Finding an advisor

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One of the most important tasks graduate students must complete is selecting an advisor. The handbook states that by the end of the third year graduate students should be working with their research advisor, but the process begins much earlier. In your first year, you will be matched with a faculty mentor , who can aid you in finding your research advisor.

Faculty Mentors

At the beginning of the first year, students are assigned to a faculty mentor who will serve as the student”Ēs advisor until an official research advisor is selected. The role of the faculty mentor is to offer guidance on course selection, advancement to candidacy, selecting a research advisor, and any issues that affect the student's academic progress. Students must meet with their faculty mentor at the beginning of each quarter to complete an academic progress review. During the initial review, an academic progress form will be completed that lists what tasks should be completed by the student in order for the student to complete the current phase of graduate training. During the first and second years, this would include completing the core courses, enrolling in elective courses, participating in graduate seminar, and beginning the process of deciding upon an area of research and finding a research advisor. A timetable for completion of each task agreed upon by the student and mentor is provided on the form. In future meetings, the faculty mentor will write an assessment that includes a brief account of the student's progress, and if they have not moved forward an explanation of why, and whether any particular problems or other considerations should be noted.

Once the form has been completed, it will be passed to the Faculty Graduate Advisor who will then complete a brief assessment of the report and the student's progress. These reports are forwarded to the Staff Graduate Advisor, and if requested, to Graduate Division where they will be reviewed by the Graduate Deans and a copy kept in the student's permanent record. The mandated mentoring and reporting process will be repeated each quarter until the student has advanced to candidacy and secured an official advisor. At that time, the student will complete an academic progress review with their research advisor on an annual basis.

Selecting a research advisor

The choice of a research advisor is one of the most important decisions you will make as a graduate student. The decision should be made by the third year, and it is reasonable to devote significant thought to who your advisor will be. There are three formal mechanisms in Physics for distribution of research information: The Departmental web site, the seminar series, in particular the Graduate Seminar 260G, and the special topics seminars and brown bag lunches coordinated by research groups and the Faculty Graduate Advisor.

The 260 series of short, informal talks are designed for the faculty to inform graduate students about their respective research. First year students are required to attend Graduate Seminar (260G) because this is perhaps the only time students will be able to obtain a comprehensive idea of the overall breadth and activity of the work in the Physics Department. Following these seminars, it is in students best interest to meet individually with each faculty member to discuss projects and areas of research. It is also a good idea to attend the department colloquiums to find out more about research groups at UCSB. Meeting the faculty and attending seminars is essential to selecting a faculty advisor