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It's remarkable how big of an impact professors can have

  1. Jul 6, 2014 #1
    I had a professor for a real analysis class that I really enjoyed. I was curious about his research. I asked him to do a senior thesis and in doing so, he introduced me to area of math/physics that I love (stochastic dynamics, as applied to quantum/stat mech). It was an amazing experience looking back. We met up frequently and just talked. We talked about whatever we wanted to talk about. Granted, it was aimed at a point, but sometimes he would just teach me things he thought were important. We talked one time for 3 to 4 hours (always at least 1 or 2 hours). Just about math, science, philosophy, etc. I have learned so much from this guy. He is crazy smart, not only in science and math, but in philosophy and life as well.

    He trusted me, and actually asked me to lecture at a seminar HE goes to. I am an undergraduate and these were graduate students and professors. He trusted me enough and gave me the experience, which was amazing. I did fine, and it was a great experience.

    He's helped me develop so much professionally. There are so many little tidbits of information he gave me. I sometimes would come to him with random ideas or things I thought were cool from my math or physics classes. He would explain it to me in depth and I always got a good perspective from him. I remember once I had a passing idea, I brought it up and he lectured for like an hour and a half. He always fostered ideas and encouraged me to think and question.

    The biggest thing he did though, was basically get me into grad school. I asked for a letter of rec and he did me one better. He has a friend who is working on what I want to, and long story short I should be going to graduate school and working with his friend. It's paid as well.

    He gave me what I want to study, what area I want to go into. He taught me so much about math and science in general. He taught me about philosophy, life, academia, science (in the larger picture). He gave me the experience of the lecture. He got me into grad school. This guy helped me develop professionally and personally so much, it's truly remarkable.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2014 #2
    Such an awesome professor and person is probably a member of PF already. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  4. Jul 6, 2014 #3
    This is great to hear. I'm assuming you're an undergrad in the US. I recently got back from a big and costly international conference (as a grad student) and was shocked at the amount of sophomores, juniors and seniors attending among the slew of post-docs, grad students and faculty there.

    As an outsider (did my undergrad in Europe), it looks like professors in the US put a great deal of trust in their students and give them lots of "outside the box" opportunities to advance and learn, get involved in real research, etc. I didn't have this opportunity as an undergrad and only got to do research when my senior thesis project came around. Prior to that, my profs always seemed reluctant/too busy to take time from their research/lecturing/grant-fishing to bring an undergrad up to speed to do something productive. I would never imagine them sending undergrads to an int'l conference/workshop on their own grants' dime either.

    I urge any US students reading this to take full advantage of the opportunities you have available, they are awesome.
  5. Jul 7, 2014 #4


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    Hey johnqwertyful (PF should get an addon that finishes nicknames for us in a thread. For example, instead of having to copy paste that weird name, I would have written "john", clicked tab and it would fill the qwertyful).

    Anyway, john, that sounds absolutely amazing. You sound like a great student as well, so maybe if it wasn't that professor, it would have been another one, I don't know. Either way, you should send him a "thank you" letter, I'm sure he'll enjoy reading/receiving it!
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
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