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Hope.for.the.best

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Hope.for.the.best last won the day on July 22 2018

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  1. Hope.for.the.best

    Need help!!

    I am not a relationship expert, nor I am in a relationship currently, so I don't feel qualified to give you specific advice on the subject. However, as someone who has gone through the PhD journey, I reckon family support is very important. A tensed environment at home does take a toll on your studies, and it sounds like your conflict with your wife has got into the way of your studies. Have you ever spoken to your wife your feelings and tried to work things out with her? I don't mean those conversations when you are in a heated argument, but an open and honest one when both of you are calm and willing to listen to each other and communicate. It is not a bad idea to go for relationship counselling. Even if you can't afford it, going to your school counsellor can be helpful (and it should be free for students). You should also address your snoring, not just for your wife, but for your health. Snoring is often due to sleep apnea. This is a condition in which you don't breathe properly while sleeping and your sleep quality suffers as a result. When you don't rest well, you get irritable and this exacerbates your issues at school and home. Not having quality sleep is bad for your health in the long run. I would suggest that you go to your doctor to get it checked out. It can be treated. All the best to you.
  2. Hope.for.the.best

    Conference Intro Bio: Mention Future Plans?

    The point of a biography is to get others to know more about your current research background and area. It would be more like "I completed an undergraduate degree in xxx and have an interest in xxx. I am currently working on [your research project] to [your aims]." It is rare to include future plans in a biography, at least I have not seen that. You can mention your future plans when you get to chat with other participants of the conference, e.g. during tea time. However, given that you don't want your current employer to find out that you will quit to attend grad school this fall, it is probably wise to not say anything. You never know. It's possible that someone at the conference knows your employer. If asked, you could give vague answers like "I like research and would like to attend grad school some time in future."
  3. Hope.for.the.best

    Bad relationship with advisor

    I am sorry to hear what you are going through. I had a similar experience back in my PhD and I can totally relate. You can figure out from my previous posts. How far along you are in your PhD? If you have started not long ago (less than a year), then I would suggest that you press hard to switch advisors. Since your advisors show no willingness to improve (especially the yelling part), your next step would be bringing that up to the school, as others have pointed out. I know it is not good to burn a bridge, but in situation like this, it may he unavoidable. It is very problematic to have someone who do not know your research area to advise you, not to mention that they ignore you and blame you when things are not working. It is totally right for PhD students to ask for feedback. In fact, advisors are supposed to provide feedback and assistance to students so they can move along in their projects. Ideally, advisors meet with their students regularly to keep track on progress. If things are not working, they should work with students to troubleshoot and figure out the way to proceed. Even if you are close to submitting your dissertation, you should still approach the school, as your advisors are getting into the way of your completion. Speaking from my experience, I would not be surprised that they will try not to let you defend or confer, so it is important for the school to know what's going on so they can step in if necessary.
  4. Hope.for.the.best

    Introducing yourself to faculty

    It really depends on your school. But then since you have been accepted by your program, I have a feeling that it would be more like a casual chat than an interview with faculty members. It would not hurt to prepare for responses for your research interests and project though, as these are often the conversation topics when getting to know each other in an academic setting. Try to take it easy as if you are meeting new friends. Good luck!
  5. That's basically what you need to do - introduce yourself, emphasise your interests and experience, and attach a CV. It's only 2 days, so you should wait a bit longer. I would say a week or two is a good time to follow up. When you do follow up, don't phrase your email in a pushing way. Phrase it in a way like "Thank you for your time reviewing my application. Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information." Good luck!
  6. (1) It really depends how long it has passed since you sent the email. If it is just one week, I would suggest that you wait. If it has been like one month and you are sure he has not been away or anything, then it is fine to follow up, but not in a pushing way. Perhaps you can look up one of his recent papers and indicate specifically how his research is of interest to you and align with your work. It is easy for a busy professor to miss out simple emails like "I am interested in your work. Could we meet and discuss?" If you provide some context, then it is more likely to get his attention. (2) That would not be the best approach, unless you happen to go to his department, e.g. attending a seminar, and bump into him. (3) In my opinion, that is actually the best approach if he is giving a talk or workshop shortly. You definitely would not interrupt him while he is giving a talk, but there must be coffee time (or alike) after these events for audience to ask questions and chat about research. Just like (1), tell him exactly what his research interests you. You will get to interact with him in a more natural way. (4) As you said he is of importance to you, I would suggest that you get more proactive in reaching him, rather than waiting out. He may have agreed to be in someone else's committee and cannot be yours if you wait too long.
  7. Hope.for.the.best

