I'm interested in working with Professor X for my Ph.D. My first meeting with X went very well. I like him and I get the impression that we would work well together in the graduate school environment. Moreover, the research is in a field that I am extremely interested in and I think it would be a good fit for my skills.
In speaking to the graduate students privately, I heard nothing but praise for Professor X. However, one student disclosed that he (the professor) suffers from a disability that required him to be on medical leave for over a year. The student said that this slowed the progress of research and probably delayed his Ph.D by a non-trivial amount. Otherwise, he said that he was very happy working with Professor X and would even make the same decision again.
Obviously, I think it would be inappropriate to ask Professor X about this. However, I am concerned that such a situation may arise again during the course of my Ph.D. I also don't want to discriminate against someone due to a medical condition.
So my questions are:
- How problematic is it for an advisor to be unavailable for research consultation for a long period of time?
- Is it unwise (or unethical) to make such a decision based on the disability of an advisor?
- Would it be inappropriate to ask other graduate students about his condition and how it has affected their work?
I know that the choice of advisor is often considered the most important decision about graduate school. Professor X would be my clear first choice but I'm just having second thoughts due to potential uncertainty in the future of my Ph.D.