I graduated this semester and plan to apply to PhD programs this fall. I had also planned to apply for the NSF GRFP – however, there’s a new rule now which states that students can only apply once. Given this new rule, should I apply for the fellowship this fall or is it better to wait until I land in a PhD program first? I have heard that if applying while in a PhD program, you will get a tougher evaluation by the panelists because you are considered more experienced in the field. OTOH, I worry that my current research, up until the end of this summer, may not be enough work to write a perfect research proposal.

What should a faculty supervisor do about a PhD student who does not seem to be trying to make their work better? Let’s assume the supervisor has given detailed and specific instructions, which the student agrees to follow. But the student either does not finish the instructions or includes many errors. The supervisor points out the errors. This process has been repeated for several years, affecting both the student’s research and job search. The student is from a different country, and has not adjusted to academic communication practices, despite being aware of the need to do so. The student has done a lot of things, but continues to have poor quality execution and pace.

Typically the supervisor does not wish to kick students out of the group. What is the right course of action?

I am done with my MS in EECS from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and I currently working full time in a good company on OPT.

I will be defending my MS Thesis in coming December. Moreover, when I contacted one of the well-renowned Professors in my department he expressed his interest in taking me as PhD student depending if his funding is approved in next few months.

Here is the issue:

My overall GPA is 3.43 and my core GP is 3.5. I had already mentioned this to the Professor, and I straight away told that after working hard I am just a solid B+ student that too when I study with friends.
I sent my transcript to him thinking he would turn me down based on my GPA, but he did not.

My question is: I don’t have issues with quitting the well-paying job for the PhD program. But what scares me is the oral qualifying exam. If I don’t make through the exam, and they decide to kick me out, I have no options. I will no longer be enrolled in the PhD program, and cannot go back to the industry as I have used up my OPT.

My future goal is to join academia, but if I don’t pass the qualifying exam, I will put my family and me in immigration issues. So, least I can do is to work in industry and give up on joining Ph.D. At least I will not put my family at HUGE risk of getting kicked out of the US after spending so much on MS program.

Please advise. The reason I ask this question is that one must aware his limitations. When I compare myself with fellow PhD classmates, they way better than me in course work. I have never met any classmate in my graduate school who are less smarter than me.

Here is a summary of Grad courses in core subjects:

  1. Solid state: B+
  2. Quantum I- B+
  3. Semiconductor optoelctronics: A-
  4. Quantum II- A- (Prof. was too generous I guess, but I was amongst the last in my class)
  5. Quantum information: A
  6. Classical optics: B

Also, I request any faculty out there to please let me know how do I deal with this complicated situation.

I will be graduating with a degree in Software Engineering. I have a 4.0 GPA at this institution (not counting the 3.85 GPA I transferred in with). The institution is awarding me Outstanding Scholar for my degree program/campus/year.

I am seriously considering not walking in graduation. Being on stage in front of people is not my definition of celebration, and I am not a fan of tradition unless there is a logical reason behind it. (I’m an INTJ personality type.)

For the outstanding scholar award, they will be giving me a certificate and honor cords at an awards banquet that is before graduation. Does that imply they expect me to walk? Is it an insult to not do so when they are giving me an award?

Edit: Actual diplomas will be mailed sometime after the ceremony in the summer. The ceremony doesn’t cost anything to be a part of (other than the cost of getting a degree :). There are about 20 people graduating this year in my major. I have a sister graduating the same day in a city 8 hours away (and only an hour from home), so most parents/relatives will be at the other graduation anyway. As an alternative to the ceremony, I am thinking of writing thank you cards to the teachers and mentors who were influential in helping me get to this point.

In my school sometimes the graduate students have to give a talk on what they are up to, i.e. present their ongoing research. Often at this stage the work is not published yet. This is an internal event within the school, within the department. The audience are mainly other graduate students, and professors.

Are there any tips to give such a talk? More specifically, how to reduce the risk (if any) of getting scooped, and ideas stolen? The context is in the subject of mathematics/ mathematical sciences.

