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This document explains my philosophy of advising research students (primarily Ph.D. students) in the hopes that it will clarify whether you want to work with me. It is inspired by Favonia’s advising statement.


This document applies to any of my research advisees, which include:

  • Ph.D. students who list me as a thesis advisor or take a “readings” class with me
  • Postdoctoral researchers I have hired
  • Masters thesis students who list me as their thesis advisor
  • Undergraduate students taking an independent study, bachelor’s thesis, or REU (research experience for undergraduates) with me as their mentor

My job as an advisor is to evaluate you (as a supervisor) and guide you (as a mentor). I will promote you and your work to my professional network during and after your degree, provide recommendation letters, pass along opportunities, and potentially nominate you for awards and fellowships.

For Ph.D. students especially, your advisor has a significant long-term impact on your academic and professional life, and you should give a lot of thought to who you choose.

Inclusivity, Health, and Disability

The most important item for me to list here is that I take very seriously the “care work” aspect of research advising. That is to say, I care about you as a human being first and foremost, and your research productivity will never eclipse your health and well-being as the top priority to me. Also, I don’t really think of “knowledge work” and “care work” as separable: you must be physically and psychologically safe and well in order to learn, think clearly, and make advances in your field. (For more elaboration on this point, see Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.)

If you belong to an underrepresented group in your program or face marginalization in society more generally, e.g. due to race, gender, disability, or economic class, you are likely to encounter barriers and challenging experiences in academia that your more socially-normative colleagues do not even perceive. I care about perceiving these barriers with you and helping you confront them. I want you to be able to bring your “whole self”, including your cultural background and all aspects of your identity you care about, to my lab and to the world of research, especially if that means making changes to our approach and our culture to better accommodate that expression. Let’s work together to dismantle academic monoculture.

Speaking of working together, I’m a fervent believer that “we know more than I know” and that we can take much better care of one another as a community than I can do as a single “hub” of supposed expertise, and than any of us can do alone with “self care.” When you join the POEM lab, you’ll get access to our Slack group, which connects you to all other members — please use this tool however it best suits your needs. Check in on your labmates, and let them know when you need help — there’s a good chance you can meet each other’s needs. Try to see research as a mutually supportive activity rather than a zero-sum competition.

Finally, I am a believer in the social model of disability, which is to say that disability is not an inherent property of *bodies* (or brains) but of systems, structures, and environments that work to disable people. I do not believe in eugenicist notions of “intelligence”/cognitive ability or physical ability, and I believe you can succeed in research whether or not you conform to such ideas. If by default, systems and structures disable you, I want my research group to be a space that enables you. I will never ask any advisee to disclose a disability, but if you express to me what you need to thrive, I will always do my best to address those needs. I also recognize that student work can take on many rhythms, paces, and timelines, and I will try my best to learn yours and stay flexible with deadlines and working hours as long as that flexibility helps you meet your goals.

More to come

This document is a work in progress. I also have an “onboarding document” for all new advisees that I will send you when you join. (If I forget, please let me know.)