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My lab:
For a few weeks now I've been advertising for a graduate student position working on the neurobiology of spontaneous behavior. The model system is the fruit fly Drosophila. Basically, the project is to record behavior from mutant and transgenic animals and then use some math and computers to analyze and evaluate the behavioral data. I've tried to have my job ad reflect the requirements: neuroscience, genetics and math/computer science. Moreover, I've specified that I want a 500 word letter explaining what drove the applicant to apply for this project.
However, the majority (by a wide margin) of applications I get are boilerplate applications from all fields with no regard to the project nor the content of the job ad. Sadly, I have to report that the majority of these applications is from India - about 40 or so thus far, by my guesstimate. For crying out loud, I even get horticulturalists and other botanists sending boilerplate applications to that position! The other day, I get what to me, for some weird reason, just took the cake. The person managed to disqualify her-/himself already in the first three sentences:
*Respected sir, *

* *

I am [some name], completed Master degree in Biotechnology in the year
2008. I am very much interested to do PhD in the field of Biology and my
ultimate ambition is to get Noble Prize in the same field with some
innovative results.
Each part of this little piece is already disqualifying the applicant: no name in the address, no matching degree and an absolutely mind-numbing motivation. Nevermind that there is no Nobel Prize in Biology - why would one ever think that an employer would see such an ambition as something positive? Who would ever dream of wanting a vain brat in his/her lab who's only in it for fame? The capacity of revealing such a lack of scientific suitability in a single sentence just blew me away. I guess, one could say that at least it was an honest application. Which, in this case, may not really be such a compliment, either.
I'm sure that India is producing so many graduates that by sheer volume alone the number of outstanding applicants from there will be huge - and indeed two of the best candidates so far are also from India. However, the number of outstandingly inane applications is staggering, it threatens to bury the good candidates' applications.
Posted on Friday 04 September 2009 - 18:45:48 comment: 0

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