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REU program Letters of recommendation

  1. Oct 19, 2011 #1
    I plan on applying for an REU program this summer. I know my research mentor will write a very good recommendation, and is well-known in the field. However, I have no other connections. The applications are due in March, so I think I shouldn't place too much stock in next semester's professors. I don't particularly like the professor of my only "major" class (ChemE), but I do like my math professor and have had him for two semesters (albeit, I don't go to office hours or speak up in class, but I do well and he knows my name). Should I start attending his office hours just for this purpose? Or should I suck up to my ChemE prof?

    OR, is it acceptable to get a graduate student or postdoc to write a LOR? Both of these see me every day in the lab.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 19, 2011 #2
    Note: I've not personally been involved with selection of REU students before to really accurately judge. That said:

    First, a strong recommendation from a current research advisor will probably make a pretty strong application, so you just need a supplemental 2nd (presumably required) letter that probably doesn't have to be terribly strong unless you're applying to an extremely competitive REU program.

    So.. I'd go for either (a) the math professor that knows you well (and no, since you are doing well in his class you don't need to go to his office hours unless you feel you want to discuss some extra non-course required topics and those discussions might improve such a letter when the time for it to be written comes) or (b) the postdoc that knows your work in the lab (not the grad student... he/she does have some supervision over you, but doesn't yet have probably a high enough professional standing).
  4. Oct 22, 2011 #3
    Thanks for the advice. I'm hesitant to ask the post doc because while we do speak almost every day, we are working on completely different aspects of somewhat unrelated projects (they share basically one main thing in common)...so we never work together. I'm glad to hear that my math prof will be acceptable. :)
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