Prof. Mikhail Kats:
Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive, Room 3441, Madison, WI, USA - 53706.
Email: mkats [at] wisc [dot] edu
Phone: +1 608 890 3984
Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive, Room 3553, Madison, WI, USA - 53706.
If you're interested in exploring research opportunities with our group, please first read the FAQ below relevant to you, and then get in touch with Prof. Kats at mkats[at]wisc[dot]edu. You are also welcome to contact current and former group members with questions.
FAQ for prospective group members
For applicants at all levels
Q: I am interested in joining your group as a grad student, postdoc, intern, or undergraduate researcher. Should I email Prof. Kats?
A: Yes, you are welcome to email Prof. Kats to express your interest. Please write a succinct email that includes as much relevant information as possible. The email should include an attached CV, a brief description of your expertise and academic/scientific background, and might also include include pdfs of transcripts (for students), names and contact information of references, and other relevant materials.
It is best if you email from an institutional email address (university or company email), to make sure to avoid spam filters. Please note that Prof. Kats will attempt to respond to all inquiries, but unfortunately the volume of emails sometimes makes that impossible.
Q: I have my own funding. Will that help obtain a position?
A: Prospective group members at all levels (student, postdoc, etc.) are evaluated primarily on merit, which includes former research, academic preparation, professional experience, etc. However, because funding is always finite, a prospective group member who comes with independent funding (scholarships, fellowships, awards, etc.) should absolutely bring it up in communications with Prof. Kats.
For prospective graduate students
Q: When is the application deadline?
A: Please check the department website. As of this writing, the graduate application deadline is Dec 15 every year. However, note that it may be possible to submit a late application, and graduate students may even be admitted out of cycle altogether if there is support from a prospective advisor. If you are interested in submitting an out-of-cycle application (e.g., in the spring or summer) to our group, please send Prof. Kats an email.
Q: I would like to work with your group. To which department should I apply?
A: Prof. Kats's primary department is Electrical and Computer Engineering, but he advises students in Physics and Materials Science and Engineering as well. You are welcome to apply to one or more of these departments. If you apply to Physics or MSE but not ECE, please make sure to contact Prof. Kats by email to ensure that your application is not missed.
Q: How does funding work for graduate students?
A: In ECE, we provide long-term funding guarantees to all students admitted to the PhD program. These guarantees often include multiple funding streams, with the primary funding source being individual funds raised by the advisor (e.g., Prof. Kats) in the form of a research assistantship, but possibly augmented by fellowships and/or teaching assistantships. Please note that students admitted to the MS program are not guaranteed funding, though funding may be offered if available.
Note that other departments have different funding policies. For example, in the Physics department, it is common for students to be on teaching assistantships for their first year. You might consider both the coursework requirements and the funding mechanisms when deciding to which department to apply.
Q: How are admissions decisions made?
A: In ECE, graduate applications are typically first screened and prioritized by the Graduate Admissions and Fellowships (GRAF) committee. Then, Prof. Kats looks at individual applications from applicants who expressed interest in his group in the application. He will schedule interviews, usually over Zoom, with candidates who may be a good fit. Detailed information about what to expect at the interview will be sent out by email. The final admission and funding decisions are made by Prof. Kats based on the application, interview, and any other relevant communication. Note that other departments may have different admissions processes.
Q: I applied by the Dec 15 deadline. When can I expect to hear something?
A: Typically, interviews are expected to be scheduled for February and early-mid March. However, depending on various factors, interviews may even be scheduled as late as April. If you have impending decision deadlines for another university or group, but are more interested in Prof. Kats's group, please send a follow-up email. Please note that almost all US universities abide by the April 15 resolution, which states that students are not under obligation to respond to an offer of financial support prior to April 15.
Q: If I am admitted to the MS-Research program, will I be able to switch to the PhD program at a later time?
A: If your advisor (here, Prof. Kats) is interested in recruiting you as a PhD students and is able provide long-term research funding, then it is straightforward to switch from an MS program to a PhD program. You will not need to submit a new graduate application, and the process can happen quickly.
For prospective postdocs
Q: What is the formal title for postdocs, i.e., scientists who are continuing training after the receipt of their doctorate?
A: At UW-Madison, this position is called a Research Associate
Q: I don't see a formal position posting. Should I still apply?
A: Yes, please apply by sending Prof. Kats an email with your CV, a brief description of your expertise and academic/scientific background, names and contact information of references, and other relevant materials. A position can be created if there's a good fit and funding is available.
Q: What is the visa situation for international applicants?
A: Research associates at UW-Madison typically come on J1 visas. We are typically not able to sponsor H-1B visas for Research Associates.
For undergrads at UW-Madison who want to become involved in research
Q: How do I get involved in research in your group?
A: Please send an email to Prof. Kats expressing your interest. Include a CV or resume (if you have one already made), a pdf of your transcript, and a brief description of your academic preparation. In addition to relevant classwork, we are interested in your various skills and experiences. That can include work experience, programming projects, hands-on projects (machine shop, woodworking, 3D printing, circuit design, etc.).
Q: Can I receive academic credit for research in your group?
A: Yes, most undergrad students doing research enroll in ECE 399 or a similar "independent study" course in their department. Students can enroll for variable credits, and can either receive a letter grade or pass/fail (S/U) grade -- these options can be discussed with Prof. Kats.
Q: I am at my credit limit for classes in a semester, and cannot enroll in ECE 399 or similar independent-study course. Can I still do research with your group?
A: Yes, this is typically not a problem. Please discuss with Prof. Kats.
Q: Do you have paid undergraduate research positions?
A: Yes, this is possible, especially in the summer, but it depends on the availability of funding and several other factors. Please discuss options with Prof. Kats.
Q: Will I be able to author scientific papers while working in your group?
A: Yes, we have previously had undergraduate students become co-authors on scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals.