If you are a PhD applicant or a student already at Penn State and want to work with me, below are a few paragraphs that I highly recommend that you read before sending me an email:
I always look forward to working with students with similar interests and motivations. However, this comes with several conditions. First and foremost, a mentor-mentee relationship entails mutual understanding, effective and responsive communication, and substantial commitment in terms of time and attention. Therefore, to guarantee enough attention for my current students, I have limited capacity in terms of the number of students I can work with simultaneously (3-5 at this moment).
Since most of the time initial contact still starts with an email, so I want to suggest what you can include in your email to help me understand how I can respond. First, it helps immensely if you could introduce yourself and include your resume, which helps me understand how likely your background matches mine. Second, if you are interested in working with me, it helps if you can articulate why. This means the very first thing you need to do is to read some of my recent work. This perhaps needs less than an hour, depending on your reading habit, but I promise you, it will help both of us tremendously. Once you have decided that you are indeed interested in working with me, then the next action is to think exactly how the work that I do aligns with yours. Maybe you are interested in the research area. Maybe you want to apply your skillset. Maybe you want to propose your own research topic... There are many possibilities that I cannot enumerate. If your email contains these types of content and possibly more, this shows to me that you are very serious about what you are seeking and I will get back to you usually in one day or two.