Guide to Joining My Research Group

Table of Contents

  • Read This Part First
  • The Guide
    • Basics
      • What is the difference between a research advisor and an academic advisor?
      • What are your research interests?
      • What does it mean to be part of your research group?
      • What is the typical timeline to complete a research project or thesis?
      • How much time do I need to spend daily on my research project?
    • Applying
      • How do I apply to work with you?
      • I'm an undergraduate. Can I join your research group?
      • When should I reach out to you about joining your research group?
    • Advisor-Advisee Fit
      • What do you look for in a prospective MS student?
      • What is your advising style?
      • Can you advise me on a project that I choose on my own?

Read This Part First

This guide addresses some common questions about joining my research group. The content of this page pertains specifically to my research group and may not align with department or faculty norms. You do not need to read the entire document, but it could be beneficial if you do. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any additional questions.

If you are interested in joining my research group and would like to contact me about it, please send me an email with a copy of your unofficial transcripts and a scientific writing sample (e.g., a literature review/analysis/report or similar assignment from an upper-level or graduate course), with the subject line "Prospective [MS/SAGE/Undergraduate] Student" (choose one option). In the body of the email, please include the following information:

  1. Your full name, the semester/year in which you wish to start (e.g., "fall 2025"), and the program/major/concentration you will be in during that semester.
  2. Explain specifically what aspects of my work interest you and why you want to work with me. It may be helpful to review my research interests before writing this.
  3. Specify the research topic(s) or project(s) you would like to work on. Look at my work and interests and consider what improvements or extensions may be feasible and interesting.

NOTE: If you do not meet the criteria outlined above/below or do not provide the required information in a clear and concise manner, it is likely that I will not respond to your email.

The Guide


What is the difference between a research advisor and an academic advisor?

There is often confusion about the term "advisor." In this context, a "research advisor" is someone who supervises the research of another person, also known as the "advisee." The research advisor may also be referred to as a supervisor or mentor. In contrast, an "academic advisor" is someone who helps students navigate coursework and other requirements for graduation. These students are not typically part of the research group.

What are your research interests?

To learn about my research interests, be sure to review my bio and aims on my faculty page in addition to my research and publications pages. Furthermore, review the research-related resources available in the department to get an idea about what type work is feasible. For my research projects, I am particularly interested in physical assessment instruments (e.g., DXA, BodPOD, BIA, Actiheart, indirect calorimetry, and T.O.V.A.) and biomarker analysis instruments.

What does it mean to be part of your research group?

If you join my research group, you will be a member of a team working on various research projects that may be related or independent from one another. It is expected that you will contribute your own expertise, skills, and feedback to the group as appropriate. I will also work to support your success in your research. Regular meetings with me and the group to discuss progress and share ideas will be a part of this process.

What is the typical timeline to complete a research project or thesis?

One's availability affects the types of research that can be completed with my guidance. It is preferable for MS advisees to work with me for at least three semesters on their research project or thesis from beginning to end. If only two semesters are possible, a research project can still be pursued, but it may be more limited in scope. I am unable to work with MS students who cannot commit to at least two semesters to complete their project. If you are an undergraduate student, see below.

How much time do I need to spend daily on my research project?

I do not micromanage your time, but it is suggested that you dedicate at least an average of two hours daily to your research project. This should include all activities related to the project, such as meetings with me and your committee, reviewing relevant literature, developing a plan for your research, collecting and analyzing data, writing and revising your project or thesis, preparing for your defense, and presenting your work.


How do I apply to work with you?

You generally need to be an accepted graduate student or SAGE student at SJSU, with a major in Nutritional Sciences (any concentration) to apply to work with me.

I'm an undergraduate. Can I join your research group?

If you are a current undergraduate student studying nutritional sciences or a related field, or if you are considering enrolling in a Master's or SAGE program in the future, and your research interests align with mine, you can contact me to discuss the possibility of working together on an individual study (NuFS 180) or research project. It is expected that you will commit to working with me for a minimum of one semester, but the project you work on does not have to be finished within that time frame. Many undergraduate projects are "works in progress" as part of a larger research effort.

When should I reach out to you about joining your research group?

If you have thoroughly reviewed the materials on this page and are interested in joining my research group, it is best to reach out to me during the semester before your intended start date. For example, if you wish to begin working with me in the fall, it is best to reach out during the spring semester (the sooner in the semester the better).

Advisor-Advisee Fit

What do you look for in a prospective MS student?

  • Strong writing skills is a major advantage. While I may accept students who are still improving their writing, those who already have strong writing skills will find it easier to produce publications and complete their project or thesis. When reviewing writing samples from graduate applicants, I look for attention to detail at all levels, including overall organization, coherence, and careful word choice and editing. I generally give more weight to writing samples that show the applicant's ability to write effectively on their own, without the help of an editor.
  • Critical thinking skills are difficult to directly assess, but they are important for research. I look for evidence of them in writing samples (again, writing skills are important) and in conversations with potential advisees.
  • Attention to detail is important because it allows me to support students in producing their best work and achieving their goals. When a student is attentive to detail, it makes it easier for me to focus on helping them succeed.
  • Successful completion of coursework in nutrition, metabolism, physiology, and statistics can indicate that a student is well-prepared for independent research projects. In my experience, students who have excelled in these challenging subjects are more likely to be successful in research.
  • Prior research experience is valuable and can be an asset, but is is not a requirement. Meaningful participation in research projects outside of the classroom, such as collecting and analyzing data with a professor or working on a research team, is particularly helpful.
  • Personal attributes: Personal qualities that are important for success in graduate school include grit, since research and scientific writing is inherently challenging. It is also important for students to be able to work independently and as part of a team, as both types of work will be required. Good time management skills and the ability to handle multiple projects at once are also important for success.

What is your advising style?

Advisors can generally be described as either more hands-on or more hands-off in their approach. My approach tends to be more hands-on, although I expect my advisees to still be self-motivated and able to teach themselves skills that their coursework does not cover. I encourage my advisees to structure their own daily activities with a focus on both short-term and long-term goals. I provide research problems to work on, resources to facilitate their work, feedback on their progress, guidance on manuscript preparation and publishing, and mentorship as they work towards their career goals.

I expect that all of my advisees schedule regular meetings with me, typically every week or every two weeks, and to prepare an agenda in advance. In certain circumstances, more frequent meetings may be required, such as when facing deadlines for submissions. During these meetings, I encourage my advisees to take thorough notes and am willing to pause the conversation to allow them to catch up. The goal of these meetings is to address any significant questions and identify practical and meaningful steps that will move their research forward.

It is my expectation that all of my advisees will strive to produce research that can be presented and published in academic settings. Master's students should aim to present at one or more professional conferences and submit a first-author paper for publication. Undergraduates should aim to be a co-author on at least one presentation at a professional conference.

Regarding travel, advisees should let me know if their absence will disrupt their work or if they will be gone for a week or longer during the semester, as unexpected events can occur in research and we may need to meet. Although work is not required during the breaks (winter or summer), I do expect that advisees document and communicate a research plan for this time and to occasionally touch bases with me to maintain momentum in their work. Advisees should promptly reschedule or cancel any scheduled meetings they plan to miss due to unforeseen or changing circumstances.

Effective communication is also very important to me. I find that a well-communicated good idea is often more valuable than a brilliant idea that is poorly expressed and difficult to understand. I expect my students to continuously improve their writing and presentation skills, using feedback from me and from other sources. These skills are never fully perfected, and I am always working to improve my own abilities as well.

Can you advise me on a project that I choose on my own?

Most projects will be based on my existing research areas and questions. However, it is possible that I may be able to accommodate a specific research topic, but it depends on several factors, including the feasibility (i.e., funding or access to a population/dataset), my current research priorities, and my ability to provide adequate supervision for the topic. In some cases, I may be able to allow some flexibility within a general topic, and students who bring their own funding (such as through a graduate fellowship) or access to a population/dataset may have more leeway. However, I expect students that I advise to follow my guidance on the direction of their research.