Students wishing to work with me for M.S./PhD

If you are already a student at CU Boulder, you should just come chat with me! This page is for students who are not or not yet enrolled in our mathematics department graduate program, who sometimes write to me to ask for advice and whether I have room for a student.

A few important points:

  • US grad programs do not typically involve choosing an advisor until later in the program. So typically you apply to a school, not a person. In our program, students choose an advisor in their second or third year, and they have to be open to working with a variety of people, because they don’t know who it will be. If you like the look of our program, please apply!
  • I can’t promise availability. Sometimes I have a lot of students, sometimes just a few, and I can’t promise to take on a student until after they have completed their first year or two of our program and we have met and gotten to know each other. So there’s no such thing as “applying to work with me.” There’s only applying to our program as a whole.
  • I don’t run a “lab.” We don’t typically have a “lab” style arrangement (such as seen in other sciences including sometimes computer science). Thesis work is done as part of a one-on-one relationship with an advisor.
  • Cryptography is only part of what I do, and the cryptography I do is very mathematical. If you are interested in cryptography, you should be aware that the type of program you would have here is aimed at mathematics research. My students are mathematicians first and foremost, some of whom study math that relates to cryptography. So the program involves the full spectrum of mathematical education in all core research areas, and the thesis involves writing mathematical proofs about mathematical underpinnings. It does not normally address applications or protocols, except tangentially. I have plenty of students who don’t do anything related to cryptography.
  • Our program is mainly aimed at PhD (not terminal masters) students. This may change, but at the moment our coursework and program design is aimed at these students, and most of our students are PhD students.
  • If this all sounds good to you, you are welcome to email me!

Advice on applying here:

  • Research experience. It helps a lot to have a letter from someone who has experienced mathematical research with you, through an REU or independent study. It is important not just to have done the work, but to have a mentor who was there first hand write about this.
  • Graduate course experience. Very important is for the committee to be confident about your preparation — specifically whether you have enough mathematical experience, background and skills to hit the ground running in the first few years of coursework. One excellent way to demonstrate this is with core graduate courses, if you have access to these. By “core” I mean graduate courses which are part of the main core requirements of a Masters or PhD program, because these courses are often the most rigorous in terms of grading. If you have taken graduate courses, core or elective, having a professor from these courses write a letter for you is most helpful.
  • Get letters from mathematicians. There’s only somewhat limited information that we can obtain from academics in other disciplines and from supervisors at workplaces. A mathematician’s letter is usually the most helpful.
  • How will you participate in our community? We’re looking for students who will build a solid supportive community. It would be excellent if your file can demonstrate this.