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Sample Personal Statement for Genetics

Growing up in the high mountains and loft hills of the XX plateau in western China, I have long been habituated to the beauty of nature. However, when our biology teacher at high school presented us with the double-spiral structure of DNA, I was utterly thrilled by its astounding beauty. This made me realize that there is another aspect of natural beauty, the beauty of life science, which is of far greater and more immediate relevance to human welfare. From the very outset of my biology study, I have been guided by the pursuit of this powerful yet mysterious beauty and its underlying mechanisms. Although there are many other important dimensions to the study of biology, my interest in biology as a discipline of beauty and mysteries remains paramount.

At the College of Life Science, XX University, I have not only completed my undergraduate program but also have proceeded onto a Master’s program. I majored in biotechnology as an undergraduate and in modern genetics and bioengineering as a graduate. This sustained and comprehensive 7-year specialization in biology has made me distinguished among the rest of the Chinese applicants of biology programs, for my understanding of the biological science is much more in-depth, and my determination to pursue biological research as my lifelong career has become much more strong.

A true commitment to biology study means persistence despite turns and twists. Coming from an economically and educationally underdeveloped region of the country into a highly competitive university, my first-year GPA as an undergraduate was merely 3.16. Yet I knew that I was a person of unlimited potential, which could be brought into full play through extra persistence. The remaining three years witnessed my steady and continued ascendancy (3.55, 3.39, 3.61) to end up in a 3.44 GPA in my specialty. I self-studied a series of western classics on biology, among which can be cited Genes VII by Benjamin Lewin (Oxford University Press). During my Master’s program, my GPA is even more outstanding, reaching 3.72. I have particularly excelled in such core courses as Advanced Molecular Biology, Advanced Cell Biology, Advanced Microbiology, Biochemistry, Special Subject of Genetics, Gene Engineering, and Bioinformatics, all of which are highly relevant to the program I am applying for. In addition, I have acquired some teaching experience by doing a practice teaching in microbiology.

A true commitment to biology research also means knowing what you want to do and what you want to be. In learning biology, I cannot help being impressed by the exquisiteness of various phenomena of life—the life processes in a single cell are frequently no simpler than those in an individual organism. To unveil this great sophistication, I resorted to experimentation. As early as I was a junior, I took the initiative to join a national key laboratory based in the Department of Biology Science of our university—The Laboratory for Biological Resources and Ecological Environment under the Ministry of Education. The laboratory has been performing the country’s most pioneering ecological research in the prevention of grassland desertification, locust and rat plagues, and the exploitation of grassland resources like fungi.

My two-year research work at the laboratory resulted in my bachelor’s thesis XX, which became part of the XX Research and Development Program. Pseudononas Pseudoalcaligenes is a new pathogen bacterium whose metabolism produces insecticide protein. The pPA7 promoters, which control toxic protein synthesis, can be cloned from this gene-engineered bacterium and used to kill locusts effectively by means of a mass of chitinase.

My distinguished academic performance won me First-Class Prize for Excellent Undergraduate (1999-2000) and Quanxin Prize of XX University (2000-2001). But Outstanding Graduate of XX University (2002) and Honor of Excellent Graduation Thesis of the University (2002, awarded to only 5% of undergraduates) were much more defining because they qualified me for a direct Master’s program with entrance examinations exempted.

Although my graduate study has continued to provide me with input in fundamental theories, it has been dominated by research, the development of scientific thinking and advanced experimental techniques. This is very much in accordance with my expectation of a research-intensive Master’s program. No sooner did I embark on the program than I joined the research on the analysis of microbial populations and major physical group in degraded grassland soils in southwestern China. It is part of XX Program of China whose objective was to seek countermeasures for grassland degradation and desertification. In the project, we separated and cultured bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes by different substrata, recorded their amounts and analyzed their living features, identified and classified special strains by their different biological functions. Our research is meaningful in furbishing the intrinsic grassland environment and harmonizing the relationship between resource utilization, preservation and management. .

A more challenging project I have undertaken is XX – a key project of stockbreeding of Sichuan Province in the 10th Five-Years Program. Together with other team members, I have traveled to 9 counties and collected more than 600 blood samples of goats. By extracting their genomic DNA separately and amplifying them with selected 80 random primers by PCR, we evaluated and compared the results of PCR by agarose gel electrophoresis. The phylogenetic map and tree obtained can shed light on genetic differentiation and taxonomic research, providing an essential basis for the preservation and breeding of fine goat stocks. The preliminary research results have been embodied in the paper XX, published in Journal of XX University (Natural Sciences Edition, the country’s core scholarly journal). As the second author, I am preparing another research paper which will be submitted to an international scholarly journal. My Master’s dissertation will be an comprehensive examination and presentation of the findings of the entire project.

During my graduate program, I have made conscious efforts to cultivate two important qualities. By serving as a volunteer at the XX of China in Sept. 2002 and at theXX of China in Oct. 2003, I have learned the importance of keeping abreast with the latest developments of a rapidly developing discipline. In undertaking large-scale formal research projects and fieldwork, I learned the importance of concerted teamwork in achieving the common objective. Working as a team leader, I designed and scheduled experiments, and rationalized division of labor among three graduate students and 10 undergraduates has made our research on the random amplified polymorphic DNA a complete success.

Doing a Master’s program puts me only halfway from my ambition to become a well trained biologist and only a Ph.D. program at XX University can consummate this ambition. My study of your School of Life Science indicates that cutting-edge achievements have been made there, with more than 50 faculty working in four major fields – physiology, ecology and evolution, systematics, and molecular biology. I myself would like to concentrate on molecular biology or genetics and the laboratory led by Prof. XX is involved in basic and applied genetic research while Prof. XX is studying the mechanism of breast cancer by means of molecular biology. Apart from those fascinating research, your school allows students access to extensive support facilities including an electron microscope center, herbarium, natural history museum, vivarium, greenhouses, and growth chambers. Your research programs, curriculum and facilities make your university the cradle for those would-be biological scientists, who can integrate their academic work closely with practical application.

Intrigued by the multi-faceted beauty of the world of biology, I find myself just inside the threshold of this wonderful world. Well-grounded in academics, in research, and in experimental skills, I am ready to travel a long way in my lifelong research career and your highly regarded Ph.D. program will be my new starting-point.

 


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