Student Advising

Note: this document will be revised regularly. This is posted as of Jan 2019.

Academic life is incredibly rewarding. One of the most joyful parts of it for me is working with students. Students are the lifeblood of the university and the source of new ideas and discovery. This statement is designed to be read primarily by students who are interested in working with me, but also by students who are currently working with me or by students who work with other faculty and wonder if what they are experiencing is "normal".

It should go without saying, but it is important to say anyway: I welcome students from a wide range of backgrounds to work with me regardless of where you come from, what you look like, etc.

Signing up to work with a professor, especially as a PhD student or a paid Research Assistant, is a significant responsibility and commitment on both our parts. I try to hold myself to high standards with students, but I also have high expectations from students who work with me. In general, we should all be responsive, respectful, honest, timely, and hard-working. When those things aren’t happening, we should talk to figure out how we can get there. I inevitably fail at doing this sometimes--I get distracted, balls drop--but I try to learn and see these relationships as ongoing learning processes.

In general, I am available to meet with students every week. I don't take on too many students (typically between 5-10 total across doctoral, Masters, and undergraduate students at any given time) to ensure that I will have time to meet with them. Other faculty run larger labs with group meetings or open hours or hierarchies of meetings—those are also reasonable arrangements. New doctoral students are expected to meet with me weekly--some meetings will take a full hour or more, some will just be a few minutes. I value my time and yours and we should meet as often and as long as is productive, but not more than that. Senior students often transition to meeting every other week, or just on demand, after they’ve established their own research trajectory. Some RAs work on small projects for a few hours a week and we may also meet less frequently.

Academic life is unlike many industry jobs in that there is no 9-5 structure in place. As a result, students can feel like they should be working all the time. They should not. The vast majority of people cannot sustain overwork without compromising their physical or mental health. I also think that for the majority of people, working reasonable hours and taking breaks results in more innovative and impactful scholarship. I spend my non-work hours (typically evening and weekends) with family, watching Netflix, exercising, and cooking/baking. I take a few explicit weeks of vacation a year. You should also find things that you like to spend time on outside of your work hours. Things outside of work also come up related to health, family, emergencies, etc. Those often require work breaks, and at the very least, different work arrangements. You can let me know if that comes up for you.

The university (like most of society) has strong hierarchical structures. Professors are in positions of power over students and students are unfortunately not always able to speak up when something isn’t right. I welcome student input, especially if I or one of my colleagues has said or done something that makes a student feel uncomfortable. Harassment, intolerance, and other injustices are not okay. Though I can’t promise just outcomes, I will be available to listen to students and try to make their experiences better.

Are there things I've forgotten to address? Other things that would improve student experiences? Please do email me and let me know!