Choosing Your Major Advisor

OBJECTIVE: explore different areas of research offered by the UConn Chemistry Department

TIMELINE: all Fall 2019 Chemistry Graduate Students must officially choose a major advisor by Dec 2nd

REQUIRED FORMS: Prospective Advisor Interview; Change of Major Advisor

The Chemistry Department’s procedure for choosing your advisor is as follows:

  1. Obtain 5 faculty members signatures on the “Prospective Advisor Interview” form and return it to Emilie, A-115. You must have 5 signatures on this form in order to receive the next form.
  2. Emilie then gives you the official “Change of Major Advisor” form.
  3. Take the form to Dr. Pinkhassik, who will sign as your former advisor.
  4. After that, the form is signed by your selected major advisor and returned to Emilie. The form will not be accepted without all of the appropriate signatures.
  5. Emilie will give the form for Dr. Brueckner to approve.
  6. Emilie will make a photocopy of the approved “Change of Major Advisor” form for you and will forward the original to the Graduate School.

Faculty Interviews

The department requires all incoming graduate students to discuss their research interests with at least five faculty members before selecting their major research advisor.  You are welcome to talk with even more! There is a lot of exciting, cutting edge research going on in the Department, and you are encouraged to keep an open mind about choosing a major advisor. You must collect signatures of at least five faculty members on the “Prospective Advisor Interview” form.

Research Seminar (CHEM 5398)

New Ph.D. students are provided an opportunity to gain a broad perspective about research going on in the Department by taking a required one-credit seminar course during their first semester. MS students are also strongly encouraged to enroll for the course.

All of the Chemistry professors are invited to give a 30-minute presentation on their research activities.

The purpose is to let the new students know about all of the research opportunities available. This will be helpful in choosing a major advisor and will also be beneficial in selecting associate advisors.  Students will receive 1 credit for this course and it will be graded on a letter grade basis. For Fall 2020 new Ph.D. students will enroll in CHEM 5398 section 01. You will need to contact Emilie to obtain a permission number in order to be able to enroll in this course.

Resources for Choosing Your Major Advisor

Choosing your major advisor is one of the most important decisions you will make during your graduate career.  The following articles provide an objective and in-depth viewpoint on choosing an advisor.

  • Choosing a Graduate or Postdoc Advisor by Jon Andraos, Science Careers (2002)
    This article encourages you to evaluate prospective advisors based on the compatibility between faculty member’s career development stage and your personality and goals. It provides an in-depth comparison of young faculty advisors, mid-career faculty advisors, and senior faculty advisors along with resources to design a plan of action.
  • Planning for Graduate Work in Chemistry by ACS Committee on Professional Training (2010)
    This PDF is a comprehensive guide to graduate education in chemical sciences. The article “Choosing a Graduate School Mentor,” which begins on page 20, emphasizes the importance of personal fit and developing a mentor/mentee relationship with your academic advisor.
  • An Insider’s Guide to Choosing a Graduate Adviser and Research Projects in Laboratory Sciences by Marshall Lev Dermer, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee (1992)
    This essay is concerned with two issues: (1) selecting an advisor who can best train you, and (2) selecting a research project that can be completed in a reasonable length of time.  This is a useful resource for the information-gathering stage of your advisor selection process
  • How to Pick a Graduate Advisor by Ben A. Barres, Neuron (2013)
    This article takes a technical approach to choosing a graduate advisor by using an M-index to measure mentoring quality.  Drawing on his experiences as a Ph.D. student at Harvard and as an advisor at Stanford, the author provides a thoughtful analysis of what a good mentor is, and how to find one.