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For Mathematics Faculty

Working with an AIM student as a co-advisor or dissertation committee member can be a very rewarding experience. While some mathematics faculty have experience advising AIM students, many others are more familiar with the standard mathematics graduate program. Here are some things to keep in mind that work somewhat differently in the AIM Ph.D. program than in the mathematics Ph.D. program:

  • AIM Ph.D. students must pass the AIM QR Examinations by the beginning of the second year in the program. Some students will be concentrating on getting this requirement out of the way during the first year. But after that, there is no analogue of the "Qualifying Review" that is a key part of the mathematics Ph.D. program. So your AIM Ph.D. student may be available to start earlier on research. There is also no foreign language exam taken by AIM Ph.D. students.
  • Like in the standard mathematics Ph.D. program, it is expected that your AIM Ph.D. student advance to candidacy by the end of the third year of study. However, the process of advancing to candidacy is slightly different: your AIM Ph.D. student will need to write an AIM Thesis Proposal document with the combined input of you and your student's partner discipline co-advisor. The Preliminary examination required to advance to candidacy will then take the form of a presentation by your student on the content of the proposal, followed by a period of questions (as usual). Also, AIM students need not pass a foreign language exam.
  • Your AIM Ph.D. student has somewhat different coursework requirements than in the mathematics Ph.D. program. In particular, your student will need to take several courses from other departments to help develop the fundamental interdisciplinary side of the graduate experience in AIM.
  • Your interaction with your AIM Ph.D. student will be complemented by a third individual: your student's partner discipline co-advisor. It may be fruitful for you to cultivate a working relationship with the second co-advisor if only to support your student's interdisciplinary research experience, as part of our educational mission. This can be a truly worthwhile experience, whatever your research area and background.

For Non-Mathematics Faculty

If you are considering working with an AIM Ph.D. student, it is important to know from the outset that all AIM Ph. D. students are given a complete financial support package through the Department of Mathematics for the first five years of their graduate study (and it is expected that graduation should occur by the end of the fifth year). It is possible to offer research assistantship support to deserving AIM Ph.D. students (which would relieve them of teaching duties) but it is neither required nor expected.

Should you decide to co-advise an AIM Ph.D. student, your role would be to:

  • Help to train your student by advising about relevant coursework in your discipline (AIM students are required to take 12 credits of graded, graduate-level courses in your field or a related field) and through regular meetings.
  • Help to focus your student on a research problem in your field, keeping in mind that the student is also being co-advised in this direction by another faculty member in mathematics. Help direct your student's efforts in preparing the AIM Thesis Proposal.
  • Be available for your student's Preliminary examination, based on the AIM Thesis Proposal.
  • Work with your student through the proposed research project, and help direct both the research and the writing of a dissertation.
  • Be willing to serve as an official reader of the dissertation by writing a brief report summarizing its contributions, strengths, and any weaknesses for the review of the AIM Graduate Committee.
  • Be available for your student's thesis defense.

Of course most of these steps may be very similar to ones you are already familiar with from working with students from your own department. The main thing to keep in mind is that your AIM Ph.D. student will be working with two co-advisors, so some additional flexibility may be necessary in your interaction. It may be useful for you to establish a working relationship with your student's mathematics co-advisor if only for the sake of jointly coordinating your AIM Ph.D. student's research project.