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November 30th

Applying for a PhD position

I am always looking for undergraduate, PhD students and post-docs to join us in building the next generation of interactive database systems. My group works on fun, fast-paced research that asks a simple question: “How do we let humans interact with data more effectively?” The answers often lie in a wide range of topics including database systems, human computer interaction, information visualization, statistical sampling, and information retrieval.

Please contact me if you would like to work with my group. Before contacting me, be sure to read at least one of my publications, and include at least a few comments in your email about my research. This is a little more effort than simply describing yourself, but it helps me have a better appreciation of your abilities. I try to respond to most students, but avoid replying to students who send out mass-copy-paste-emails without even considering the recipient.

Here are some links and resources for upcoming applicants that I think are useful to know and may help improve your applications.

  • Here is a nice e-book that asks, Should I get a PhD?.
  • Collaborator Larry Xu has a very nice review of his undergraduate research activities, a must-read if you’re planning on getting involved in undergraduate research.
  • Eugene Wu has a nice list of qualities for an ideal graduate student. (Eugene and I are collaborators on the Perceptvis project, you can apply to either of us to work in this area.)
  • Hannah Wallach and Mark Dredze have a good collection of advice on How to be a Successful PhD Student
  • Vijay Chidambaram ‘s prospective students lists some common expectations (from both the advisor and the advisee) that are worth asking your prospective advisor about.
  • Philip Guo has a lot of good articles, especially about his PhD experience. His prospective students page, like Vijay’s, mentions “Grit, tenacity, and perseverance” — these attributes are really, really important.
  • Adam Marcus has a really nice writeup sharing his advice about school.
  • Matt Might’s blog is a really great collection, and has a section devoted to graduate school, including a nice HOWTO.
  • Several students often make their graduate decisions based on US News / other simplistic rankings. This is typically a bad idea: please spend more time looking into your specific program. If you are planning to spend half a decade of your life somewhere, shouldn’t you be spending some more time engaging with your prospective advisor / peers?
  • If you are aspiring towards being a professor after your PhD, make sure you read Clauset et al.‘s study into faculty hiring networks that explains the current realities of faculty hiring.