Undergrad Research project and PhD's

  • #1
Hi all, during my degree (which of now im in the master's year) I have to do a year long research project. This project I had to select from a list of which only one of them was quantum mechanics related (for a theorist), of course this made it popular and I didn't get my first choice and ended up with a project on polymers and transitions of phase under electric fields. Now I've always wanted to do my PhD in an area involving quantum mechanics, more specifically quantum computing does the fact that my project is a different area hurt my chances for successful applications for PhD is QM? or would the research project mainly be seen as experience in what it's like to be a research and how well I can perform?
 

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  • #2
Dr. Courtney
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Hi all, during my degree (which of now im in the master's year) I have to do a year long research project. This project I had to select from a list of which only one of them was quantum mechanics related (for a theorist), of course this made it popular and I didn't get my first choice and ended up with a project on polymers and transitions of phase under electric fields. Now I've always wanted to do my PhD in an area involving quantum mechanics, more specifically quantum computing does the fact that my project is a different area hurt my chances for successful applications for PhD is QM? or would the research project mainly be seen as experience in what it's like to be a research and how well I can perform?

It depends on the preferences of those evaluating your application. Many potential advisers will prefer students with prior research experience in the same field both to ensure that the students like the area (so they won't jump ship) and to ensure they are good at it.

Quantum computing is a relatively small field, but quantum mechanics is not. Odds are the project in polymers and phase transitions is closer to statistical mechanics and would lead more naturally to further work in condensed matter or a field that uses statistical mechanics heavily.

I think your best course given your situation would be to do a great job on your assigned project so that at least you have a great letter of recommendation and hopefully a publication. You might consider brainstorming about a side project in quantum mechanics that you could complete and submit for publication. This would maximize your appeal for grad shool to potential research advisers.
 
  • #3
It depends on the preferences of those evaluating your application. Many potential advisers will prefer students with prior research experience in the same field both to ensure that the students like the area (so they won't jump ship) and to ensure they are good at it.

Quantum computing is a relatively small field, but quantum mechanics is not. Odds are the project in polymers and phase transitions is closer to statistical mechanics and would lead more naturally to further work in condensed matter or a field that uses statistical mechanics heavily.

I think your best course given your situation would be to do a great job on your assigned project so that at least you have a great letter of recommendation and hopefully a publication. You might consider brainstorming about a side project in quantum mechanics that you could complete and submit for publication. This would maximize your appeal for grad shool to potential research advisers.

Sorry for the late reply (internet issues)!

Thank you, I understand statistical mechanics project wont help me go onto quantum mechanics and its mainly why I was worried, Doing a extra project right now isnt really possible with the workload I have so doing my best and getting a great letter of recommendation is the way to go right now. I mean even if that doesn't help in applying for a QM PhD, Its never too late to leave it a year and get some QM research experience, if thats possible?
 
  • #4
Dr. Courtney
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Sorry for the late reply (internet issues)!

Thank you, I understand statistical mechanics project wont help me go onto quantum mechanics and its mainly why I was worried, Doing a extra project right now isnt really possible with the workload I have so doing my best and getting a great letter of recommendation is the way to go right now. I mean even if that doesn't help in applying for a QM PhD, Its never too late to leave it a year and get some QM research experience, if thats possible?

I'd go ahead and make your applications with the idea of waiting another year to get AM research experience a Plan B if you do not get accepted.
 

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