Thanks a lot.

I have a situation that is probably quite standard, but I don’t know the right way to act.

For several months I was looking for a postdoc job in computational neuroscience (probably exact field is not that important for the question but just in case) worldwide.

A couple of months ago a quite famous professor from a distant country (Japan) after a Skype interview told me that he is interested in me but he won’t take the final decision until I give a job talk at his institution A. However he was busy for some time after our interview, so his institution bought me a airtickets (quite expensive ones) for a date after about two months. I have promised to inform him if I have other job offers.

Later I have actually received two other job offers from institutions B and C (both from USA), and I like one of them. So I said “yes” to the offer from B and they started to do the paperwork although they told me it should take a week or two for them to prepare an official appointment letter.

Here comes the problem: I was told by my colleagues that I should not turn down the job talk invitation from A and another offer from C, before I get the paperwork with B finished. However it is likely to be finished after I have to go the interview to that distant institution A. I have told the distant professor that I got an offer from B and that I put it on hold (at that time I did not finish making a decision yet). Later I realized that even if A professor makes an offer for me, I the offer from B is better, but I did not tell it to A yet. Professor from C also wants me to answer as soon as possible and wants me to discuss future projects.

So if I tell “no” to A and C now, there is a possibility that the paperwork process with B hangs for some reason (for example suddenly they may receive a better application from somebody else during these weeks) and I will be in an awkward situation. If I keep waiting for the paperwork in B to be finished, I would have to lie to A and C, and I would waste A’s money on my ticket (though I would be happy to come to A and give the talk in any case, on my side), which is probably a not very scientifically moral thing to do.

Maybe I am wrong in being suspicious towards institution B, but I got an impression that postdoc position market in the US is very tough and everything might potentially happen and I do consider that it is a big luck for me to have an offer from B, as it is a quite famous place and I think there should be people with stronger CV’s than mine, who might be interested in this position, announced publicly.

Could you please advise me, what would be the more academically correct way for me to act?

Some context: I will be starting a Ph.D. program in mathematics this fall (a 5 year, U.S. program), and I have a wide array of research interests. In the majority of these areas, I have a (relatively) broad conceptual knowledge, and a few ideas for potential research projects, but I don’t think that I have a deep enough understanding to meaningfully contribute by myself (i.e. write publishable papers).

For example, I have developed a type theory that I believe is interesting for both philosophical and technical reasons, and I have a general idea of how I might go about proving the (relative) consistency of this type theory, but I think that given my lack of experience in the field, I will probably need significant guidance to go about proving such a result. This brings me to my question: How should I go about seeking (and attracting!) potential collaborators for such a project given my lack of experience in the field?

One other issue that I should mention is that most of these projects are relatively far outside the faculty/student’s areas of expertise at my university, so I don’t think these projects (like the type theory example given above) would be reasonable for my dissertation, or more generally collaboration with my peers/the faculty at the university I will be attending.

Should I put projects like these on hold until I finish graduate school, make more connections, and have more academic freedom, or is it worth it to try to reach out to academics who might be interested through e-mail/conferences and try to convince them to co-author papers/collaborate with me? I’d appreciate any input on how to best approach this dilemma, but some things I’ve already thought of are:

  1. Type up a short analysis of the literature to ensure potential collaborators that I’ve done my research, and give an argument of why this research might be significant.

  2. Correspond with potential collaborators via e-mail with more pointed questions relating to the potential research question before formally asking if they would like to co-author a paper/collaborate.

Any other input along those lines I think would be helpful, but I think I’d also like to get some context on how my position might fit into the general academic etiquette of the mathematical community, and how someone in my situation might best approach different researchers as a newcomer to the research community.

Thanks in advance for any responses!

I’m going to work on a project that involves decentralized article publication. However, peer review would still be a problem. One way to overcome this is by letting authors publish on their journal of choice and then submitting it to the decentralized library.

I’m not familiar with the specifics of paywalls and right to monetize from sharing the article. Any previous experience or references are appreciated.