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Wise choice of graduate direction

  1. Jul 10, 2008 #1
    I'm about to graduate and I should choose my graduation thesis. My choice will probably determine my PhD area of research so I want to choose wisely. That's why I need some help from guys who are deep in research waters.

    My areas of interests are solid state physics and plasma physics. My preference is theoretical, but, bottom line is that I will have to do physics for living so this is not too important.

    My questions are following:
    What are most researched subjects in fore mentioned areas of physics, ie. where can most grant money (or to rephrase, jobs and research projects) be found? I may also consider working within industry or finance in some later years so I would appreciate any advice considering this possibility.

    Oh, and to mention that I'm currently in Europe, but that I'm equally interested in prospects in North America.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2008 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Deciding what areas to specialize in because of where the money is today is unwise:

    1) Nobody in physics is in it for the money. If you don't truly enjoy what you do and/or don't find your research topic genuinely interesting, you will be a lot happier doing something else.

    2) Where the money is today is not where the money will be tomorrow. There is fashion in physics, and some research is trendy, but trends eventually wear out.
  4. Jul 10, 2008 #3
    My point here is that I want to gather as much experience and work while I am still young and enthusiastic. I am searching for something within plasma physics and solid state physics because these are areas I am most interested in. Although there are some special areas within them I don't find particularly interesting and on which I don't think I would work, even if the opportunity arose, at this point I have pretty much same interest in, for example, superconductivity and nanotubes (that is, those are all very interesting subjects for me). So, from interest point of view, scale is pretty much at level, and the thing that will prevail is matter of opportunity for work and publications some areas promise today and in, say, next 5-6 years.
  5. Jul 10, 2008 #4
    In condensed matter/solid state, the big word is microelectronics (or nanoelectronics for the buzz). This is the driving force which makes sold state one the largest fields of physics today. Solar energy is also becoming big in this field. These two areas is where you'll find a lot of interest in nanomaterials.

    In plasma, a large area of research done in plasma confinement for fusion applications. At a less degree, plasma processing still garners some attention as it is useful for the fabrication of microelectronics and nanomaterials.

    These are just very few examples, there are more.
  6. Jul 10, 2008 #5
    I don't think there's anything wrong with a young scientist, having already established their interest in science, looking for lucrative research topics. This is significantly different from the threads I've seen here more akin to "my ultimate goal is to be rich. Should I be a physicist or a CPA?"

    If your research topic is uninteresting (to you), being a physicist can be absolute torture. If you are a young scientist with an extremely interesting (again, to you) but completely unfundable research program, look forward to several frustrating post-doctoral appointments and then finding for a new career. There's a lot to be said for finding the happy medium.
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