You are here

Faculty Advisor

When entering the program you will be assigned a preliminary advisor.  You are welcome to change your preliminary advisor if you find a better fit with a different faculty member.  If all agree to the change, email to formally request the change.

To change your faculty advisor email cc'ing your preliminary advisor, proposed new advisor and the Math GPC ( to request this change. Your new advisor should reply confirming they agree to the change. 

Advice for Graduate Students on Finding a Faculty Advisor

Once you complete your core course requirement, it is time to start thinking about your writing milestone and about finding an advisor. The process of finding an advisor can be difficult, since there are many factors that need to be considered. Below are some tips that may help you through this process, based on a Career Transitions talk given by Sara Billey.

  1. Make a list of possible advisors (right now!). A list of some of the professors in the department and their fields of research is included below to help you with this first step. While doing so, ask yourself the following questions.
    • What fields are you interested in?
    • Who specializes in these areas?
    • What other fields of math are related?
    • Which professors work in these areas?

  2. Do some research on your prospective advisors.
    • Take a class with one of the professors you wrote down in step 1. Go to their office hours.
    • Ask them to do a reading course. If you don’t know what to read, ask them if they have any good books in mind.
    • Go to their website and look at their papers. Look them up on Mathscinet, arXiv, and/or Google Scholar.
    • Set up a meeting with the professor and ask them about their research. Ask them if there are any interesting extensions of their work.
    • Go to their Current Topics talk if they are giving one.
    • Talk to their grad students. Ask them questions like:
      • How much time do they give to their students?
      • Do they look closely at their students’ work?
      • Do they have good problems?
      • Where are their former students now? Do they have jobs? Are they in academia or industry? If academia, do they have tenure?
      • Does the advisor have tenure?
      • Do they provide research assistantships to their students?
      • Do they give good career advice?
    • Don’t be too picky about the topic. Having a good working relationship with them matters more.
    • Make sure the professor’s style of advising works well for you. If you need regular deadlines and lots of facetime to stay focused, find an advisor who is more hands-on. If you like to be more independent, find an advisor who will give you more freedom to explore on your own

  3. Start working on a project.
    • To reiterate: ask them if there are any interesting extensions of their work. Or, ask them if there are any papers they have been meaning to read that might be accessible to you.
    • Read a paper. Write code. Ask questions.

General advice suitable for all graduate students:

  • Go to seminars and colloquium talks, even if they are not exactly in your area (that is, if you know your area already).
  • Go to Current Topics talks. It's a great way to see what kind of research is going on in the department.