and I had anticipated to make the Personal Perspective span 4 years.  However, upon going to NCSSM in 1997, I decided not to update this paper.)

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