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Dual PhD in chemistry and applied mathematics (fluid dynamics is area of interest)

by mcooper1986
Tags: applied, chemistry, dual, dynamics, fluid, mathematics
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Jan15-13, 06:46 PM
P: 5
Hi all, thank you in advance for reading this and potential advice :)

I am an undergraduate at a tier 2 research university in the US. I am going for a combined chemistry (biochemistry emphasis) and applied mathematics degree (I am a year away from getting both degrees). For the chemistry I have been a TA for about a year and have been researching for about 3/4 of a year. My professor for research has told me that he wants to get me published (therefore I am assuming I will have at least one published paper by graduation). My "teaching-adviser" has repeatedly gone out of his way to have me teach one of the courses he teaches (even when I have a full course load of 4 upper level math courses, comp sci course, and a graduate level chem course yowza!). Because of this I am confident that I will get good letters for applying to a graduate school. I have a 3.2 GPA (breaking up with women at critical junctions in the semester has been my Achilles heel lol)... take semesters of 18sh credits (4 chem/comp sci/math courses in a given semester) and I am currently learning JAVA/MatLab/LabView/machine coding/python.

I am assuming that I will probably be top 40th percentile for the Chemistry GRE and I am pretty confident that I would be able to pass the graduate school test for mathematics.

I want to get a dual PhD in chemistry and applied mathematics (planning on major overlapping here ).

Four questions...

What are my chances of getting into a graduate level of my choosing (or what would I need to do)?

Would the faculty be supportive of a dual PhD degree?

What would be my best option and what should I be looking for in schools if my field of interest is theoretical fluid dynamics/statics with an emphasis on developing new analytical instrumentation (chromatography specifically)?

Does anybody know of any good fluid dynamic books (advanced or primers)?
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Jan15-13, 07:08 PM
P: 718
What exactly do you mean by "dual PhD"? Like, something interdisciplinary across departments? If that's what you mean, your best option would probably be to find a mathematics advisors who frequently collaborates with chemists on theoretical problems (or vice versa) and see if they will supervise you. It might in principle be possible to do a PhD co-supervised across departments, but this would be a logistical nightmare.

On the other hand, if by "dual PhD" you're suggesting literally doing two PhDs concurrently, one in applied math and one in chemistry, then there's no such thing, and I imagine most schools will laugh at you if you tell them that's your intention.
Jan15-13, 07:58 PM
P: 5

Thank you for your opinion, I will look into the collaboration bit. But, two PhD degrees is possible as seen by the above college websites.

Jan15-13, 08:17 PM
P: 718
Dual PhD in chemistry and applied mathematics (fluid dynamics is area of interest)

Neither of those websites show what you are claiming is possible.

The latter is a joint JD/PhD program, which is certainly not the same thing as two PhDs. A JD is a law degree. There are also joint MD/PhD programs. Such programs take advantage of the very different structure of an academic doctorate and professional doctorate to avoid conflicting obligations. This is not what you are describing.

The former is one university's study of the possibility of offering dual PhD programs with partner institutions. Do you have any evidence that they actually moved forward on it?

The only instances I've ever seen of programs in which you could end up with two PhDs are ones that involve international collaborations on particular projects. These crop up when there's significant cooperation between two universities on a single research objective and students split their time between the two institutions. Then their dissertation, or possibly two similar variants of it, are eligible for a degree from both institutions. Once again, this is not what you are describing. What you say you want to do is do simultaneous doctoral research in two different programs: applied math and chemistry. This, to be perfectly frank, is insane. Short of being accepted to different universities' PhD programs and somehow managing to sustain full-time obligations to both institutions, the option of doing two simultaneous PhDs in distinct fields simply does not exist.
Jan15-13, 08:22 PM
P: 48
Check out the UMich AIM program.
Jan15-13, 08:28 PM
P: 718
Quote Quote by zapz View Post
Check out the UMich AIM program.
I'm assuming this is meant to be a reply to the OP's original question and not my post #4, since that's a single PhD program. In any case, that does look like a good opportunity for OP to pursue what he or she is interested in.
Jan15-13, 08:57 PM
P: 830
It can be done.

Whether it's advisable is something else entirely, and not something I am fit to answer.
Jan16-13, 09:51 AM
P: 222
Quote Quote by Mépris View Post
It can be done.

Whether it's advisable is something else entirely, and not something I am fit to answer.
Wow, that's pretty impressive because his dissertations are completely unrelated.. I would have guessed that at least those would be related somehow. Damn, he's a freak.
Jan16-13, 11:02 AM
P: 5
Quote Quote by Mépris View Post
It can be done.

Whether it's advisable is something else entirely, and not something I am fit to answer.
Thank you for your responses. I will definitely check the AIM program for U-Mich and I should probably just look up people who have two PhDs and start e-mail correspondence with a few to see what they did and whether it was worth it. Thank you for his website Mépris! I think if I twisted a few arms at my University they would let me go for a double PhD, but I would rather go somewhere else and "expand my horizons".
Mike H
Jan16-13, 12:38 PM
P: 485
First, I can't recommend The illustrated guide to a Ph.D. enough for perspective. Having said that....

I have a Ph.D. in chemistry and was jointly advised by two faculty in our department (one experimentalist, one theorist). Outside of the obligatory chemical physics Ph.D. classmates I had (a joint program between the chemistry and physics departments), I knew a handful of people who had co-advisors in other departments, to varying degrees of formality, but still resulting in a single Ph.D. with dissertation, not two (or more!).. The extent of this situation ranged from "I do one or two days every two weeks over there, mostly to use their instruments and such" to "I am well and truly co-advised, to the extent of funding and needing additional coursework to fulfill training grant stipulations." It's certainly possible, but if you can figure out how to pursue your interests without requiring two PhD degrees, it will keep you from being a grad student for 10 years (Breech seems to have started his graduate education in 1998 and finished in 2008) and allow you to get on with your life.

I would also consider cognate departments/programs such as chemical engineering and applied physics - you might find that they're a better match for your interests than trying to make an analytical chemist and fluid dynamicist shake hands.
Jan16-13, 02:38 PM
P: 895
try chemical engineering. its the only place where you'll get macroscopic fluid mechanics and analytical instrumentation to meet.

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