I visited a grad school and the professor told me my research that I was doing wasn't very interesting and I'd have a hard time being competitive (I'm doing computational work and essentially doing the grunt work so people can see the similarities/differences between molecules. One use is so drug researchers can find alternative molecules that are cheaper or safer to use, but there are a bunch others). I dont know, it just really wrecked my confidence I'll ever be accepted somewhere.
It was so bad he didnt even bother talking about the school or the program, just backup plans for if I don’t get accepted so that my resume would be stronger for the next year.
Being competitive is a moving target that really depends on the school and program. When I was interviewing for grad school I literally had a professor tell me that he didn’t believe my work. He wasn’t even in my field. So, sometimes professors just don’t like a certain type of work/understand what goes into certain types of research. Luckily, grad programs have selection committees and not just one random dude.
I think you can probably spin your work in your applications in a way that makes it seem more like an independent project that what you’ve described here. You can sell it as like “developing computational tools for high throughput drug screening” or something sexy sounding like that. Half of the applications are just how well you sell yourself. Talk up things like working independently and learning complex computational programs and stuff like that.
And also, everyone needs computational people who know how to code. It sounds like you have a valuable skill set and it’s probably likely that it will appeal to someone.
But also, you might not get in anywhere this time around and that’s okay. Spending a year or two getting more, varied experiences isn’t a bad thing. Lots of people don’t get in right away, because PhD programs are competitive and selection committees are fickle. Try to remember that it’s not an indictment of you personally or even of your work. Rejection sucks, but it won’t make your work any less valuable and it won’t make you, as a person, any less valuable.