What you should know about our group?
We are an interdisciplinary group that spans multiple departments (Civil & Environmental Engineering, Oceanography & Mechanical Engineering to name a few). We study the dynamics of fluid flow as it relates to transport and mixing in rivers, estuaries and the coastal ocean. During the school year, we meet weekly– we share research updates, rehearse conference presentations, give chalk talks, or practice our writing and peer review skills. We welcome students from a variety of backgrounds!
How does the application process work?
(text adapted from Dr. Allison Pfeiffer)
The application process for graduate school in the sciences can be mystifying from the outside. And the norms vary between different scientific fields. The internet has lots of advice, but here’s a quick synopsis of a standard approach for applications to graduate programs in the geosciences:
Summer – early Fall (1 year before you start grad school): Do your homework
- Soul search and consider your desired field of interest (a particular landscape? a particular set of tools you’re interested in?)
- Ask professors and/or grad students for advice and suggestions for potential advisors
- Research the potential advisors, ask around about their work, read their websites, read their papers
Fall (or earlier): Contact potential advisors
You should send emails to potential advisors to ask if they’re planning to take students, and what work they would be interested in having a student work on.
- Keep it succinct and to the point (~200-350 words)
- Proof read!
- Attach your CV (similar to a resume), and your senior thesis if you did one
- Make it clear that you know what their research is about, and how your interests align
- Let them know if one of their colleagues recommended them to you
- Ask brief, pertinent questions: “Are you taking students starting Fall 20XX?” “Do you have funding to continue your work on XXX?”
- Indicate if you have applied for your own funding or are planning to do so (see fellowships links below)
- A helpful resource for writing emails can also be found here
The potential advisor may not respond quickly. They may say they lack funding or the time for new students. They may tell you that you’re not the kind of student they’re interested in. (For example: perhaps they need someone with a strong background in numerical modeling and you’ve never coded before). These are all normal responses. Don’t take them personally.
If it’s been a few weeks and you haven’t heard anything, it’s okay to send a follow-up email. (Professors are busy, and emails can fall through the cracks!) If they do respond and are potentially interested in having you as a student, ask to Skype or have a phone call with them.
Winter: write, submit applications
Applications for graduate school are similar, in some ways, to undergraduate applications (personal statement, transcripts, reference letters, etc), though a good application will outline a vision for a research project with a particular faculty mentor.
You may consider applying to different University of Washington graduate departments depending on your interests, background, and your potential advisor’s home department:
- Civil and Environmental Engineering Application deadline: Dec. 15 (for autumn quarter)
- Oceanography Application deadline: Dec. 1 (for autumn quarter)
- Mechanical Engineering Application deadline: Dec. 15 (for autumn quarter)
- Reach out to professors if you are interested in their research! Ask if they are taking on students this year.
- Faculty and Advisors
You may find a few of these links useful: