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I am currently pursuing a physics major and am in my second year at university. Currently, I am working on a project with a professor from a different university on quantum matter wave scattering, who is an engineer. But I want to specialize in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics for my Ph.D. I am concerned about how the chosen topic may impact my Ph.D. application in Theoretical/Mathematical Physics.

Could the nature of my current project affect my application negatively? And is the professor being an engineer going to affect the application? He has some paper on Nature though, on quantum mechanics related topics (but all of them are application based).

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  • Ummmm… a professor doing research on quantum scattering is dismissed as a mere ‘engineer’??? Wow, just wow.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 19 at 14:37

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You don't say where you are, but in the US, at least, it should have no effect. Any research experience is valuable and here it is possible, even typical, to make quite large changes when entering a doctoral program.

But I doubt that many places would treat any undergraduate research in a related field as a negative. And certainly not a one-way gate closing off all other paths. If you do well, it is much more likely to be a plus than anything.

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  • Yes I was talking about US specifically. Thank you. Commented Jan 19 at 14:25
  • Same in Europe.
    – The Doctor
    Commented Jan 19 at 14:29

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