Information for Prospective Students and Postdoctoral Fellows

Dear prospective student

Thank you for your interest in my research at the University of Toronto. It is an honour that you would consider the possibility of working with me for your graduate studies.

First, I invite you to review the admission information on our department website. Below, I attempt to answer some specific questions you may have for me regarding admission to my research group.

What kind of research do you do?

My research focuses on (a) fundamental aspects of feedback control theory, including nonlinear, optimal, robust, and distributed control, and (b) applications of advanced control and optimization to high-performance engineering systems, with a focus on power and energy systems.

If you believe that my research area might interest you, please look carefully at my web page to see what I do, and feel free to browse through recent presentation slides and papers. In general, I am more likely to be interested in a student who has taken the time to understand what my research involves, especially if they can explain why they would be well-suited to make contributions in my research group.

Are there any openings in your research group?

I am almost always looking for talented and highly motivated graduate students to join my research group. Those with a strong background and demonstrated interest in control, optimization, applied math, or physics are encouraged to apply. Please begin by applying to the ECE department; mention my name in your application, and then contact me by email to let me know you have applied (click here for admission information).

International students: Unfortunately I do not consider international MASc program applicants; please apply to the doctoral program.

Am I likely to be admitted?

In general, I cannot easily answer questions of the form “Will I be admitted if I apply?” Admission depends on many factors which, most often, can only be evaluated after your application has been received. These factors include the personal statement and reference letters in your application, the overall pool of applicants, and the availability of research funding. Nonetheless, as key indicators, successful applicants (i) will hold an undergraduate degree from a top Canadian or international institution, (ii) will have achieved outstanding grades (top 5 to 10 percent of their class) during their studies, (iii) will have conducted independent research projects (possibly, but not necessarily, resulting in publications), and (iv) will have strong reference letters from internationally recognized professors.

Will I be funded if I am admitted?

All thesis-based graduate students are guaranteed funding if admitted. Please be aware however that applicants with scholarships/fellowships are more competitive for admission, and therefore, it is always in your best interest to apply for any fellowships for which you are eligible. For Canadian permanent residents, you should apply to the OGS/QE-II and NSERC CGS programs (see also here for other scholarships and financial support) and I am happy to support your application. For international students, please see the OGS material here and here. The School of Graduate Studies also provides a list of scholarships here.

I have already applied – now what?

I begin reviewing applications in mid to late January. If I am interested in interviewing you for a position in my group, you will be contacted in January or February. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I am not able to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications.


I look forward to reviewing your application, and wish you the best in all your future studies!

Kind Regards,
John W. Simpson-Porco

Postdoctoral Fellows: I occasionally have funding for post-doctoral fellowships for specific projects. Please directly e-mail me your CV along with two to three representative publications. More flexible post-doctoral funding is also available through NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowships, Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, Mitacs Elevate, and Branco-Weiss Fellowships. See also here for a list of funding sources.

Undergraduates: Please directly e-mail me if you are interested in working with me for your capstone project, senior thesis, or for an NSERC USRA project.