Finding potential advisors

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

saucylad
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Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 10:39 pm

Finding potential advisors

Postby saucylad » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:06 pm

I know in some disciplines, it's appropriate to contact people you would like to work with ahead of time to let them know you exist. Does this happen in physics?

More generally, how am I supposed to figure out who I want to work with? I mean, I can look at faculty websites and see what research they're working on, what they've published, etc., but I don't really understand enough of it to decide if it's something I'd like to get involved in.

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midwestphysics
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Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:37 am

Re: Finding potential advisors

Postby midwestphysics » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:06 pm

This is something that is often debated, whether or not to contact profs beforehand. In any case however, many profs don't return emails, mostly because they all boarder on or are suck emails. Some others will respond with something along the lines that they would be interested in talking to you once you've been admitted. Others are more than happy to talk, but that's not overly common and it can all depend on the schedule of the prof. In general my stance is that if you have met/saw/listened to them somewhere, have related research that can give real detail to your message, or have a prof you know who knows them and can set you up then maybe it's worth it to contact them. If not, I personally wouldn't bother because I don't see much good coming from the exchange. If I want to get a feel for someone's group/research I'd rather email and talk to their grad students who are usually more receptive and have a first hand perspective on what you're looking at.

bfollinprm
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Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Finding potential advisors

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:31 am

saucylad wrote:I know in some disciplines, it's appropriate to contact people you would like to work with ahead of time to let them know you exist. Does this happen in physics?

More generally, how am I supposed to figure out who I want to work with? I mean, I can look at faculty websites and see what research they're working on, what they've published, etc., but I don't really understand enough of it to decide if it's something I'd like to get involved in.


If you don't have enough experience to understand the research, you shouldn't worry about trying to find an advisor until you get to school. They will want you to work on your quals first anyway.

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InquilineKea
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Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:07 pm

Re: Finding potential advisors

Postby InquilineKea » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:23 pm

I know in some disciplines, it's appropriate to contact people you would like to work with ahead of time to let them know you exist. Does this happen in physics?


Which disciplines were you thinking of?

I'm getting very excellent responses from the planetary scientists I'm e-mailing (at nearly 100% response rates too). Although I'm usually asking them "do you have positions" as the last question among a list of other research-related questions.

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Andromeda
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Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:17 pm

Re: Finding potential advisors

Postby Andromeda » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:52 pm

I wrote around and think it's a good idea. Firstly, often it's worth just asking if a group might have an opening for the next year funding-wise because if they don't think they will they just won't accept people of your interest. Worth checking if it's a smaller department/ if you already know there are only one or two groups that might interest you.




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