Michael Ekstrand

Contact Michael

If you want to contact me, the best way is by e-mail. I also respond on Twitter, but technical or professional conversations there tend to quickly outgrow 140 characters (and I prefer e-mail to TwitterDMs).

University Contact

For professional and academic correspondence, please contact me at Boise State University:

Boise State University
Department of Computer Science
1910 University Drive
Boise, ID 83725-2055
CCP Room 255
Work: +1 (208) 426-5761
Skype: mdekstrand
Alternate e-mail: ekstrand@acm.org

If you are a student in Introduction to Recommender Systems on Coursera looking for course support, please ask questions in the Coursera discussion boards.

If you want to write to me about personal things (non-academic, related to my personal programming projects, etc.), use my personal address. Please do not write to my personal address about classes, my research papers, or LensKit.

On most services, I am mdekstrand or occasionally elehack.

If you are a student looking for work, please see my student openings.

Office Hours

My office hours for Fall 2016 are the following:

  • Mondays 4:30–5:30 p.m.
  • Tuesdays 10:30–11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesdays 2:00–3:00 p.m.

All office hours are in CCP 255 (at 777 Main St.).

E-mailing Me

In general, I welcome e-mails from anyone who would like to discuss topics related to my research interests, teaching work, and general professional work. Like most professors, however, I get a lot of e-mail and cannot reply to all of it.

If you are a prospective student (or researcher) thinking of sending a cold e-mail about working in my group, please keep in mind the following (most of which is good advice for cold-calling any faculty member):

  • If you are a current Boise State student, have recently been admitted, or have submitted an application, please say so.

  • Use a clear, useful subject line such as ‘Prospective Boise State M.S. Student’ or ‘Interested in Boise State Ph.D with PIReT’. If you have a more specific inquiry or interest, mention it in 2-3 words, e.g. ‘Prospective student interested in decision making and recommender systems’.

  • Personalize your e-mail, and not just the greeting. I would like to know why you are contacting me in particular. Did you hear Boise State has a good program, and my research looked interesting when you looked through our faculty directory? If so, please say so and be specific about something you find interesting. Did you read one of my papers or blog posts, see my tweets, hear a talk, take my MOOC, or use my software? Did someone refer you to me? Any of these are fine answers!

    I’d just like to know the connection you see between your interests and mine. An e-mail that could be sent, unedited, to any faculty member is not good form and is unlikely to get a response from the vast majority of faculty.

  • Graduate program admissions are handled by the department’s graduate committee. If you are interested in working with our group in particular, please do reach out (especially if you are applying for the Ph.D program), but you can also just apply and mention myself or Dr. Pera in your Statement of Purpose. E-mailing one of us is not a substitute for applying, but is rather a supplement to your statement of purpose to indicate your interest in our particular work.

    I prefer to see a student’s complete application, including reference letters, before I say much about their qualification for our programs or research group.

  • I do not have academic internships available, particularly funded ones. If at some point we do, it would most likely take the form of a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, and would be advertised on the Boise State CS or PIReT web sites.

  • I do not have postdoc positions available unless I have announced them on my research page or the PIReT site. The exception to this is that I am sometimes interested in helping with proposals to fund a post-doc to work with our group, but am much more likely to do this with someone I already know, for example through a onference.

  • I occasionally host visiting researchers who have funding from their home institutions and whose work is highly complementary to my own. Inquiries about such opportunities should be specific about how the visit would be mutually beneficial.

  • Please make sure there is some connection between what you are wanting to do and my work. If you’re asking about doing a materials science or ecology postdoc with my research group, do not expect a reply.

Social Media Connections

I invite everyone to follow me on Twitter. Please don’t expect me to automatically follow back, or if I follow you to keep following forever; I optimize my twitter feed to provide a personally useful blend of information, and there are many interesting people I do not follow. If you are a student in one of my classes, I will not follow you until the class is over.

I also welcome LinkedIn connections. If you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, please say something personalized (even if it is just a brief sentence); if we have met in person or communicated on other forums, mentioning those is good.