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Building professor relationship

  1. Jan 31, 2010 #1
    Hi all, I wanted some advice on my research-advisor. I was fortunate to have enjoyed a nice night in town with my research-advisor and his girlfriend. He insisted on paying for everything, and he did. I was quite grateful, and have been wondering about a way to return the favour, and/or conduct myself with gratitude (short, of course, of groveling). He is a quiet extremely reserved man with a fastidiousness that seems to have served him well. I was floored when I found out he held two-year position at the Institute for Advanced Study.

    All I could find out was that he enjoyed the soundtrack from the movie "King Arthur", and that he went to go see an educational IMAX film about research on the dinosaurs. I am thinking about asking his girlfriend what his interests are, so that I may present a fairly-thoughtful token of my gratitude.

    However: I'm notorious for stubbing my toes on social taboos. Anything that I have not foreseen, or may be doing wrong?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 31, 2010 #2
    One of my friends pointed out that you may not be allowed to give him anything with monetary value if you need him to write you recs (bribes and such.) There's a rule book somewhere about this sort of stuff. I also don't know about bugging the girlfriend, though if you do keep it short and polite.

    That's also manners. He makes way more than you do, and knows how underpaid you are. I think a Thanks is sufficient, but there's also general good will, like feeding the lab (soda and junk food or whatever your mates prefer), or one of those other little quality of life issues, like dry erase markers or other supplies you can't steal from the department.
  4. Jan 31, 2010 #3
    I would suggest avoiding returning the favor with money. It might easily offend him. While talking to his girlfriend is a good idea, you should realize that it is customary for researchers to take out their students for dinner etc. The best way you can repay him is by putting more effort in you research. As story645 said you can do something small like get donuts to group meetings, but nothing more than that.

  5. Jan 31, 2010 #4
    Ah! I am grateful for these suggestions!
  6. Jan 31, 2010 #5


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    I think the best thing to do in a situation like this is just say thank you. Let him know that you appreciated the night and leave it at that.

    This is the kind of thing that you can pay forward, if in the future you find yourself in a similar situation.
  7. Feb 1, 2010 #6
    You could always go old fashion and actually write a thank you note. He may like that
  8. Feb 1, 2010 #7

    I have a friend that is currently working his way towards med school and has been taking advice from a local doctor. He went to the local store and got him a card to thank him. I also think that thanking him by means of card instead of something monetary goes a longer way in demonstrating character. That may come in useful if you need to have a letter of recommendation in the future.
  9. Feb 1, 2010 #8
    Writing a thank you note because he paid for a night out is over the top. I suggest you forget it, because no one actually expects you to thank them for something so insignificant. If you do, you'll just look like a suck up.
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