Prospective Students

As you will see in the composition of my research group, I work with a variety of students from a number of programs and with different academic and professional interests and goals.  If you are interested in becoming a part of my group, please do not hesitate to contact me and be sure to specify the program(s) that you are in or to which you plan to apply.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Tips for emails:

The best advice I have for contacting me (or anyone else with whom you’d like to work) is to send an email that connects to my group’s interests and activities. As you may imagine, we receive a fair number of emails from prospective students, and it is useful for us (and thus to you) if you provide information about yourself and your interests in an easily digestible manner.  For example, if you type up and send your GRE scores, please also include the percentiles.

Prospective students and others often send attachments for us to look at, but it is more helpful to us (and thus you) to at least summarize in your email what you have included in the attachment.  Better emails will convey your interest by having looked into some of the research that my group and I conduct and the directions that we are going.  Even better emails will convey that you’ve thought about some issues that you might want to investigate at the intersection of energy and environmental systems and policy, or how our group might be able to help you with some problems that you’d like to address.  

Tips for applying to our graduate programs:

Graduate school entails an evolution from consuming knowledge to developing it.  As an undergraduate student, you will have received a relatively broad-based education in a discipline (or two, perhaps three).  Graduate school involves a deeper dive into a field.  As a masters student, you will focus on learning more about a topic or field and you will start to transition to being able to produce something for others to learn.  A doctoral program pushes this evolution deeper and prepares students to develop questions about some aspects of how the world works and critically answer these questions in order to contribute to knowledge.

The best applications stand out on many dimensions.  Your grades at the institutions that you’ve attended are a decent indicator of how well you can learn topics.  Your GRE scores help us to assess your ability to think analytically.  These capabilities are typically reinforced (or not) by the letters of recommendation provided with your application.  The most useful letters are typically written by faculty members who are familiar with you as a person, as a student, and can assess your potential to dive deeper into a topic, exercise leadership, and (if applying to a Ph.D. program) leverage existing tools and develop new ones to produce useful knowledge about some aspect of how the world operates.  Your personal statement is your opportunity to convey how you think, what motivates you, and what you want to do in graduate school and after it.  This is perhaps the most important part of your application to our Ph.D. programs, and is what you are most able to influence at the time of your application.  Take it seriously and invest time and effort to make it stand out.  We are interested in seeing what you think about and how well you think about it.  These statements should be tailored to the program to which you are applying, and convey observations about the world and how you want to understand it better.  Better statements will mention specific faculty members with whom you want to work, at a minimum, and provide possible directions for you to develop while in graduate school.  We want to see you write something along the lines of, “I’m interested in THIS, and I’d like to research THAT.” Be as specific as you can be, but do not worry about being held to THIS and THAT during your time in graduate school.  As you get to know more about the field(s) and the (existing) methods, you will likely focus in on topics to pursue that are usually related, but perhaps slightly orthogonal, to what you wrote in your personal statement.  The best thing to do is convey that you are curious and that you want to figure things out!


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