Information for prospective students

Thank you for taking the time to look at these web pages. I appreciate your interest in our research and in the activities of our group. Please be aware that I receive a very large number of e-mail inquiries from prospective students wishing to be involved with my research group. Unfortunately there are far too many for me to reasonably give a response to each one. I regret that I cannot reply to messages that are so important to the people who send them. This web page is designed to give you some useful information about the process and potential for joining my research group.

Below you will find information for prospective graduate, undergraduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.

Sincerely,
Sean Andersson

(Thanks to Allison Okamura for allowing me utilize similar text from her page.)


I am very excited about the possibility of working with exceptional M.S./Ph.D. students. In order to be a good advisor and mentor, I want to spend a significant amount of time with each of my graduate students. Unfortunately, this means that I cannot agree to advise every qualified student who wishes to join my group. When considering applicants, there are of course a variety of factors that are considered. Research experience (especially with publications) in a control theoretic area is a definite advantage, particularly when that research is aligned with my own interests. Before contacting me about joining my research group, please read the following responses to a few frequently asked questions (FAQs).

What are your current research projects?

To see the types of research activities currently taking place in my laboratory, please consult the research and publication pages of this site. In general, each M.S. and Ph.D. student in my group has his or her own thesis project, developed in collaboration with me, so current projects do not necessarily reflect potential thesis topics. They do, however, reflect my broad interests.

Do you have any openings in your lab?

Many prospective students send me resume-style information in the hopes that my research group has “positions” to fill in the sense of a typical job. My group, however, does not operate this way. In most cases, it is appropriate for students to first spend some time at BU taking courses and/or working on mini-projects with me before officially joining my group. After a semester or two, they can refine their interests and determine whether my research area is exciting to them. This time gives the opportunity to determine whether the student and myself are a suitable match in terms of technical background, motivation, personality, and so on.

Do you have funding (research or teaching assistantships)?

For research assistantships, the most correct, though vague answer, is “perhaps.” In general, there is funding for the right student at the right time. I do not generally have specific “funded positions” on particular projects. Rather, I aim to take on students who are the best overall match to my research areas and then develop the work into projects based on skill, interest, and other factors. Teaching assistantships are dealt with at the department level and asĀ  result I have no control over them. Please note that as a general policy, assistantships are targeted at Ph.D. students rather than M.S. students.

Will I be accepted into the graduate program/your lab?

I cannot answer this question based on information provided by e-mail. The only way to know whether you will be accepted is to submit a complete application. Applications are reviewed and decisions made by the department Graduate Committee rather than individual faculty members. You should note on the application that you are interested in working with me.

Can I visit your lab or talk with you on the phone?

In general, I prefer to meet with students who have already applied to the program. The department generally invites some fraction of domestic applicants to the department during the spring semester to meet potential faculty advisors, tour research labs, and get a feel for the department.


Undergraduate research is an excellent opportunity to develop new skills while working closely with faculty and graduate students. I believe strongly in such opportunities and do my best to offer as many of them as I can. This typically means 2-4 funded positions during the academic year and 1-2 funded positions during the summer Available positions are usually posted on the BU UROP page.

In my opinion, the most important traits of undergraduate researchers are: a sincere interest in learning, an excellent work ethic, and enthusiasm. A sufficient level of technical skill is required and the skill set depends heavily on the research performed. Inmany cases much of what you will need is learned through the work you will do. Please note that a good GPA is required- your research should augment, not replace, excellent academic work. Ideally, every undergraduate research in my lab will make a contribution significant enough to have his or her name appear as a co-author on a published research paper.


Postodoctoral fellows are hired for specific positions. At the moment there are no positions available.

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