I'll be completing my Ph.D. soon, and am reaching out to people who I'd like to serve as my mentor. Two questions with regards to "academically" retired researchers:

  1. If I have external funding, would emeritus faculty be interested in mentoring a postdoc?
  2. If I don't have external funding (so would require my mentor to fund me), would a retired researcher from a research institution, or retired faculty, take on a postdoc, i.e., willing to spend time with and pay someone?

I have never seen this happen (though I haven't really looked into this), so I'd like to know if being a postdoc for someone retired is even possible. Both people I'm considering are still somewhat active in research (publishing papers, responding to emails).

  • Speaking on behalf of all retired researchers is not easy/possible, however I think it would go a little something like: "How did you get this number!? Just when I thought I was out..." Mar 18, 2016 at 21:34
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    @J.J I believe the OP is asking about someone who is in academic retirement, not factual retirement.
    – LCW
    Mar 19, 2016 at 0:03
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    I think it still applies that it depends on the specifics of the researcher, and when/why they retired, and that this question cannot possibly have a generic solution. Mar 19, 2016 at 15:04
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    And there's a deeper question: will a retired researcher be a good mentor? Usually they are not that eager to publish, which can hurt your CV... Mar 19, 2016 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


I'm sure you'll find people who are "retired" (from administrative duties, from chasing the next funding proposal) and still are hard at work, while others just want to stay at home and look at the lake in front of the window.

If one of them would take you on as mentoree (made up word, I know) is anybody's guess. Perhaps they retired in part to be free of having to deal with pesky students. Maybe you are so outstanding that you lure the hermit back into active work.

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    mentee - a person who is advised, trained, or counseled by a mentor.
    – emory
    Mar 19, 2016 at 21:27

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