GRExit: Why We’re Dropping the GRE

The Science Commons Atrium in Emory’s Atwood Chemistry Center.

What is GRExit? A silly term for a big decision. Starting in Fall 2019, Emory’s Department of Chemistry is joining the “GRExit” wave by dropping the GRE test from our graduate application process.

The GRE (or “Graduate Record Exam”) administered by the Educational Testing Service has been a factor in graduate school admissions since the 1950s. At Emory, we have long required the test as one piece of a package intended to allow us to gauge how well students might do in our program. We are committed to the practice of whole file review, meaning we review all of the materials a student submits instead of using any one factor to “weed out” students from our applicant pool. In the past, we relied on this practice to mitigate any outsize impact on GRE scores. However, we were still faced with interpreting scores as a piece of the puzzle….and over time, our graduate committee found that it was very hard to look past particularly high or low scores as they reviewed the remainder of a file.

Added to that impression, we had access to data on students who accept our admissions offer and matriculate. We haven’t found the GRE to be a very good indicator for student success in the first year of our program. Our sample size is small compared to the large number of students who take the test, but there is more research out there that we can rely on. For instance, consider the following:

Research has also consistently shown that the GRE introduces bias into the review process, disadvantaging women, minorities, and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Some references of note:

We are very concerned about minimizing bias in our admissions process. Our entire graduate admissions team undergoes training about the role of implicit bias in their day-to-day life (a program that draws heavily on the book Blindspot.) We have also piloted the use of a shared evaluation form to help faculty review applications with the same questions in mind. And we are always considering new ways to minimize bias in our review process. With issues of efficacy, predictive value, and bias in mind, removing the GRE from our process seemed like the right path. It’s a decision we may revisit if new research or testing options make the GRE more useful. But for now, we are confident that “GRExit” is the way to go.

What does this mean for you as an applicant? Simply put, you do not have to take the GRE to apply to the Emory chemistry graduate program. We will still practice whole file review – we look forward to reading your personal statements, seeing your faculty of interest selections, and hearing the perspective of your recommenders. We also love when students submit the optional video statement!

Because we are committed to this path, we will not be accepting test scores in the application even if you want to report them. If we receive scores from some students but not from others, we reintroduce potential biases from this test, particularly as we suspect that students are understandably more likely to submit high scores. We will carefully review all of the information that we do request and feel confident in our ability to make a thorough review of each application without the assistance of GRE scores.

As another tangible benefit, we hope this will lessen the financial burden of the application process. You do not need to pay to send your scores to Emory, to take test prep classes or buy test prep books, or to sit the test itself.

What do you think about GRExit? Does it make you more or less likely to apply to Emory? Are you planning to take the GRE for other applications? Are you happy to skip it?

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Please feel free to share your comments and, as always, to contact our program if you have any questions.

Planning to apply? Visit chemistry.emory.edu/apply. Applications open September 1st, 2018 and are due by December 1st, 2018 for entry in Fall 2019.

Want to learn more about chemistry @ Emory? Fill out an inquiry form to join our mailing list!

How to Respond to an Offer of Admission to the PhD Program in Chemistry

Students shake hands at a Recruitment Weekend poster session.
Students shake hands at a Recruitment Weekend poster session.

If you received a 2018 offer to join our PhD program, congratulations!

Emory University’s Laney Graduate School is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools and we do not require any student to respond to an offer of admission prior to April 15th. However, we would love to hear from you as soon as you know your decision!

To officially accept an offer of admission, you should log in to CollegeNET and follow these instructions.

If you have questions–about your offer, the program, or anything else–please feel free to contact us at gradchem [at] emory [dot] edu.

10 Great Things About the Emory Chemistry PhD Program

Curious to learn more about the Chemistry PhD Program here at Emory? Look no further! From research and resources to community and collaboration, Emory provides the perfect environment for cultivating ideas and inspiring innovation. Here, we have provided a comprehensive list to highlight some of the wonderful attributes that our university has to offer its graduate students.

1. Diverse Research Opportunities

The research opportunities within the Emory Department of Chemistry are far from limited, with over 20 research groups exploring topics ranging from catalysis to sustainable energy. Our research groups span the four major subdisciplines—inorganic, organic, biomolecular, and physical chemistry—providing graduate students the opportunity to pursue research in a variety of topics.

2. Size of Program

The chemistry PhD program at Emory is considered to be a mid-sized program. A program of this size, with 141 graduate students, 21 research groups, and 15 full-time staff members, is large enough to span most areas of chemistry, but small enough to facilitate effortless intradepartmental relationships. Graduate students in this scientific community find themselves surrounded by like-minded individuals and a supportive faculty providing a personalized and productive research environment.

3. Funding

With $11.7 million in research funding in the 2017 fiscal year, the research endeavors in the Emory Department of Chemistry are well-funded. External financial support affords our program high-end technologies, top of the line equipment, and all necessary laboratory resources.

4. Resources

As mentioned above, Emory is fortunate to be equipped with the latest and greatest instrumentation. With the Mass Spectrometry Center, the Solid-State NMR Center, the Robert P. Apkarian Integrated Electron Microscopy Core, the NMR Research Center, and the X-ray Crystallography Center, chemists in our department have access to an arsenal of state of the art equipment for all their scientific inquiries.

5. Collaboration Opportunities

Motivated by the idea that the best teaching and research happens in the context of a scientific community, everything from building design to department events are poised to promote collaboration. Graduate students in the chemistry department can connect with other researchers across the campus through seminars and courses and across the world through study abroad opportunities.

