Posted by: unlikelygrad | January 20, 2011

choosing a committee

Last summer, before Dr. Hand-Waver left for sabbatical, I mentioned to her that I probably should get my committee together before she left. (My unspoken thoughts: That way, if I can’t get a hold of you when you’re 2000 miles away, I might have someone to turn to for help.)

Her response was something along the lines of, “Yeah, but you don’t know what your project is going to be yet, so wait.” (What I read into this was one of two possibilities: (1) I’m busy now, I don’t want to think about it. or (2) I’ve gotten good feedback on the DoE project I submitted a few months ago, and if I get it, that will be your project. You’d need a very different committee for that than for the stuff you’re doing now.)

In any case, I kept asking every so often and she kept putting me off. Until now–finally, we are starting to discuss who should be on the committee. Alas, choosing a committee is even more complicated than usual when you are in an interdisciplinary program.

For example, there are two departments in this program and theoretically they communicate. But in reality hardly any of the professors in my department talk with people in the other department and vice versa. Yet, per program guidelines, my committee has to have a member from the other department who understands the technical aspects of my thesis. I honestly don’t know who would qualify for this.

From what I understand, it’s pretty standard for grad students to have someone on their committee who is not from their department. In my case, it has to be someone who is not only not in my home department but also is not a part of the interdisciplinary program (which basically means I can write off everyone in the other department). This will probably be someone from Environmental Engineering, but unfortunately the people I know best in that department are…drumroll…affiliated with my interdisciplinary program. *sigh*

I guess I just have to see how this turns out…



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fordham GSAS, GradShare. GradShare said: A new blog from The Unlikely Grad Student, "Choosing a Committee" […]

  2. […] finally get around to choosing a committee. I also write one of my more popular posts of all time, asking readers to ponder who they want to […]

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