What are your expectations from the PhD students you advise?

I don’t have any quantitative expectations, but you do need 3-4 solid papers to include in a dissertation to graduate without fear of not passing the defense. The papers don’t all need to be published, but they should at least be under submission in good shape.

The quality and quantity of the papers you need also depend on what you want to do next. If you want to go to a research lab or academia, I encourage to put more focus on publishing in top-tier venues, even if it means waiting a couple of iterations and choosing problems that are more likely to be well received in those venues. If not, you might want to focus on making codebases available on GitHub, spending time on documentations and contributions to open-source projects.

Other than that, I would say I “expect” you to:

  • take charge of the projects you are leading and work proactively on several aspects thereof (e.g., experiments, proofs, bullet-proof literature reviews, writing drafts, etc)
  • come to recurring meetings prepared with updates and things to discuss (e.g., if for any reason there’s no progress since the last meeting, please cancel it rather than wasting people’s time)
  • meet commitments jointly agreed upon (e.g., working hard close to a deadline we agreed to target)
  • deliver on what we agreed on if funded by external grants
  • being keen on learning, hearing other people’s feedback and working on improving. E.g., if your writing needs a lot of work, take a look at the git diffs and learn from that implicit feedback. If your presentations need work, attend/watch numerous talks, etc.
  • represent the values of our lab such as inclusivity, respect, ethical and legal principles, collegiality, etc.

Ultimately, I don’t see students as my employees; i.e., you don’t work for me but for yourself. Evidently, the amount of support, guidance, ideas, and advice you get from more experienced people working with you (including me) is inherently proportional to the effort and passion you put in.

What can you expect from me?

  • I am your advisor and will advise you on any aspects related to science, research, and education
  • I am responsive whenever you need to reach me, and follow up and get back to you as soon as I possibly can, prioritizing to the best of my abilities. If I’m swamped with some big work task or taking a disconnection break, I plan and communicate that well in advance
  • I support and assist you in finding the right conditions for you to succeed and minimize friction. I don’t care if you work Mon-Fri 9-to-5 and take a small number of days off per year. Whatever works for you in order to be productive while taking care of your mental health is good with me

So you got an offer from UCR and considering doing a PhD with me?

  1. Contact my students and alumni
  2. Familiarize yourself with UCR PhD program
  3. Familiarize yourself with life in Southern California