How do I select an IMB Honours advisor?
So you have decided to become an Honours research student. Congratulations!
Two of the most important challenges you will face are Choosing an Advisor, and Convincing an Advisor to Choose You. No doubt you will be looking for an Advisor that is an internationally respected expert in their field, heading a well resourced, innovative and highly productive research group, regularly publishing high impact papers in leading scientific journals. Ideally they should consistently attract high levels of research funding in the form of government grants and industry investment - after all, excellent science is not cheap. Most importantly you should be on the look out for an Advisor who has an established reputation for successfully attracting, training and mentoring research students. IMB Lab Heads meet all these criteria.
Choosing an Advisor
Know your interests and your strengths! Before you make contact with a potential advisor ask yourself, what area of science do I find most exciting and do I have the prior training and grades to convince someone to take me on as an Honours student in that field? Do your homework! Research individual IMB Lab Heads, visit their websites, read their papers, learn of and understand their research and achievements, and where possible attend their seminars/lectures at conferences/meetings etc... Identify and target that one IMB Lab Head that you want above all others to be your Advisor. Generic emails to several IMB Lab Heads lack a sense of commitment and are unlikely to be effective. If you want a leading international scientist (an IMB Lab Head) to take you on as an Honours student, requesting that they invest their time, energy, resources and funds, do them the courtesy of taking the time to decide for yourself who is your number one choice. As a first start try the IMB website, and don't forget that many IMB Lab Heads maintain their own specialist research group websites - so take the time to find and read these sites. You might also consider making contact with students and/or staff in the target research group, to get some feedback on the advisory skills of the Lab Head. Take the time to choose well!
Convincing an Advisor to Choose You
So you have identified an IMB Lab Head as your ideal Advisor. Congratulations. Now you have to convince them to choose you. IMB Lab Heads receive hundreds of enquiries every year from hopeful research students. Getting first contact right is critical. If you are fortunate you may be able to pitch your case in person, for example at a conference or after a seminar, lecture or tutorial. Alternatively you may have had a prior placement in an IMB lab, as an undergraduate student, or as an occupational trainee. While this personal contact will not guarantee an Honours place, it at least ensures that your case is heard. If you can't manage personal contact then make your email count. Some tips for getting your email noticed. Address the email to the Lab Head by name, and demonstrate very clearly that you understand what research they do, what some of their recent achievements have been, and that this is an excellent fit with your experience, ability and interests. To be credible you must be eligible for the particular School Honours Program that you intend enroling in, and you must have a high GPA. By all means attach supporting documents (CV, academic transcripts etc...). If you sell your case well in this email you will get a positive response, most likely requesting additional details (i.e. an IMB Expression of Interest (EOI) Form) and/or a face to face (Skype?) meeting.
For more details see:
- How do I select an IMB Honours project?
- Am I eligible/competitive for IMB Honours?
- How do I apply to do Honours at IMB?