I'm a second year graduate school mathematics student. Due to my university regulation, I didn't have a thesis advisor yet. During my first year of grad school, I passed Qualification exam. So this year soon, I have to choose a professor as my thesis advisor(Tutor, guide). I attended some several course only related to pure mathematics such as PDE(Partial differential equation), Numerical mathematics analysis, Mathematical statistics, Real analysis, and Abstract algebra.

As you all know, choosing an thesis advisor is the crucial time in my mathematics life. But it is (generally) hard to decide what the field which professor I choose. But in the first year, I have some professor in mind from their lecture.

One professor, his major is Stochastic PDE(SPDE) which is pure mathematics. The other person is majoring in climate change specialized in El nino(ENSO) and la Nina who is a joint professor from School of Environmental Science and Engineering(JA). I went to both professor, SPDE twice, JA once. And I noticed that two professor are joining their work(co-working) these days, and are very close.

I got some comments from them :

  1. First joint professor said(in short) : Welcome. But I'm almost unaware of mathematics. So I can't help you in math field. If you want you can work jointly with SPDE professor.
  2. Second, SPDE professor said : Welcome. But you'd better go to JA. If you really want, I can accept you. (After I asked I need his help on studying mathematics if I choose JA) I don't know I can help you. The area is different so that the basic language is different.

In this point, I have two questions.

  1. Are there some cases that a math student choose a non-mathematician thesis advisor? My final goal is to be a professor. Then is there any drawback?
  2. Any suggestion for me? I'm a little nervous. If I choose JA, it must be a big challenge for me. I haven't learnt 'Climate theory'.

Thanks in advance.

  • 4
    Anyway, just to weigh in on your precise question: there must have been a math student who had (only) a non-mathematician as her primary advisor and for whom the arrangement worked out well, but as a general rule this seems like a very bad idea. – Pete L. Clark Jan 25 '17 at 15:38
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    @kayak Well, both of them seem unable and unwilling to advise you – sgf Jan 25 '17 at 15:46
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    @Buzz Hi. I really want to hear your story. If okay, please answer to my questions. – kayak Jan 25 '17 at 16:35
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    @kayak: As others have said, it seems that neither wants to advise you. But to be honest, I don't feel that I understand your situation clearly. For instance, you characterize the two professors as being collaborators, but the way they describe each other's fields makes it sound like they have almost no common ground. Also you don't say that you are especially interested in the mathematics of climate theory, and you took courses in several other topics. So why not approach these other professors and find one who is enthusiastic to work with you? – Pete L. Clark Jan 25 '17 at 19:41
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    First, you need to read some climate theory papers to see what sort of math is involved. Then, if you still want to work with the climate theorist, you may need to declare an applied math concentration, or switch to an applied math field. Please note that the questions you posed here can be posed to your department's director of graduate studies too, and s/he will be in a better position to advise you. (My advisor's home department was not the same as mine (applied math), but he did have some kind of no-salary joint appointment in applied math. Note, there are rules about outside advisors. – aparente001 Jan 26 '17 at 4:52

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