Background:

I am in an administrative staff position, in a research compliance role, and frequently have to “cold” email professors I have never met or otherwise previously interacted with. In my institution almost all professors have MD degrees, so I typically address them as “Dr. X.” However there are a small number of professors with master’s degrees in areas of specialty that don’t offer doctorate-level degrees, and I am uncertain how to appropriately address these individuals.

My gut reaction is to address these individuals by their first name (as our institution’s culture considers first name acceptable for staff above you in the reporting chain), but to me this feels disrespectful when applied to faculty, especially considering the content of my messages are often directing them to do things (or stop doing things) they’d rather not. Conversely, calling them “professor” seems unusual to me since I am not enrolled at the institution. Finally, my school is very progressive, and I worry about (mis-)using gendered pronouns.

Question:

Am I worried about this unnecessarily? How should I address these professors when I can’t open by asking how they would like to be addressed?

I’m a PhD student in statistics in Europe, but I’m looking into the possibility of applying for jobs in academia in the US once I finish.

I am wondering what the job market looks like, generally speaking.

  • Is there a lot of competition for every position, or is it fairly “easy” to find a position somewhere?
  • How does the answer to the previous question change by type of position (tenure, assistant professor, lecturer, etc)?
  • How difficult is it for a European to get a position?

I know that the questions are very general, but it’d be very helpful to hear from anyone with experience from statistics departments.

I’m starting a doctorate focusing on artificial intelligence and network security, and have all of my technical classes paid for and organized. The schedule is currently forecasted at 60-ish hours a week of classes, grading, research, and other required activities. I feel this is reasonable.

However, I’d also like to take advantage of the expertise on campus and take piano lessons offered as credited classes by my school. These classes would be taught by the institute as graded classes but would not contribute in any way to my doctorate requirements or employment. They would be fully paid for by my scholarships, along with any other classes I’m taking.

On the plus side, I feel like learning something outside of my doctorate will make me a better rounded student, and music has always given me a safe, healthy outlet for stress and anxiety. And it seems like such a waste to pass up on free lessons from a professional when I’d be paying upwards of $1000 for lessons from a non-professional anyway.

However, I’m worried about attempting this for a couple reasons:

First, I’m worried that my adviser would see these extra hours as a signal that I’m not working to my maximum potential on his project. It’s one thing to have hobbies and outlets, it’s another to take extraneous classes that could be replaced with required ones.

Secondly, this could be an easy official scapegoat if anything goes wrong with my research. If I get a B in my required classes, it would be easy to say that the five hours a week in this class could have been used to study.

Finally, while the scholarship contract specifically says “all classes” are paid for, I’m worried it would be seen as unethical to ask the computer science department to pay for a class that has nothing to do with my doctorate.

I had a discussion with a colleague about paying to become a member out of our own pockets. His argument is that we have to support a society if we care about it.

I don’t understand the argument. The best way I can explain it is if we compare it to industry. You would not be asked to pay out of your own pocket to do the job you were hired for. Instead, your employer would have to pay it.

However, with respect to memberships in academia we are supposed to pay to do the job we were hired for (by the way, in my contract it says “give presentations in academic meetings”). It might be my experience in industry that makes me think this way, but again, I do not find it appropriate at all that we have to pay to do our jobs.

I asked around in my office and all (but me) frown upon academics that are not members of any society.

Why is there this discrepancy between academia and industry?

PS. I know in some cases one can use certain funds to pay for membership, I am not asking about that. I am asking that if you have the options of (1) not being a member or (2) pay it yourself, you are expected to pay it yourself.

White supremacist groups have been marching down in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the University of Virginia (article).

Does this also in some ways reflect on the university itself for allowing the march to happen (see the disturbing photos in the linked NY Times article) and for all the subsequent violence to occur?

People who have international graduate students or know them can someone (or themselves are) specifically tell me about this:

Is it common / something usual for them to sometimes go home for the summer? Like the entire summer?

Have you ever had cases where they did not do an internship on campus nor anything in the lab but went home for the entire summer? What do they usually do back home?

I have taken the GRE four times and got 148 Verbal, 157 Quantitative, and 3 on Writing.

By the way, English is not my first language. I am a foreigner that works in his home country. I want to do a PhD in the USA, but I can not get a descent GRE score.

Does these results say I am not fit to do a PhD?

I can not get good reference letters. I graduated from a developing country university which has no graduate programs and Faculty works part time. I did electrical engineering.

People who have international graduate students or know them can someone (or themselves are) specifically tell me about this:

Is it common / something usual for them to sometimes go home for the summer? Like the entire summer?

Have you ever had cases where they did not do an internship on campus nor anything in the lab but went home for the entire summer? What do they usually do back home?