I have a Masters's degree in Communications Engineering. Right now I have been working on protein analysis, molecular dynamics, Monte Carlo, and neural networks since February 2021. I studied these topics myself while working with a research professor as those were neither part of my bachelor's nor master's. I am sending a jointly(3 persons: me, the PI, and one of the Ph.D. students under the PI) authored paper to a journal called Biomolecules for publication on Monday (11 April 2022).

I am searching FindAPhD and I am not finding enough advertisements on these topics. It looks like it is too much niche area of research.

Is having a different academic background than the research experience detrimental to the career?

  • 2
    Just a note, that website is not the only place to look and may not be the best place. You need alerts from academictransfer for Dutch opportunities, for example, and jobs.ac.uk is the real UK site. Sometimes it really does take a while for the right phd opportunity to come along. Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 4:51
  • euraxess.ec.europa.eu is the reference site for europe. It does not mean that all Phd's openings will be published there, but it is an official site from EU and it is a good starting point.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 8:14

1 Answer 1


Short answer: Often, it is even better.

Long answer: Working in a discipline that is different from your background can create very good opportunities to merge both and push the state-of-the-art in a new interdisciplinary topic, where a lot can be done. Career-wise, I will refer to two colleagues A and B:

  1. A got his bachelor's and master's degrees in environmental science and later on a PhD in machine learning (ML). From ML's perspective, his approaches are not really sophisticated but they were very welcome because they were applied to environmental science. He has an amazing publication record and could become a professor in one year after his PhD.

  2. B did his PhD in Human-Computer Interaction and after a few years as a postdoc, he introduced data science (also basic approaches) in his work and amazingly, he could publish several articles in top conferences in his area in a very short time. He also got a very good leading position because he was one of the rare researchers working in this interdiscipline.

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