PhD talk: Writing a Cover Letter

in #life5 years ago (edited)

In the past few weeks I have been actively searching for a PhD position. Research is something I really fell in love with couple of months ago and I am sure the right path in my professional life is pursuing a PhD. Recently, I found a position that just felt right. For the first time I opened myself completely while writing a cover letter.


Passion for learning, research and personal growth brought me to apply for a PhD position. I am self-driven individual with a creative mind, attention to detail and a never-ending desire to learn and understand new concepts. Here is why I think my experience made me qualified for the position.

During my studies I fell in love with biological data – looking at the excel files and trying to make sense of the numbers, while most of my colleagues more enjoyed spending time in the lab. As a first year bachelor student I couldn’t wait four more years to start learning computational biology which is only taught in the final year of masters. Determined to find a way to enrol in classes from other faculties, I became the first student from the Faculty of Science who took bioinformatics class. Other than a bunch of algorithms for genome assembly and phylogenic tree construction, I learned something even more important: if you like something, do it and never be discouraged because no one did it before.

There is nothing more beautiful than sharing knowledge about particular topic of your interest with other people. I am grateful that my high-school biology teacher invited me to share the enthusiasm with high-school students interested in science. Our objective was to introduce bioinformatics in high-schools. With a bioinformatics workshop that I lead in 2017 became the first high-school in Croatia that provided their students with the possibility to learn basics of bioinformatics. This winter, it will be my fourth year mentoring a group of highly-motivated highschoolers.

When the time to enroll in the Computational module finally came, I was overwhelmed with new information, ways of thinking and loads of coding homework that often made me cry. Financially supporting myself during studies sometimes badly affected my grades. I was okay with it, but this time it just didn’t feel right to sit in the office of pharmaceutical company and report adverse effects instead of in-depth learning about statistics, machine learning and genomics.

Right after finishing my work in the company and passing last university exam, I went for an internship where I realised research is career that fits my personality. For the first time I had a chance to be a part of a real research project and work with the real-world data. Not only that I gained experience in data collection from public datasets, quality control, bias reduction and exploratory analysis, but also developed a pipeline for human and mouse bulk RNAseq data integration based on diagonalized Canonical Correlation Analysis. Having interesting results, I decided to write my Master thesis on the topic Classification of mouse breast tumors.

I crave stepping into the unknown and that’s how I ended up at the institute I currently work instead of pursuing a PhD in a group I already liked. The idea was to spend few months learning about different cultures while also doing a bit more of a research before PhD. My supervisor, who is not only a great breast cancer researcher, but also a role model and supporter of women in science, gave me the opportunity to analyze brand new methylation data from the project studying blood-based DNA methylation markers in breast cancer risk and prognosis. This is my first hand-on experience in cohort studies and, in my time here, I worked on developing a pipeline for quality control of methylation data and just started applying regression analysis to select potential disease-related methylation sites.

Next step is coming back to Europe to pursue a PhD. What I search for is a challenging journey that exceeds both my personal and general boundaries of scientific accomplishments. To me, equally important is having a supervisor who, not only is a great leader, but also knows how to fulfil their students' potential, teaching them to be top-quality researchers. What I can offer is advanced biological understanding and basic machine learning knowledge, commitment, hard work, and the enthusiasm to broaden my knowledge of mathematics and contribute to developing machine learning methods for use in biology. From the information currently available, I think this position would nicely fit my qualifications and interest in computational biology and diseases.

Thank you for taking time to read this application. I look forward to discus the position in greater details!

Getting or not getting the position, I learned the most important thing is being yourself and not loosing your true identity just to fit into something you admire.

All the best,


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That is great :)