A recent chat with a graduate student:
4:32 PM Student: Can I ask you a research question?
 me: sure
 Student: or more practically, how did you realize you wanted to research what you do research?
  To put it into context
4:33 PM me: I went to talk with professors and grab the best thing I found
  and the advisor that I thought i would get along with the best
  in the end it came down more to my scientific background fitting with the research than my statistical interest
 Student: makes sense
4:34 PM I am trying to come up with an idea for an NSF application where you need to propose some sort of idea of what you want to study
4:35 PM me: I would still go and talk with professors....I bet the NSF proposals from graduate students that get funding have a heavy influence from an advisor
 Student: yah
4:36 PM what is your recommendation for broaching this stuff with other professors?
4:37 PM because I definitely have areas of interest outside of statistics but the biggest challenge is figuring out a way to merge them with statistics in a meaningful way
4:38 PM me: email them and ask to meet for 30 mins to discuss their research, let them know you are looking for an advisor, and plan on submitting an NSF proposal
  before each meeting try to do some background reading on what their research entails
4:39 PM i.e. read their website, read abstracts for recent papers (knowing you probably won't understand much), but it will help you come up with questions to ask that will make clear you have tried to come prepared
4:40 PM Student: yah
  thanks for the advice
4:41 PM me: np

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19 October 2011