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Physics statement of purpose to obtain Ph.D. in theoretical condensed matter physics


larry burns 1 / -  
Nov 3, 2010   #1
I would appreciate some help with my essay. Any constructive criticisms, especially the paragraph describing my fathers illness. I want to make it sound like I learned from it as opposed to using the situation as an excuse for my poor grades, lack of classes, etc. Thanks

My objective is to obtain a Ph.D. in theoretical condensed matter physics. But I also find astrophysics and atomic, molecular, and optical physics to be promising areas of research. I could also possibly want to do research in experimental physics. I see the progress of obtaining a Ph.D as just the first step for a career in research. I eventually want to have a career as a university professor, but would also consider a career as a researcher in industry.

After I transferred to [my university], after completing previous coursework at community colleges, one of the first physics courses I took covered statistical and quantum mechanics. Because I loved that class, I wanted to learn more about physics by conducting research in physics. I then decided to accept an opportunity to work on a research project with [Dr. Smith] at [X University]. The project involved materials and statistical physics. After enjoying the work on that research project and my courses in upper-division quantum mechanics, I wanted to do another research project related to materials physics. I was able to eventually work on a research project with [Dr. Johnson] at [Y University] that involved materials modeling.

My research project with [Dr. Smith] focused on examining the spatial distribution of the constituent atoms in metallic alloys that are non-crystalline. My work consisted of examining the crystallite structures in the alloys. I did this by preparing an experiment using various mixtures of two different sized metallic balls, to represent the two different atoms composing the alloys. I was able to obtain data for the fraction of the atoms that were in the glassy state and in crystallites, and how the fraction varied with different mixtures.

I worked with [Dr. Johnson] in a project that modeled epitaxial growth, which is the deposition of a material on top of a substrate. I used C++ programming to perform Monte Carlo simulations to see how many times the deposited particle would end up in certain locations on the substrate, which we specified as "sinks". I eventually obtained data that showed how the number of particles that landed in certain sinks varied with the sink density, which we specified as the number of sinks per given area.

An important event occurred during my undergrad which affected my academic background. My father became seriously ill towards the end of my undergrad studies. As a result, I felt pressured by my family to graduate as quickly as possible so that he could see me graduate. Therefore, I decided to complete the B.A. in physics, instead of the B.S, so I didn't get to take any physics electives courses, such as in solid-state physics. My grades also suffered the most in my final quarter at [University Y]. Moreover, I also had to reject an offer from the [research lab] for an internship research program so I could stay with my family. However, I was able to persevere through my personal issues because I knew my father worked hard in life in order to give me the best opportunities and to see me succeed in my studies. I believe I have grown as a result of these adversities because I feel a greater motivation to succeed in my studies and make the most of the life that my father gave to me.

I wish to pursue a Ph.D. in physics at [University Z] because the physics program offers many exciting research opportunities that will provide me with a intellectually satisfying experience. In theoretical condensed matter physics, I'm interested in doing research in such areas as correlated electrons in solids, many-body theory of solids, and superconductivity. Therefore, I might like to work with Professor Larry, Professor Burns, and Professor Jonson.
EF_Susan - / 2,364 12  
Nov 8, 2010   #2
However, I was able to persevere through my personal issues because I knew my father worked hard all his life in order to give me the best opportunities, and to see me succeed in my studies.

... the physics program offers many exciting research opportunities that will provide me with an intellectually satisfying experience.

The paragraph about your fathers illness doesn't sound like you are making excuses at all. All you have done up until your dad got sick, proves how serious and dedicated you are. Good luck in school.
mathsam 7 / 23  
Nov 8, 2010   #3
To be frank, your beginning is definetly lame.
You try to show your wide interest in different areas, but the graduate school expects to see one who is well prepared during undergraduate study. They definely want you to have a specific research interest and also research experienece to support your interest.

P.S., I'm applying for condensed matter experience.


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