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Since I also like the people in my department, it would be nice if I could finish the degree at my current institution, but there's one issue: the research interests of professors here. I had some idea going in about the type of research I'd want to pursue, and throughout this year I've become more and more convinced this area would be the perfect niche for me.

For my fellow math/physics people out there, I'm really fascinated in mathematical General Relativity. I always knew I was interested in the physics of the theory, but my course load this past year has taught me that I also really like the math behind it (PDEs and differential geometry). So it feels like a perfect fit. The only problem is that nobody in my department is involved in the mathematical GR community. There are some profs here with related research interests (PDEs in complex geometry, Fluid dynamics on relativistic backgrounds), but noone doing bang-on what I want to do.

Naturally the uncertainty is getting to me, and the way I see it I have 3 options:

- Pursue GR research independently under the supervision of a professor here
- Find a different research area
- Transfer PhD programs

The second option is a little more viable. There are other topics that appeal to me that professors here are working on; for example many-body quantum systems are an active area that I could get on board with. But it would be somewhat disappointing to give up on my original vision.

Transferring is an option that I'm seriously considering right now. I've looked into where mathematical GR is happening and who is currently working on it. I have a list of five or six places that I would apply to later this year if I decided to go ahead with it. But I'm not sure how common it is to transfer mid-Phd program. Would the fact that I'm already enrolled in a PhD program help or hurt my chances of getting into these places? Would the admissions committees be skeptical about me? I'm mostly looking at places with roughly the same academic ranking as the program I'm at right now, but a few are probably a tier above mine. Would I have a realistic shot at these too?

Whether or not professors here would write letters of rec knowing they would be allowing me to leave the program, and even just getting letters of rec with little research experience here in the first place, is another issue. But that's another issue for another post :)