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I recently found out one of my undergraduate supervisors/mentors has been accepted as a visiting fellow at MIT. If all goes to plan, he'll be at MIT starting next fall.

I'm a senior year student of physics, and I have already planned to take at least a year off before applying to graduate schools in theoretical/mathematical physics. If the professor isn't around, I'm pretty much left stranded. In a small department, he's the only one who does research in theoretical/fundamental/high energy physics.

After congratulating him on getting this position, how should I go about inquiring about my status from him? Also, we used to have another professor, say X, in the department (kicked out, unfortunately) with interests in mathematical physics. The professor in question, Y, is in good terms with professor X. How can I potentially ask professor Y to recommend me as a student to professor X, assuming professor Y won't be available starting next fall?

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    Had you already agreed to work with the professor during your year off? In some cases, working with non-current students is a very low priority for faculty, as it wouldn't "count" as mentoring student research. If you had, is it possible that you could keep working with him during his sabbatical (either by relocating yourself, or remotely)? – Nate Eldredge Feb 14 '17 at 1:20
  • @NateEldredge Yes, that's the plan. He's the one who recommended me (and a whole host of other students in previous years) to take a year off. And I have to do that as well given my circumstances. I'm not sure how he'll respond when I have a conversation with him, but I can always refer to our "larger plans" in case I initially don't get a positive response from him. – Junaid Aftab Feb 14 '17 at 1:23
  • If you are already in the U.S., you could consider relocating with Prof. Y, and registering for one credit independent study at MIT as a non-matriculated student. // For the recommendation to Prof. X, that seems quite straightforward. I don't understand what you're finding challenging about this request. (I do understand that you may have a mix of feelings about Prof. Y leaving, though -- happy for him, but perhaps feeling that he is leaving you high and dry.) – aparente001 Feb 14 '17 at 4:50
  • @aparente001 Nope, we're not in the US. Both professor Y and I are currently in Pakistan. You're right; I'm not sure about my status as of now, and I am not sure how/what to talk about with professor Y. – Junaid Aftab Feb 14 '17 at 4:58
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    Do you want a suggestion for what to say when you meet, or what to say in an email? // Do you feel a mix of feelings, as I was thinking perhaps is the case? // Can you explain why this is difficult? If I understand that I can make a targeted suggestion. – aparente001 Feb 14 '17 at 22:24

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