Thanks for visiting this page! My name is Dr Jim Martin.  My research areas include networks (especially wireless systems) and more broadly systems.  I  run the Networking Lab in the School of Computing at Clemson University.  You can find a detailed account of my research and pedagogy at my Clemson web page.  

In this page,  I have tried to convey to prospective PhD students my expectations and an illustrative work flow that starts with taking your core classes through to your PhD dissertation defense.   Think of getting a PhD as a 5+ year journey that is well described as a complex random process.  As one of my PhD students,  we will experience a sample path through the process.  You will experience very random twists and turns. But, if you are determined, and willing to work very hard,  you will come out of the process with at least two accomplishments:  First,  we will keep in touch and hopefully be friends and colleagues in the years to come.  Second,  you will be one of the most knowledgeable scientists in the very well defined, well focused problem statement that guides your research.

Prospective Networking Students 

To:  new or prospective students entering our PhD or MS program who are interested in computer networking.

Please refer to the latest PhD and MS program requirements as this provides the details  that you must meet to get your degree. 

This page briefly summarizes my approach to working with PHD students.  I begin by sharing my expectations and then I go into more detail as to typical paths for a successful PHD student.

Dissertation research in the systems areas is usually quite challenging as the amount of background material that must be read and understood is extremely large.  By roughly your last year in the PHD process,  you should be more knowledgeable in the very narrow problem you end up addressing.  When you reach this level, completing your dissertation usually goes smoothly.  If you appear to continuously 'stuck' and not able to make progress without significant assistance from me,   and this continues as you approach the later stages described below, I will inform you that you are not making sufficient progress - we would brainstorm to come  up with a plan that would be designed to help.  After another 6 months or so,  if you still are 'stuck' - I reserve the right to tell you that a PHD is not the right path for you.   If you have successfully accomplished the items mentioned below, by the time you defend your dissertation to your committee,  you need to be able to clearly articulate the motivations, the specific problem statement,  your methodology,  and your results and analysis that supports your 'thesis statement'.  As long as you have good publications and appear to know what you are talking about when we have committee reviews, that is usually sufficient for the committee members.  My expectations are a bit higher:  The nature of systems research unfortunately leads to quite a bit of very poor research that ends up being published.   By the time you defend your work to the committee,  it should be crystal clear that you are one of the leading researchers in the world on your topic.  In the past, I've had to send a PHD candidate's work to colleagues (outside of Clemson) to get their opinion of your work.  By the time you are ready to defend, if you have followed my guidance, there is a 95% chance the committee will sign the forms saying PASSED.   If you have not followed my guidance, I most likely would have told you much earlier that you should no longer pursue a PhD.  If you did not follow my guidance and by some chance you do make it to your defense,  you likely will not pass.  Or, more likely,  you will have to do additional work to address the committee's comments and try to defend once more.  That might cost you a couple of months but no more than 6 months.   If more than 6 months is needed,  I would likely tell you that you need to move on (without the degree).  


Any graduate student working in my Networking Lab must have a background in systems modeling and analysis  AND have a deep understanding of operating systems, specifically Linux.   Students in my lab are trained to follow two paths concurrently: 

Knowing in advance what I am looking for will help guide your graduate course selection.



  Page last updated: 1/24/2021