Student inquiries regarding supervision, support, etc.

Q1: Will you be my Bc or Mgr thesis supervisor or PhD supervisor?
My objective is to take on the very best students, and to do excellent work with them; there are few things that make academic life more rewarding. While my first priority is to my existing graduate students, and there are only a fixed number of hours in every day, I would like to believe that I always have room to take on additional exceptional students. However, there are many issues to consider, as discussed under three cases below, each dedicated to a particular level of study at the Faculty of Informatics.

Case 1: You are gearing towards Bc degree.
Once your topic is assigned, I expect monthly (end of a calendar month) reporting by e-mail with a brief description of your progress and work undertaken, to which in 2-4 months from the start of your work a file would be attached with your notes, observations, analyses, etc. - things that will tell me more about the progress achieved, and that you will also find extremely beneficial when writing up your thesis. My feedback will come in about a week, either by e-mail or face-to-face discussion. I don't have any problem with an occasional (once per term) report such as "I focused on my exams and didn't have time to work on the thesis", but in general no or poor reporting throughout the term implies lack of focus and will most likely result in problems with the credit award for that given term.

Case 2: You are interested in Mgr degree (or are already in our program).
Same as above applies, only you have 1-2 terms to distinguish yourself through your coursework and that you have passed two courses other than just introductory PV080 in the security and crypto areas. Another option might be for people who have excellent industrial experience in security, in the past have been a good student (e.g. overall A), and have strong recommendations from people whom I know or trust. In any case, it is expected (though not absolutely necessary) that you will graduate in the "IT security" Master's study area at our Faculty. Case 3: You are interested in pursuing a PhD.
Similar requirements as in Case 2 above apply. Since a faculty member must agree to be your supervisor before you will be admitted to our PhD program, and to help me make such a long-term commitment (e.g. 3 to 5 years), please provide the following information:
  1. (background) Indicate your grade average; where your degrees are from; who you have worked with; what your publication record is; and what your background is in information security (if none, why you think you will succeed nonetheless). I generally expect that before entering a Ph.D. program under my supervision, a student will already have significant practical or academic background in security. How else will you know that you really want to spend 3-5 years of your life studying this area?
  2. (determination of common research interests) Select one of my recent papers or Mgr/PhD theses that I supervised (which you find interesting) and tell me why, along with any insightful comments, or suggestions for extending the research.
  3. (funding) Of the many possible arrangements, tell me your plans. Note that our institution can provide Czech/EU students only with a very basic scholarship and some additional funding through other project(s) is more-ore-less a necessity.
It is impossible for me to have any confidence that there will be a good working relationship without having met you in person, heard you present (e.g. at a conference), or seen some of your work (e.g. in a course, a report or research paper). I typically take on a student only after gaining a high degree of confidence that they will succeed, e.g. requiring that they distinguish themselves through coursework (ideally taking a course with me as a Master's student), or someone I trust recommends them highly. Reference letters from people whose names I do not recognize and/or whom I do not know personally are of limited value.

Q2: Can you write me a letter of reference? (I am/was your student)
I expect that you ask for this since I am familiar with your work, i.e. I was your thesis supervisor or you did at least three courses with me and excelled in these. I will do my best to accommodate your request, and I can typically do this within 1-2 weeks of receiving the information listed below. If you require more than one letter, I will write a generic "To Whom It May Concern" letter. Please provide me with:
  1. a good description of the position or scholarship you are seeking;
  2. the recipient's contact details as you would like them to appear on the letter header;
  3. a hard copy of any instructions or forms to be filled out (highlight any criteria which those receiving the letter expect it to address); and
  4. your CV or resume including all degrees, publications and experience (highlight your experience in computer security and applied cryptography).

Q3: Can I be your postdoctoral visitor in the area of security?
I would be delighted. I assume that we have previously met at a conference or elsewhere (or that I know your current supervisor sufficiently well to trust their recommendation), that your research is in an area in which I am active, and that you will either be bringing with you a good amount of funding, or will be interested in participating in my project research to help fund your stay. Tell me what types of research you do, how it complements my own or that of BUSLab. If we have never met and I don't know anyone that you have been working with, then the best I can likely do is to wish you luck (for starters, I will usually need a strong recommendation from someone whom I know).

This text is based on that of my own graduate supervisor Paul C. Van Oorschot, and was last updated June 28, 2006.