Are you interested in pursuing a PhD with me?
Great! Please read a few of my papers and see if you are still interested. Then, send me an email to start a conversation about the possibility. Let me know about the research that interests you and why, your past research experience, and what motivates you to pursue graduate work. Tell me where you see yourself five years after graduating with your PhD. Of course, no one really knows where they’ll be, so I don’t think of this as a commitment to a career plan, but rather a visioning of how you see yourself contributing to the world. (This is a question I’ve been known to ask students throughout their grad career; there isn’t a right answer).
Choosing a thesis topic is really important. It must engage you, fully. Getting a PhD is intense, and it’s intensely fun when you find the right mix. Your thesis topic is one you will fully own by the time you graduate, and the sooner the better. That said, I do not subscribe to the sink or swim PhD model where you are solely responsible for finding the right topic. My best experiences advising PhD students are when we arrive at a topic together, one that interests both of us. That way, you can leverage my experience working in this field, and bring to it your creativity, vision, and insight that pushes the field in new directions.
My students are supported by research grants, by their own grants or fellowships, and by departmental teaching assistantships. Sources of funding vary among students, but most combine support from teaching and research assistantships. I am a big fan of students attempting to find their own funding; grant writing is an important part of graduate training.