14 Best Gifts for Professors or PhD Advisors (in 2023)
6 min read
A search for “PhD Advisor Gifts” on Amazon will give you about 45 mugs and 3 t-shirts. Not a strong start. I’ve been through grad school, worked with many professors, and have a good idea of what they would truly appreciate as a thank-you gift. Here’s my hand-picked list below.
This list is a compilation of my favorites from around the internet. Some are our own Genius Lab Gear inventions and some we’re just jealous we didn’t think of first! Some external links in this page are from affiliates, which means that any purchase of the items after clicking the link will result in a small monetary referral fee paid back to Genius Lab Gear at no cost to you. We appreciate your support which allows us to continue inventing and testing the best tools for scientists on the planet!
1. Academia Word Magnets
Academia is chock full of inside jokes, mannerisms, and cringeworthy habits that professors love to laugh about. These word magnets are designed specifically to let academics rant about their hardships, relish their big wins, and have a good laugh. These are perfect for the office refrigerator or the magnetic whiteboard, where sneaky students can leave passive-aggressive phrases for the advisor to find later. Get them on our site here and bundle them with other field-specific sets based on the professor’s field of study.
2. The Pocket Scientist pocket ruler and equation reference
Your favorite PhD adviser will use this unique gift daily (and hopefully always remember you for it)! They can carry this credit card-sized ruler and scientific reference every day in the classroom or lab and use it for sketches in their office. We even laser-engraved the backside full of basic science equations and physical constants. See the product page for a full list of features we've packed in!
3. Rocketbook Beacons to digitize their white board
How many times has your college professor scribbled an amazing brainstorm on a whiteboard and then lost it forever once the next student comes in to talk?
Rocketbook is well-known for their reusable notebooks which have grids and QR codes built-in to quickly snap photos of and organize hand-written notes digitally. They recently added this GENIUS product to do the same thing with white boards. You put a triangle at each corner, then use their app to snap a photo, and it can flatten the image, enhance the contrast and automatically send it to your favorite note-saving app. Keep those moments of brilliance safe!
4. Funny Coaster Set for Teachers and Professors
Professors and students love to have a good laugh at each others’ expense. Give them the upper hand for once with some funny professor coasters. It’ll protect their desk while they put down their drink between sips, giving them plenty of time to admonish the lab work you didn’t get done this week.
5. Wireless Laser Pointer and PowerPoint Presenter
Laser pointers are one thing you never think about until the moment you don’t have one that works. I personally own this one because it’s got everything you need, from the pen clip to volume buttons and slide control buttons. DinoFire has several tiers with different features, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.
6. Smart Coffee Mug Warmer
For the advisor who always has a cup of coffee in-hand but doesn’t have a microwave in their office, this desktop mug warmer will save them time running back and forth several times a day. The best feature is that it turns on and off automatically when a mug is on top so it doesn’t waste energy!
7. Kensington Ergonomic Vertical Wireless Mouse
Let’s be honest. Most college professors barely make it into the lab now, spending all of their time making presentations and writing grants at their computer. This new vertical mouse design is starting to catch on because it’s more ergonomic for people spending hours upon hours at the computer each day. They’ll thank you for finding such a unique solution that they probably didn’t know existed (and were too frugal to get for themselves). It’s “Treat yo’self” day for your professor. They deserve it.
8. Lab Coat Pocket Protector
A gift of nostalgic charm that is sure to resonate with their professionalism and accomplished academic life! The venerable Pocket Protector became a cultural icon in the 1960's and 1970's, but somewhere along the way the newer generation of STEM researchers forgot about them.
Scientists need these back in their labs to stay organized, stay efficient, protect their lab coats, and finish their experiments without being late to lunch. So we researched and tested every type ever made to methodically solve each problem and come up with this refreshed design.
Available in spruce green, sapphire blue, and faded pink - the top 3 colors voted on by our fans! You can even get it from our Amazon page if that's easier.
9. Novium Hoverpen 2.0
If your PhD advisor loves physics, astronomy, space, or technology then they will definitely appreciate having this on their desk. It’s a high-end refillable magnetic pen that hovers perfectly at an angle using magnets on all sides. The Novium Hoverpen 2.0 even spins in place for a mesmerizing power move when a student comes to office hours.
10. Personal Aeropress or Pour-Over Coffeemaker
If the office coffee is notoriously bad, the professor would definitely enjoy having a private stash and means to make single cups. I own both of these and use them all the time. The Aeropress makes the quickest, easiest single-cup you’ll find. You just need a way to heat up the water and a stash of their small round filters. There’s even a whole ecosystem of organizers for the Aeropress like this little bamboo desktop cabinet. A Chemex Pour-over is good for 2-3 cup batches but takes a little more time and effort.
11. Canvas Reusable Lunch Bag
For the professor who cares about conservation and sustainability, a top-notch reusable lunch bag will be a perfect fit. It’s double-stitched for strength, waterproof, and has no tiny pieces that could break off. Simple, casual, and sustainable. It’s always going to be appreciated.
Anyone who works with "rodent models" knows the struggle. Our Rat Mood Chart canvas print is a funny-but-sad-but-true representation of the what these little heroes go through in the name of science.
14. Professor Gift Bundle
If you can't decide by now, I can still help! Consider this decision made. I put together a Professor/PhD Advisor Gift Bundle just to make it easy for you. The gift set includes the Pocket tool and Word Magnets from above, plus a few fun science stickers. You'll save over 20% by bundling them together, so consider this decision made!
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