Good academic advisors

«So you were an artist. Big deal! Elvis was an artist. But that didn’t stop him from volunteering for the military in time of service. And that’s why he’s The King, and you’re a schmuck.»
Serendipity in «Dogma» (1999)

In case anyone missed it reading through the lines, my PhD thesis experience wasn’t that great. I met a lot of great people, people I respect, people who really wanted to achieve something. But my doctoral advisor … well, in Germany it’s called “Doktorvater” (literally: doctor father), and he was abroad most of the time (“Mein Doktorvater war die meiste Zeit auf See.”).

So it’s nice to see  what is possible in a good department. A department in which the professor cares about his PhD students and wants to show them the rope. I noticed it when I realized just how often this person puts the whole department in cc in eMail communication. There isn’t really a need to put the whole department (all PhD students — and often, even the student assistants) in cc. Unless, of course, you want to demonstrate how certain things are done.

And this can be a lot, from writing succinct but effect emails to starting whole projects.

As someone who is already a PhD (well, actually, Dr. rer. nat., so rerum naturarum, so doctor of natural sciences IIRC), it’s both interesting and encouraging to see: Here is someone who cares about his doctoral students.

I did already notice such a person in Bonn when I was working as a student assistant. Perhaps one of the best supervisors I ever had. A pity the University of Bonn couldn’t keep him and he went to Switzerland. He was someone who cared about good work and was able to inspire actual loyalty.

Nice to see this person wasn’t the exception.

There is more than one competent prof.


Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash