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.
If you are
a very good student - e.g. an A-B student that passed at least two
security and privacy courses, and at least one of those under my supervision,
recommendations from someone whom I know or trust,
then please send mail
including subject line ("Bc thesis inquiry from a good student"),
briefly summarizing your tangible accomplishments,
including grade average and list of
courses relevant to security & cryptography, event. where your degrees are from.
Otherwise, I advise that you distinguish yourself through your
coursework in your first
2-4 terms in the program, and acquire a solid background in security, including
at security seminars and talks. After this time, update me on your progress and continuing interest;
we will then have a basis for discussion.
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:
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
Reference letters from people whose names I do not recognize
whom I do not know personally are of limited value.
(background) Indicate your grade average; where your degrees are from;
have worked with; what your publication record is; and what your
background is in
(if none, why you think you will succeed nonetheless).
I generally expect that before entering a Ph.D. program under my
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?
(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,
with any insightful comments, or suggestions for extending the research.
(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.
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:
- a good description of the position or scholarship you are seeking;
- the recipient's contact details as you would like them to
appear on the letter header;
- 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
- 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
elsewhere (or that I know your current supervisor sufficiently well to
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
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.