working with a supervisor 70+ years old, too risky?

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hermitw
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:11 am

working with a supervisor 70+ years old, too risky?

Postby hermitw » Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:24 pm

Hi guys,

Would it be too dangerous to have a supervisor who is very famous but more than 70 years old? Here is my analysis:

pros:
1, they are more established, even Noble Laureates, everyone in the field knows him
2, maybe they have more time to discuss with you? (not sure)

cons:
1, they are not that active in research. Their recently publication are not that productive than the younger big guys. Thus your publication may not be that productive than those working younger big guys.
2, their health condition may be a problem. You may have to change to another supervisor in the middle of your program (I know one guy did this). Even if you successful finished the phd under him, when you come to look for faculty position, he may not be able to help you. (At the beginning of career, a lot of young AP still need to collaborate their supervisors .)
3, the group size maybe too small, maybe inter group collaboration would be limited.

What do you guys think?

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midwestphysics
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:37 am

Re: working with a supervisor 70+ years old, too risky?

Postby midwestphysics » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:04 pm

I've always avoided the famous and/or old possibly emeritus professors like the plague. Don't get me wrong exceptions could be made, if Newton were alive and wanted me on his team I wouldn't say no. However, with everyone else these famous old professors have already made their marks, their groups often too big for my liking, and not to mention the last thing I need is their retirement or death to handle. Granted that could happen anyways, but still give me a younger hungrier professor who has good ideas, passion, and an actual personal investment not only in his research but also those busting their butts toward the same goal. Fame is overrated if you ask me anyway, work to make your own mark with up and comers. The famous work of someone else was before you and while there are benefits to having them on your side it's not like their name with solve all your problems, at times it may even create more. In the end though it really should come down to the value and interest in the particular work their doing, go with whoever offers you the opportunity you want.

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: working with a supervisor 70+ years old, too risky?

Postby TakeruK » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:51 pm

midwestphysics brings up a good point about fame/well-known name -- that is, in my experience, most people don't get famous without making a few enemies along the way. I would probably not recommend working solely with an emeritus/very old professor on your thesis. I'm not sure that being older means more time to meet with students either. But this might not be a huge problem -- in some groups/labs, you will probably spend more time working more directly with someone else, and have the senior prof just supervisor everything. Depending on your style, this could be good or bad for you!

Also, it could be a good idea to have a jointly supervised project between a younger prof and the senior prof. Then you can benefit from both! If you do this, it might be better to be primarily supervised by the younger person but work it out with them so that you would collaborate with the senior prof.

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Raio
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Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 1:09 am

Re: working with a supervisor 70+ years old, too risky?

Postby Raio » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:27 pm

Yup, have the same issue, I will graduate in 3 years, and the school i'm targeting is known for a very narrow field, and the professor who works there is already 72 years old.

hermitw
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:11 am

Re: working with a supervisor 70+ years old, too risky?

Postby hermitw » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:23 pm

Raio wrote:Yup, have the same issue, I will graduate in 3 years, and the school i'm targeting is known for a very narrow field, and the professor who works there is already 72 years old.

3 years for a phd?




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