Consider a typical mathematics postdoctoral position in the US that is assessed at departmental level and open to applicants from all research areas. Suppose that applicants are required to indicate one faculty member whose research areas overlap with those of the applicant. What would be the effect on the candidate's standing, if any, upon suggesting a Professor Emeritus particularly if the professor has the best fit concerning research interests compared to existing faculty members?

  • 3
    If you know that the emeritus professor in question remains very active, or he/she has specifically agreed to work with you if you are accepted, then this might be a good thing. Otherwise, this will probably indicate that your interests are not the best fit for that department.
    – Anonymous
    Sep 22, 2016 at 10:12
  • 2
    I'd avoid it unless you've spoken to this Emeritus professor and they want to work with you.
    – user37208
    Sep 22, 2016 at 15:36
  • We can't give you a generic answer. I suggest explicitly checking in advance with all parties involved that this is ok.
    – Bitwise
    Sep 22, 2016 at 19:21
  • @Anonymous - Suggest you put this in an Answer. Sep 22, 2016 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


Here is roughly the way it works in my department, and I imagine this is fairly typical for math research departments in the US.

  1. People apply for postdocs.
  2. The faculty review applications.
  3. Faculty who are interested in certain candidates push for them.
  4. Some committee and/or the chair decides on a ranking of the candidates individual professors are excited about.
  5. Offers are made.

For 4, typically getting a postdoc for an emeritus professor will have very low priority, and unless the emeritus prof is active, they probably wouldn't push for you anyway. I believe that emeriti typically don't even have permission to look at applications.

However, I think it's a little weird that they require you to name one faculty with common interests. I don't remember ever seeing this when I applied. (Is it exactly one? If not, you could mention regular and emeritus faculty. If so, maybe that is to assign that faculty member to review your application.) My suggestion (say if you can only name exactly one) is to choose a regular (non-retired) faculty member, but possibly mention the emeritus professor in your cover letter. If you think the emeritus professor is still active and would be interested in having you there, maybe send them an email to let them know you applied. Then they might discuss your application with other faculty.

  • 1
    In actual fact, they do not demand exactly one, but I just wanted to ask in this hypothetical way and to consider this case on its own.
    – Nirav
    Sep 23, 2016 at 4:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .