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I am a master's student in Applied Math with two undergraduate degrees in physics and math. There is a professor who is coming to my university to give a talk on his research, and I read his abstract for the presentation as well as part of his most recent publication and I really would like to work with him doing this over the summer. He is from a National Lab I have interned in before as an undergrad. There is almost no programs for graduate students at that lab and, since I am an international student, I am ineligible for the only one I found there. Is there any way for me to approach him to ask him for the possibility of working with him?

I have a pretty strong research background, and professors I work with at my university will be at the talk he is giving. I don't know if this could help me in any way.

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I would send an email a week or so before the visit, saying about what you have said here and asking if the two of you could have a conversation during the visit. That would be better, I think, that surprising him at the talk. It will give him a chance to review any opportunities that there might be. He might also think of others who might be able to help you.

If you just surprise him with a request he won't have that opportunity to think about it, and the circumstances of the visit might make it impossible to make contact in an ad hoc manner.

But if there is nothing he can do for you directly, perhaps the contact can develop into something longer term.

  • The meeting is pretty soon. I scheduled for a talk with him though. – The Bosco Feb 15 at 23:50
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Yeah, just talk to him after the talk. Maybe even get onto his schedule or take him to lunck or the like. Talk to whoever is sponsoring his talk (introducing him). Usually, these guys have a bunch of 1 on 1s they do with the faculty. No promise, but if you don't ask, you don't get. But even if no scheduled meeting, can pigeonhole him.

Also, I would be open to a general conversation. You're interested in his work. Maybe he'll be interested in yours. Don't just make it "got a slot for me?" but a conversation on research.

  • I suspect you meant to buttonhole him, not to pigeonhole him. – Andreas Blass Feb 16 at 3:04

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