How to write an interesting personal statement whilst avoiding cliches and trite anecdotes?

Thanks! To clarify, a specific professor nominated me for this scholarship and I'm continuing in that same program.

Over the course of my journey to postgraduate studies, I have come to realize that chemistry has long defined my fascination with the natural world. Since beginning my undergraduate education at XXXXX, my understanding of biological phenomena has evolved to embrace the chemistry that fundamentally underpins them. In the post-genome era, chemical techniques have afforded important tools to both investigate and manipulate biological systems – tasks only conquerable by multidisciplinary approaches cultivated in the field of chemical biology. My experience as a researcher has been consistently balanced at the interface of chemistry and biology, significantly enriching my insight into both disciplines in the context of drug discovery and disease research. My affinity for multidisciplinary research and desire to master the application of chemistry in tackling biological problems have thus driven me to pursue a PhD in Chemical Biology.

During my first year of undergraduate studies, I immediately sought opportunities to undertake independent research. My journey began in the labs of Prof. XXX and Prof. XXX at XXX, where I optimized a novel platform for investigating cancer cell metabolism in response to chemotherapeutic agents using RNAi and phenotype microarray technology. Not only did I develop a diverse skill set in cell biology and biochemistry, but it was also through this formative research experience that I began to understand the complementarity of chemical and biological approaches to drug discovery, with this project ultimately leading to identification of interacting gene-pairs that can inform the development of chemotherapeutic agents.

Drawing on my excitement for multidisciplinary research, I embarked on various drug discovery and development projects, including the design of a bacterial SOS-response detector as an antibiotic screening strategy using synthetic biology. In my third year, I was awarded an extended XXX Research award as well as a highly competitive Summer Research grant, to work with Prof. XXX at XXX. There, I was involved in the development and testing of CpG (cytosine–phosphate–guanine) oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) as stimulators of innate immunity in Alzheimer’s Disease research. I worked in various aspects of late-stage drug development and testing, obtaining notable experience in pre-clinical trial design and translational research to further elucidate CpG ODN activity in vivo. Through this work, we have shown that CpG ODNs significantly ameliorate amyloid pathology, demonstrating the notable potential of this therapeutic strategy.

This array of research experiences solidified my interest in pursuing a PhD, but it was through my undergraduate Honors thesis research that I became completely engrossed with the field of chemical biology. For my thesis, I sought to hone my experience as a multidisciplinary researcher by constructing a project that merged my established interests in cancer and amyloid disease, whilst employing techniques that lie at the cross-section of chemistry and biology. Over a rigorous two-year research project with Prof. XXX and Prof. XXX, one of the world’s leading chemical biologists, I demonstrated that XXX formation is the basis for XXX oncogenic gain-of-function, a potentially paradigm-shifting discovery in cancer research. From this, I designed peptide-based inhibitors that abrogate XXX, serving as the basis for potential therapeutic approaches. Most excitingly, I discovered that novel XXX developed with the XXX lab, which have previously been shown to inhibit XXX in Alzheimer's models, also inhibit XXX and restore tumor suppressor function in pancreatic carcinoma, elegantly demonstrating the efficacy of using functionalized XXX inhibitors as XXX cancer therapeutics. These promising compounds are currently being tested in in vivo models through a National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded collaboration with Prof. XXX at the XXX as a result of my findings. Notably, this ambitious Honors thesis was among the highest achieving natural science projects in the history of XXX, which received the highest marks in my year and award for Best XXX Presentation. I was then granted a prestigious postgraduate training fellowship to continue this work after my graduation, and I continue to lead a small team at XXX for the further testing and development of these compounds. We expect to publish these findings in the coming year, where I will be lead author.

Despite a lapse in my academic performance during my second year due to extenuating circumstances involving a XXX, I still maintained above-average academic performance during my time at XXX. Relevantly, the entirety of my coursework was taken at the Honors level, and I have demonstrated exemplary performance in graduate-level courses at XXX. I strongly believe that my ability to persevere through such hardship to achieve academic and research-based success is indicative of my competence and eagerness to pursue postgraduate studies.

Now in my Masters year in XXX at XXX, I continue to witness firsthand how chemistry is used in tight conjunction with biological research. My experience working in the XXX lab has granted me a nuanced understanding of how chemistry can be utilized as a tool for probing complex systems, ultimately allowing for the translation of biological phenomena into novel therapeutics. From the synthesis of photo-protected ligands in the development of fragment screening approaches to investigating novel chemical proteomic methodologies, my chemical toolbox has greatly expanded over the course of just a few short months. The richness of my research experience thus far at XXX has both compelled and prepared me to continue my journey in chemical biology with the XXX group to further my skills in both chemistry and biology, enabling me to become an independent researcher in an exciting and inherently multidisciplinary field.

My journey to chemical biology and postgraduate studies has been filled with fervor and excitement for conducting impactful research; I am confident that I possess the qualities required to excel as a PhD student, and to make the very most of the opportunities offered by the XXX Scholarship.

/r/GradSchool Thread Parent