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Finding an Advisor

Perhaps you came to Davis with a specific adviser in mind. It's entirely reasonable to reach out to that person now, even if you don't have time for a research project yet. They might have a working group you could attend, or they might be interested in meeting and talking anyway. Getting to know them, their research interests, and their research style is still useful.

Perhaps you came to Davis without a specific adviser in mind. That's common and fine. Here are some ideas on finding one.

The Faculty

Students in the applied math program (GGAM) are usually advised by GGAM faculty. Students in the math program (GMAT) are usually advised by faculty members of the math department. There's overlap between these two groups. Here are some relevant directories:

Learning More

Many faculty maintain departmental websites. Many have little research bios on their directory page. Here are some other sources of information:

Various Databases

  • The NSF Awards Database. These awards usually have abstracts aimed at a general mathematical audience, which can be very useful and interesting. Not everyone applies for NSF awards, so don't panic if you look up your potential adviser and find none. If they do have a grant, it's absolutely no guarantee that they'll have funding for graduate students.
  • arXiv. Even if parsing the titles/abstracts of their publications is a bigger project than makes sense, this publication list can still be useful. arXiv papers are tagged according to broad mathematical topics. (e.g. Algebraic Geometry, Mathematical Physics.) Some papers also have their MSC Classes listed.
  • MathSciNet. This database tracks which areas someone tends to publish in (with a nice word-cloud, even) and who they tend to collaborate with. It is behind an AMS-membership paywall, but you should be able to access it when connected to eduroam or on the library VPN.

Their Other Students

Sometimes it's good to talk to other people. Here are some ways of finding a faculty members other students, current and past:

  • Ex-Students. It could be useful to talk to their ex-students who either dropped out or switched advisers. Folks drop out and/or change advisers for all sorts of reasons - not all of them bad. As far as this wiki-editor knows, there is no published list of such students. Your best bet would be to ask around.

Talks & Courses

  • The Faculty Research Seminar features introductory talks by our own faculty. It was organized with the intent to help graduate students find potential advisers. It's also just a nice seminar to attend.
  • Special Topics Courses. These are offered at a relatively low rate - one each of MAT 180 and MAT 280 each quarter. Even if there isn't an opportunity to take one with a faculty member you're interested in working with, the old course list is a good source of information.
  • Reading Courses. These come in three flavors - MAT 298/299/299D. The first is for group reading courses, the second for individual study, and the third for dissertation research. To register for one of these, talk to the faculty about what the course woulld be on, and how many units it'd be for. Then fill out the relevant form in the department office. It's common to take at least one MAT 299 with your potential adviser before going into the qualifying exam.


Here is what the graduate council has to say about the advisee/advisor relationship: Mentoring Guidelines

To see how to prepare for the Qual, go to The Qualifying Exam tab.

The timeline described here can be too late for some people. To find another version of the timeline, go to Wish I'd Known... tab.

findadvisor.txt · Last modified: 2021/04/14 11:18 by brown