Faculty Sponsor

The Function of the Major Professor

  1. Makes all arrangements for financial support.  All students are expected to be on financial support. The major professor will arrange with the program or home department for financial support.  Types of assistanships are:
    • GTA - Graduate Teaching Assistantship
    • GRA - Graduate Research Assistantship
    • GFRA - Grant Funded Research Assistantship
    For additional information regarding assistantships, please see our assistantships and funding page
  2. Direct the student in research and course work

No student is admitted to this program without a major professor except for the special case of approved laboratory rotations where two or more sponsors have been identified.

Occasionally situations change after admission making it necessary for a student to switch major professors. Any student wishing to switch their major advisor must contact the Program Director or Associate Director for guidance.

How to Obtain a Sponsor

  1. The best way to contact faculty is through email. Email links are available from the program website on the Program Faculty Research Page
  2. Before emailing specific faculty, the applicant should consult the faculty members personal web pages and become familiar with the faculty member's research program
  3. Email contact with the prospective faculty member should include:
    1. The subject area should include something like: Prospective Graduate Application or CEMB Applicant
    2. Whether you are considering or have already applied to the program,
    3. Which degree program (MS or PhD) and the year and semester you would prefer to be admitted (including if you are flexible)
    4. Statements about the links between your research interests and the faculty member's research
    5. Personalize the email relative to the faculty member's research. The applicant must show they have researched this specific faculty member. Speak to the contents of recent publications from the faculty member (citing findings and the topic), and then relate your background and career goals.
    6. Briefly, who you are, and why you are contacting them, what is your degree history and from what institution(s).
    7. Indicate your financial needs and request a response pertaining to the opportunities to join the research group and receive an assistantship (including whether you would qualify for a teaching assistantship, or would be interested in one). 
    8. When emailing faculty you may need to send several emails. Send them a personalized email and if you don't receive a response then follow up in a few days. After 3 or 4 emails, if they don't answer then they are evidently not going to respond. It generally is good to be in contact with many faculty to find one with an available position. 
    9. Once you have obtained a faculty sponsor, your faculty member will need to go to the Current Faculty & Students page and submit the applicant sponsorship form. 
    View an example of an email to a faculty member

Generic form letters rarely work

  1. Faculty receive lots of emails addressed: Dear Sir/Madam, that express an interest but don't really relate to their research. Most of these end up discarded without a response.
  2. Form letters often contain some question like: Would you please tell me about the research going on in your laboratory and any research opportunities in your group? This indicates that the inquirer has not done any initial work. Faculty have web pages that describe their research work and most have links to recent publications. These emails usually get discarded.
  3. Not all inquiries will receive a response. Do not expect every faculty member to respond.
  4. Similar emails can be sent to the program director asking for assistance in identifying suitable faculty members to contact. In this instance you need include the same information as above, which faculty interest you, which faculty you have contacted and which faculty have responded.