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I recently applied for a research based degree and I have indeed been offered admission (with funding), scheduled to start this fall.

Prior to my acceptance, I had an interview with my prospective advisor and we both seemed to have similar interests, so they recommended me for admission. Most of the funding is indeed coming from the supervisor rather than the department.

The supervisor is a newly-hired assistant professor, just starting out and building up the group from scratch, so I didn't really have much information regarding the available projects and research directions they intend to pursue other than a short summary. We discussed a possible proposed project and even potential collaborations with other groups in the department (one of the potential collaborators was also present during the interview). I was definitely happy with the project and was looking forward to working on it, but I wouldn't say that it was perfectly 100% aligned with what I had hoped to work on. I accepted the offer and that was that. The offer letter mentions that I will be under the supervision of this professor, so that seems set in stone (no complaints so far).

Recently, this professor launched a website for the new group (came across it by chance), complete with a detailed list of all the projects they want to pursue and is still actively recruiting. On reading more about these projects, there is one in particular which I would be very excited to work on (significantly more than my 'proposed' project).

My question is, would it be OK to contact this professor now and to perhaps intimate to them or suggest that I would prefer to work on one of the other projects listed? Or to maybe influence the direction of my proposed project?

I am hesitant because I don't want to come across as indecisive and scatterbrained, and I do understand that the professor might be recruiting certain students with certain skills to work on specific projects, so I do get why my this request might upset the professor. I don't want them to feel that I conned them into accepting me on a false premise. At the same time, I would really rather work on this other project and would like to signal this to them as early as possible, before it is 'taken' by another student.

Should I initiate this discussion now? Or should I maybe wait till I arrive in the fall? Is it even too premature to be worrying about such things? Am I over-thinking this perhaps?

Would appreciate any input. Thanks.

  • Presumably these projects are related as they are in the same lab? – Dawn Mar 12 at 18:14
  • Yes, there is considerable overlap between the projects as you said, but I feel they are sufficiently different to warrant bringing this matter up with the professor. – Zelinusa Mar 12 at 18:37

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