Friday, March 25, 2011

My Advisor

It occurs to me that the "How Research Works" posts may appear a little harsh out of context.  Behind the cut is something I wrote for my teaching class about my relationship with my advisor.  I have a lot of problems with the way graduate school works, but I'm really grateful for the relationship I have with my advisor (even through she drives me crazy about 50% of the time).

We’ve been interviewing prospective students for my lab recently.   During the interview process, most of the prospective students have asked the usual questions about the lab, the research, and life on the island.   In many cases, generally over lunch, they also asked more general questions about choosing a graduate program.  Usually it's been obvious that they were less looking for more encouragement to come here for grad school and more that they needed some advice on choosing the best program from people familiar with the process.

A piece of advice that I find myself giving in such instances is that, more than the prestige of the program, the research, or really anything else, it is the advisor-advisee relationship that is important in graduate school. Usually this advice is coupled with a description of the value I place in my relationship with my advisor and how it has allowed me to succeed in graduate school and will hopefully help me succeed in whatever comes after.  Though the analogy is less descriptive than I’d like, my relationship with my advisor is very much akin to an apprenticeship. For me, here, it is exactly the best kind of relationship. Both implicitly and otherwise, she is teaching me how to become the type of scientist I want to become.

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