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A PhD project on BSM

  1. Apr 28, 2016 #1

    I have just started a PhD on Beyond SM physics. I had a chat with my supervisor, and he told me to look around to find out what sort of topics interest me.

    Is there any good idea about a good PhD topic on BSM?

    I appreciate any ideas...
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2016 #2
    Well what interests you?
    Strings, loops, something else?
    Phenomenology, cosmology, ...?

    You have to narrow it down and check out some reviews on whatever interests you.
  4. Apr 28, 2016 #3
    Thanks JorisL, I need to clarify it a bit more...

    I cannot consider topics on string or quantum gravity as my supervisor is not a specialist in these areas.
    I have no interest in a purely phenomenological project...
    I am personally very interested in applications of BSM in cosmology...

    Again any good ideas appreciated...
  5. Apr 28, 2016 #4
    What is his area of expertise? Can you look up topics of previous PhDs he supervised?
  6. Apr 28, 2016 #5
    He is on the borderline between a theoretical physicist and a phenomenologist, and works on the perturbative BSM (not string, QG, …)

    He had another PhD student who worked on “scale invariant Lagrangians”, but he believes there is not much work to do on this topic anymore…

    He suggested me to work on “diphoton coupling” but this is not even experimentally confirmed, and he agreed that it was a bit early to work on this topic…

    So he suggested me to look around and find some other topics that interest me…
  7. Apr 28, 2016 #6
  8. Apr 28, 2016 #7


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    @Ramtin123 : I'd suggest you try not to select a topic that's too far from your supervisor's immediate interests. Ideally, a potential supervisor should offer a (written) list of questions to which he'd like to know the answers, rather than broad topics. I also hope you discuss things with more than one potential supervisor.

    I made the mistake twice(!) of youthfully venturing too far from my supervisors' immediate interests, and twice it didn't end well. :headbang: :oldcry:
  9. Apr 28, 2016 #8
  10. Apr 28, 2016 #9
    Thanks @strangerep. I agree... it is a better idea to think about questions rather than broad topics...
    I am talking to other faculties as well, but unfortunately my choices are very limited here...
  11. May 3, 2016 #10


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    A huge part of getting a PhD and maturing as an independent researcher is to develop this skill on your own. It's challenging, but learning how to identify the interesting questions is greatly rewarding, and necessary if you hope to survive on your own after you graduate. Asking people for research topics is easy but not helpful.
  12. May 3, 2016 #11
    Well, I don't like this comment. Please read the question and previous comments before commenting...
    Defining a suitable topic for a PhD is the responsibility of the supervisor; but it will be very helpful if other experts can give any ideas about a potential PhD project topic, as I cannot reach to any good agreement with my supervisor.
  13. May 3, 2016 #12

    Vanadium 50

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    Pity, because it was spot on.
  14. May 4, 2016 #13


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    Tbh, I too am surprised by this remark. A student beginning a PhD is, by definition, not "mature as an independent researcher".

    Your 2nd sentence is probably true only after one completes a PhD (though it can sometimes take longer).

    If a beginning PhD student is not allowed to ask others for advice about topics, then wtf is the supervisor for? :oldconfused:
  15. May 4, 2016 #14


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    You misquoted me. The "ing" at the end of the word "mature" is kind of important. Being handed a project by an advisor or anyone else is not constructive in my experience.
  16. May 4, 2016 #15


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    But maybe at least a pointer in some broad direction?

    Here's an interesting anecdote http://arxiv.org/abs/1407.1855
    "7. KGW: I met with Murray Gell-Mann to get a thesis problem, and he suggested a problem. And I thought there was no way I was working on that. So he had to come up with another one, and it didn't take him very long. The thing that impresses me most about Murray Gell-Mann when I think back on it, is how quickly he got things done. I have never met anybody who could do things as fast as he could. And so it didn't take him very long to come up with another problem for me to work on. And so he asked me to think about an equation, which was called the Gell-Mann-Low equation, and it was an equation which was of interest to him for what he would call low energy phenomena. The first thing I did with that equation was study it in the limit of high energies, the exact opposite limit to anything he was interested in. As I said, it was a small problem, but it led over ten years to larger and larger problems and to some of the key publications, in fact including the publication that was cited for the Nobel prize. But I did it by working my way from small to large, not from starting at the large from the beginning."
  17. May 4, 2016 #16

    It´s an interesting topic, since it has interaction with high energy physics, cosmology (both theoretical and observational) and potentially also with beyond the standard model physics.

    Hope you find it useful. :D
  18. May 4, 2016 #17


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    I don't see the need in a supervisor in that case really.
  19. May 4, 2016 #18


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    Really? You see no room for a supervisor short of handing a project to a student? None at all?
  20. May 4, 2016 #19


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    If the student is supposed to look for interesting questions by himself then what is the use of the supervisor?

    What is the task of the supervisor?

    If I am supposed to do all the research by myself and choose the questions that interest me and seem important, what does the supervisor do?

    Unless the supervisor knows which problems are important, I don't see what the supervisor can contribute?
  21. May 4, 2016 #20


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    The supervisor answers questions, suggests approaches to solutions when the student is having difficulty, gives advice on the viability/promise of a particular research direction, advises the student on career path, advocates for the student within the research community, etc. In my opinion the role of the supervisor is not to say "calculate such and such for your PhD".

    Of course, everyone has different experiences and supervisors run the gamut from absentee to over-controlling. Most people, unless they had an awful time during their PhD studies, will believe that their supervisor's involvement was at the appropriate level. The varied opinions in this thread are evidence of that.

    But looking at it objectively, I think there is something healthy about spending the first year of a PhD getting to know what's out there, trying to find the unanswered but interesting questions. Sure, the supervisor should give you a ballpark (study inflation, study brane theory, etc) and then the student should begin voraciously digesting papers, talking to others, etc to get acquainted with the field and to stimulate and hone their own interests. I just find it odd for a student to be told by others what interests him.
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