6. Support

Students in the department can find themselves armed with support throughout the duration of their graduate career. New students are paired with a senior graduate student at the start of their studies for mentorship and their progress is measured with yearly checkpoints. In addition, every new graduate student is automatically inducted into the social and service organization, Pi Alpha Chemical Society, where they will have the opportunity to strengthen relations with other graduate students in the program.

7. Future Careers

Graduate students from our department are uniquely equipped with the skills and training to be successful in a multitude of future careers. Some graduate students have gone on to hold faculty positions in colleges and universities across the country, while others hold positions in industry at companies such as DuPont or Pfizer. Our graduates are not limited to research-driven careers, with many branching out into law, medical practice, tech start-ups, government, science writing, or teaching. Strong alumni connections provide current students with networking opportunities and career resources.

8. Amazing Building

The heart of the program is centered in the beautiful, recently-renovated Sanford S. Atwood Chemistry Center on Emory’s main campus. With plenty of lab space, a glass-fronted atrium, numerous collaborative spaces, and an aroma-filled coffee shop, the Atwood Chemistry Center provides the perfect arena for innovation and discovery.

9. Beautiful Campus

Our main campus has been ranked by The Best Colleges as one of the top ten “most amazing college campuses”, ranking number 8 on the most beautiful campus list. Located in the magnificent Druid Hills neighborhood, the 630-acre campus features unique marble architecture amongst splendid trees and lush greenery.

10. Awesome City

Emory is situated in northeastern Atlanta, a city bursting with culture. The city, the capital and most populous city in Georgia, is home to Zoo Atlanta, the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and countless parks and museums. Atlanta takes pride in its dynamic culture, diverse cuisine, and southern hospitality, with no shortage of experiences for its tourists and residents.

Interested in learning more about our graduate program? Refer to our website or contact us at gradchem [at] emory [dot] edu.

Photo Gallery: ChEmory Visits the Georgia Bureau of Investigation

 

ChEmory students visited the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday, October 26th. Asma Syed (EC ’19) provided the following report:

The forensics tour was a success: very informative, and great for recent Emory graduates majoring in chemistry looking for a job right out of college or just for people (like myself) really interested in learning more about the forensic sciences!

We were given a tour of the Division of Forensic Science where we learned about the most common illegal substances used in the Atlanta area. We were shown impressive sequencing machines, areas where TLC techniques were performed, and we learned about gas chromatography-mass spectrometry machines. We learned about the process involved with testing materials to determine the substance composition, the purity, and the age. We also learned a lot about the job application process and the training required to be a field agent. My personal favorite part of the tour was getting to see a recent case: we passed by a room with 2000 pounds of marijuana in bags that was being analyzed for prosecution purposes. 

Welcome, Nate Jui and Eilaf Ahmed!

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to welcome Nate Jui and Eilaf Ahmed to our faculty!

Nathan Jui
Nathan Jui

Nathan Jui completed his terminal degree in chemistry at Princeton University (2011). Prior to joining the faculty at Emory in 2014, Jui was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to developing valuable chemical methods, Jui’s primary research focus is applying the power of synthetic chemistry to the study and treatment of cancer. His articles have been published in a number of leading journals including Science, Organic Letters, Chemical Communications, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Eilaf Ahmed
Eilaf Ahmed

Eilaf Ahmed completed her terminal degree in chemistry at the University of Washington (2011). Prior to joining the faculty at Emory in 2014, Ahmed was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ahmed’s research seeks to integrate creative tools from synthetic organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and biology to develop novel, functional, and well-defined macromolecular structures, with a particular interest in the molecular design and synthesis of organic materials with interesting electronic and photonics properties, elucidation of structure-property relationships and factors that guide their self-assembly to address fundamental scientific challenges in applications ranging form biological imaging, early diagnostics, and delivery of therapeutics, to photovoltaics and magneto-electronic and optoelectronic devices. Her articles have been published in a number of leading journals including Advanced Materials, Chemistry of Materials, Macromolecules, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Telling Your Science Story

Ari Daniel

Last Thursday, over twenty Emory undergrads, grads, and postdocs attended a workshop in science communication hosted by NPR contributor Ari Daniel. Students listened to clips from science-related stories and learned to tell stories about their own research. The “Telling Your Science Story” workshop was organized by Meisa Salaita and Monya Ruffin and sponsored by the Preparing Future Innovators speaker series, a collaboration between Georgia Tech and Emory. The workshop was also supported by the Center for Chemical Evolution.

Chemistry Students Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Three  students  received NSF awards in the 2014 cycle–congratulations to Carolyn Cohen, an undergraduate major, and to Wallace Derricotte and Keon Reid, Department of Chemistry graduate students. Alum Kelly Burke who completed undergraduate research in the Dyer Group and now attends CalTech also received a 2014 award.

An Armenian Forest Preserves the Memory of Emory’s Robert Apkarian

Robert Apkarian, who ran the IM & MF Center here, died in a traffic accident on Tuesday, February 28, 2006. The Apkarian family and all Rob’s numerous friends made donations to the Armenia Tree Project in his memory. Today, an Armenian forest seeded from these donations preserves his memory. Emory is also proud to remember Dr. Apkarian in the naming of the Robert P. Apkarian Integrated Electron Microcopy Center.

[Obituary]