So I intend to start grad school this fall in Physics. I did two research projects as an undergrad but they were both related to research area X of Physics. I intend to apply for the NSF GRFP fellowship program for this upcoming fall. I heard that it helps alot if you write about how your prior research experience fits in with your proposal. However, if I actually win the GRFP (or another fellowship, ie NDSEG) then I may want to switch to research area Y of Physics. I know its common to switch research areas like this after winning the GRFP but theres a few things that concern me
I only did 2 research projects as an undergrad. For grad school apps, that 3rd LOR came from a prof I took a class with. I am hoping now to get the 3rd LOR from a prof who I do research with. I should get that 3rd LOR from a prof who does research in X, not Y, right? But wouldn't I be burning bridges and pissing off the profs in research area X (whether I work for them as an RA or TA) if I left them to do Y after winning the GRFP? Or after winning the GRFP, should I continue to do research in X for a little longer (maybe a semester?) before deciding whether I want to stay in X or move to Y?
I was planning on writing my proposal to be related to one of the research projects I worked on as an undergrad, not on a research project I could get from a prof in X at my upcoming school.
Another reason why I thought this situation was tricky is because research Y is actually housed in another department (I won't say here, but to give you an idea, it could be Opticks, EE, Chem, etc). I actually applied to both the Physics dept and dept Y, but was rejected from Y. The Physics dept wont fund its Physics students to do research in Y unless dept Y offers them funding or I get outside funding (ie GRFP)