Science Track: BS/MS in the US & PhD in Europe - Dr. Rana Edwards

Updated: Jun 15, 2020


Hometown: Alexandria, Egypt

Bachelor’s: Pharmacology - Stony Brook University, NY (2011)

Masters: Pharmaceutical Sciences (Medicinal Chemistry) – St. John’s University, NY (2015)

PhD: European Doctorate in Organic Chemistry (Nanomedicine) – University of Milan (2019)

Current Profession: Co-Founder - Technology based F&B Start-up.

TL;DR: Dr. Rana Edwards grew up in Alexandria, she co-founded a F&B start-up in Milan. She earned her Bachelor's in Pharmacology at Stony Brook University, her Masters from St. John's University. She also received a European PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Milan.


Rana, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?


Growing up I was exposed to an environment that emphasized value in scientific fields. I did not necessarily aspire to study abroad at a younger age but ended up unexpectedly immigrating to the US with my family. I have always treated education as an adventure, with flexibility and open-mindedness. The Education Privilege is a lot more than a path for a permanent stable job, it’s an endless journey of curiosity, chaos, ups and downs, skill sharpening, and personal development.


Let’s go back in time a little. When did you first consider applying to undergraduate school in the U.S.?


I was introduced to the process of University Applications through the High School “College counseling office” in the States. In the last year of Highschool I started processing applications and taking entry-exams (SATs and SAT subjects: Chemistry - required in some science-based programs), which was very last minute and unrecommended. The advice is to always start the University applications process the latest by Junior Year (2 years before graduation). I took SATs twice, prepared my personal statement, got recommendation letters from career Counselor/Teachers, and submitted the applications (Direct submission – individual University Websites). I was aiming for pre-medical, pre-pharmacy, or pre-PhD track (see Prerequisites below). Finally, I got accepted into 2 out of 5 Universities and decided to pursue a research-based bachelor’s degree in Pharmacology at Stony Brook University, NY.

What are the prerequisites for doctoral fields in the U.S.?


To better clarify, in the US, medical, dental, pharmacy, physical therapy, and other doctoral fields require the completion of an undergraduate degree with specific pre-track coursework (see the links below) before the second round of applications to the desired doctoral field. At this point the undergraduate GPA, corresponding standardized exam score (MCAT, PCAT, DAT, GRE), and overall application (strong recommendation letters, research experience, volunteer work, community service, leadership track) all factor into the application process. The websites below are the official and best references for requirements, free exam samples, and information.

Medical School: here

Dental School: here

Pharmacy School: here

Physical Therapy: here

Graduate School (Master’s and PhDs): here

How did you decide on your major/career?


One aspect that is highly emphasized in High Schools and universities in the US is career evaluation. Two valuable tools that I found to be highly effective in evaluating lifelong career decisions were:


1) Career tests here

2) Shadowing (to observe the work setting without participating), volunteering, or having conversation