Jump to content

Recently hired assistant professor as POI?

Recommended Posts

I found someone whose work is EXACTLY what I am hoping to do, in one of the few programs that aligns with my weird, interdisciplinary thing. However, she seems pretty green, and only recently got hired as an assistant professor. In fact, it looks like while she has written a number of articles, she's still working on her first book manuscript!

My hunch is that a person in this position (who may or may not be on the tenure track?) may not be ready or even want to take on students in an advisee role. Is that the case? Could I reach out to her and tell her that I love her work so far, that it aligns with mine, and ask if she's willing to accept a student next year? Or is it a bad idea to try and hitch my wagon to someone who only just built their own wagon, so to speak?

Maybe I can just reference her work in my SOP but alongside some stronger, more established professors at the same institution? Maybe I'm a big goofball, but I was just so excited to see someone doing what I love after sooooo many close-but-not-quites.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If, like you say, your research interests are very idiosyncratic, and you don't see yourself moving away from that and exploring other realms of possibilities, it'll be an excellent opportunity to find someone who can show you the ropes thoroughly. A new prof doesn't have to be a bad thing. If anything, they may have more to prove, and more time to spend on you. Being green may mean that they are more than willing to help you establish yourself while they establish their own careers. All those upcoming papers that she will be publishing? They could have your name on it. 

While it can go multiple ways of why you should or should not ask this prof to be your POI, ultimately, you should consider what is going to be best for your future graduate career. If it fits, why not have this as an option amongst your other applications to other POIs? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is hard to evaluate because honestly, it depends so much on the person. When I started, my supervisor had just been hired about 1-2 years ago. However, I know that this person is a superstar that will definitely have no problem with tenure. And, they will be up for tenure in the same year I graduate, more or less. And, I talked to the department head and asked about tenure rates in general (not about any specific professor) and tenure here is basically a sure thing. So, with all of this, I have no worries at all that my supervisor is "new".

I don't think younger faculty are "better" or "worse" than senior faculty. They are just different, and these differences might even be smaller than differences between individual faculty members. I have worked with brand new, mid-career and late-career supervisors. Generally and briefly, I think younger faculty tend to have more projects going on, which means more interesting things to work on and they can be very hands-on. They can provide great advice too because they were in your shoes just a few years ago. Senior faculty, especially those near retirement tend to have smaller groups and fewer projects going on, which means smaller groups sometimes (but not always, especially in lab fields) so when I worked with senior people, I got more attention (all the grant $$$ for me! mwahaha). They also have a very wide network and deep experience with the field, which is very helpful.

When forming my thesis committee, I sought to have a balance of young, middle-career and senior faculty to get the best of all worlds!

For your case, you are just applying to schools now. Definitely apply to this one with this POI because you are super interested in their work. Do contact them and see if they would be interested in taking on students. I think this is field dependent--I know from other threads that in the humanities, new professors don't really advise students very much because their beginning years are meant for them to write that book and develop their own program. However, in the sciences, new faculty are often given lower teaching loads and lots of startup money so that they can hire an army of students and postdocs and produce a ton of research. But in either case, you will have to ask them to find out. When you do, just simply say you are very interested in their work and ask if they will take students in Fall 2016--no need to mention your concerns about new faculty (in fact, don't mention them, it would be rude/weird!!). If they say yes, you don't have to decide now--just apply and find out more when you visit/talk to them after acceptance. Talk to students and other mentors you might have to get their opinion once you actually have this decision to make!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

The same case is with me, i.e. the professor I want to do graduate research with was a recent hire. If you want to catch the attention of this professor, you would definitely want to contact her and let her know that you've applied so she can at least recall your name. There is nothing wrong with mentioning an assistant professor in your SOP if the research fits because that is EXACTLY one of the qualities that the department looks for in an applicant - research fit. And I would think that an assistant professor is actively looking for students to take under his/her group. There are many pros and cons with choosing an assistant vs. tenured or associate professor, such as funding and communication, but as far as research fit goes and whether you should contact her because of that, don't hesitate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 years later...

I know this thread is old, but I am also interested in learning if it's appropriate to include an assistant professor as a potential POI in the statement of purpose. I was told that it was safer to list tenured faculty with a strong publication record in my statement of purpose. My field is sociology.  

Please share your thoughts!

Edited by michigan girl
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use