Deciding between U Mich, U Wisconsin, UCLA, and U Washington for AMO/Quantum Information!

HannaGray
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed May 04, 2016 2:19 pm

Deciding between U Mich, U Wisconsin, UCLA, and U Washington for AMO/Quantum Information!

Postby HannaGray » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:15 pm

So far I've gotten into the schools in the title and I am having a hard time deciding. Although, if I end up hearing that I have gotten into Berkeley I will definitely be going there.

A bit of background -- I am currently working in the big quantum computing group at University of Maryland. I work in the ion-photon entanglement lab and I really like this kind of research. Back in high school, I came across the subject of entanglement in a pop-sci physics book I was reading and I thought it was so weird and interesting -- I cite this topic as one of the main factors that compelled me to pursue physics. Anyway, I really like trapped ions stuff.

So far, I have gotten offers from a PI at both University of Michigan and University of Washington for trapped ion research. I feel like Michigan is a better school and will look better if I try to stay in academia -- but their trapped ion group is really small. There is only one grad student and two undergraduates in their group right now (as listed on the website), and I really do not think I would thrive in such a small group, especially if I end up being the only grad student in the group in the future.

The offer from University of Washington is much more enticing -- the group is a good size and has a few other women in it (this is something I look for, I don't want to be the only woman in a group especially if it is a bigger group). I know for a fact that the PI is a pretty nice guy (graduate student in my current lab used to work for him as an undergrad and they still keep in touch, she has good things to say about him). I have other reasons to think this guy is a pretty good guy to work for.

UCLA has a trapped ion group I am reasonably certain I could get an RA with (but no women, and not sure if I'd like living there) and University of Wisconsin has a neutral atom group and I would love living in Madison (seriously beautiful campus and awesome college town) but I am not sure about the advisor.

ANYWAY! The point is, I don't really know how to compare the rankings of these schools. I feel like University of Washington is considered the least competitive of all my options but it's the school I am the most interested in. If University of Michigan is really that much better than University of Washington in AMO then I think I would probably go the University of Michigan and try to find a different AMO group (not trapped ions) to work in. Anyone have any thoughts on how these schools compare?

tooterfish
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon May 16, 2016 12:05 am

Re: Deciding between U Mich, U Wisconsin, UCLA, and U Washington for AMO/Quantum Information!

Postby tooterfish » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:46 pm

Tough call. U Michigan does carry more clout than the others. I'd probably categorize the others around the same rank in terms of prestige, all still rather strong. From your writing, it seems that cultural compatibility might matter a lot to you, though. It's going to be a personal choice in the end, so don't let the rankings lists skew your opinion, as difficult as that may be. I'm wrestling with similar choices, so I feel ya here.

Since your success in academia will largely be based on your efficacy as a researcher, I'd say your compatibility with your surroundings will matter a lot. Have you met the PI's and their team yet, or booked flights for the visiting weekends (going to Wash? I'll see you there)? Maybe reach out to their former students and see what they achieved post-PhD. You could ask your professors familiar with AMO/QI about these particular professors too.. i.e., how respect or influential are they in their fields? The perceived prestige of a school may not correspond with the prestige of its constituent professors after all.

anirekj
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:05 am

Re: Deciding between U Mich, U Wisconsin, UCLA, and U Washington for AMO/Quantum Information!

Postby anirekj » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:35 pm

Hey Hanna,
I also do AMO physics and I think we get emails from the same PI in UMich. I have similar concerns - the group is very small and has only one grad student currently. Not sure what to feel about it - maybe you'll get more attention from the PI? but you are also expected to get more work done?
I'm going to the open house though. I think I will only make decisions after meeting all these professors in person :oops:

maxwellsdemon
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:00 pm

Re: Deciding between U Mich, U Wisconsin, UCLA, and U Washington for AMO/Quantum Information!

Postby maxwellsdemon » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:13 pm

I'm in the same boat as you, although I have been waitlisted by Michigan and I didn't apply to UCLA. (& accepted at Wisconsin and Washington). And I also applied for AMO at each school. Michigan is probably my top choice out of those three, but perhaps Washington.
Anyways, I'd appreciate it if you let Michigan know your plan as soon as you know. It's hard waiting this long.




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