I have a professor that I've gotten to know pretty well. Currently we're going through and learning about a newer area of mathematics just for the fun of it. It was my idea to do it and now he's looking to do more with it. He wants to do research on an application of this area of math next summer through next fall. We plan to continue studying this area for this coming apring semester as well, but I would love to actually work on this project with him.

Because we know each other so well, I think he would enjoy me working with him on it overall. The problem is that he's going abroad to do the research. What I want to know is if there's any potential for me to work with him on this and on whether or not I should ask him for the opportunity? Or should I just wait and see if he approaches me on it?

I should point out that I will have graduated by next summer.

  • I talked to my professor. We talked a little bit about what I could do for the project, how we would communicate and what he would need to figure out before saying yes or no. We have our weekly meeting tomorrow and I'm sure he'll have more to say on the matter. Knowing him he's probably pretty much made a decision already. I definitely don't think he would have asked me about, though, because he chuckled when I brought it up as if it hadn't crossed his mind. But thank you guys for encouraging me to talk to him! Oct 24, 2016 at 22:53

2 Answers 2


Yes, you should ask! Don't be shy -- there's nothing at all to lose. In the worst case, he'll point out that the logistics of collaborating remotely are hard, or something like that. No one is ever upset that someone is enthusiastic about working with them. If you're worried about the lost opportunities of doing research with someone more local: having a project you like and an advisor you work well with seems far more important than local convenience here -- it's not like you're in a field that needs a lab and hands-on training.

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    To add to this -- even if he's not willing to attempt the long-distance advising position, he's still a fantastic reference who can point out other professors who you might be able to work with.
    – tonysdg
    Oct 19, 2016 at 18:08

It sounds like fun, but shouldn't your primary focus right now, in the area of planning for the future, be on figuring out what structure you want your life to have after you graduate? It sounds like the idea of doing research is intriguing for you. If so, you may want to apply to grad school.

Perhaps this particular professor and this particular project will be compatible with that.

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    I have every intention to go to grad school. Potentially it could he a question of working with him on the project now and applying to grad shool later or doing both at the same time. Oct 24, 2016 at 22:48
  • @SarahWilson - sounds like a plan. I suggest you take a look at the testing and application due dates and make yourself a calendar. Research can be very absorbing and I wouldn't want you to miss any deadlines while you're having fun with a project. Oct 25, 2016 at 3:13

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