    Need advice for new PhD student

    It is common to struggle with learning new techniques at the beginning of your PhD. In fact, I struggled with mastering new techniques too when I first started my postdoc, so learning something new is inevitable for any new projects. I know you have tried explaining to your professor your problem. Did you do it when he was kind of blaming you, e.g. saying that you are not motivated and leave early? It would not be the best timing to get your difficulties across in the heat of the moment, as he was already frustrated with you (probably a bit emotional too). It would be best if you could schedule a meeting with him to discuss your struggles, including the lack of knowledge to master new techniques in a timely manner, difficulties with balancing the demand from coursework, and perhaps, problems with settling down in a new country. Be sure to work out with him how both of you can better align in terms of expectation, e.g. you want more help vs he wants you to be on top of things quickly. It is also a good idea for you to approach the academic advisor (or any equivalents) of your program, as they have seen problems like yours and should be able to offer some practical advice. I would suggest that you try sorting out your issues before considering a change of project. You can still face the same problems (e.g. settling down in a new country) even after you change your project.
  8. Hope.for.the.best

    Did anyone tried to discourage you from pursuing a PhD?

    That's basically what you need to tell yourself whenever someone discourages you. I can see you have considered very carefully that you want to do a PhD. You have also found a great supervisor. By all means, follow your heart and go ahead! As you identified, that PhD student was likely just letting out her frustration of not seeing a future in academia. I had a similar version of story. I have been warned by supervisors, fellow colleagues etc. that if I don't exactly know what I want to do after PhD and plan ahead, then I am screwed for sure, because it is difficult to find a good lab even if I am after a postdoc. I did worry about my future, as I have seen PhD students in my department struggling to find a job after graduation, even if they decided to leave academia. In the end, I decided to just finish off my dissertation and see. After all, there is no point worrying about life after PhD if I don't get my PhD in the first place! I still attended career seminars etc., but my focus was to get my PhD done. Then, a few weeks before I submitted, I learnt that one of my supervisors got funding for a cutting-edge project that I am interested in. I approached him and that's how I got my current postdoc position. Obviously, I could not plan in advance that my supervisor would get funding. I am still not 100% sure whether I will stay in academia, but I reckon this job will equip me with skills that are transferable outside academia. Sometimes, you need to take one step at a time and see where you should go next. You can't always plan everything ahead.
  9. Hope.for.the.best

    Good publications but BAD defense/thesis

    You are not alone! I finished my PhD not long ago and I was in a similar situation, especially the toxic advisor bit. If you read my other posts, then you would have known that I got a lot of anxiety from two demanding advisors, which I named as *Andy and *Cecilia. They didn't go to that extreme to get me worked for 16 hours every day, but they got me to do so many experiments (some even irrelevant to my project) that I had to spend my whole Christmas holiday to write the literature review of my thesis! They even threatened to not let me submit my thesis unless I finished a big experiment, which turned out to be technically impossible to do. My defense went very well though and I passed with minor corrections, but they were reluctant to approve my corrections and let me confer. I was fortunate enough to have another advisor (now my boss), who has been extremely supportive and navigated me through this situation. Like you, my current boss is a super star pi in the field who has a ton of money and likes me. Anyway, back to your questions, I would say your PhD is excellent, because you have got high impact papers published from your work. An impact factor of 22 is very high in science. The fact that you are offered multiple postdoctoral positions demonstrates that you have a strong research profile. Publication record is what matters in any academic jobs. As said above, the most important thing is to have your PhD approved (which you have). Whether you barely passed or passed with flying colours does not matter. If I were you, I would be happy that I can finally say goodbye to such a toxic advisor, and embrace the opportunity to work with a renowned researcher in your field. It did take me a while to let go of the mishap in PhD. Now I am enjoying my life as a postdoc with a great boss. I am pretty sure you will too!
  10. Hope.for.the.best

    How different is grad school from undergrad?

    The short answer is very different. In undergrad, you were told what you needed to know for a topic. More often than not, the topic is well known and established, e.g. t tests and ANOVA. In grad school, however, you are expected to figure out something that has never been looked into. That means a lot of reading to understand the background and gaps in literature, a lot of thinking to formulate and investigate some hypotheses and aims, and a lot of writing and presentations to put your findings together. Your advisors will guide you, but don't expect them to tell you everything like undergrad. They will expect you to have the initiatives to look things up. What you are experiencing is kind of like grad school, but be warned that grad school is more intensive. Having said that, your habits of starting work early (instead of last min) and striving a good work life balance are helpful for grad school. It is very important to pace yourself in grad school like running a marathon. You don't want to work too hard to burn yourself out, but not too laid back so you can keep yourself on track. Having gone through the PhD journey myself, I would say setting accomplishable goals every week has been very helpful.
  11. Hope.for.the.best

    Don't like Cohort + Anxiety

    I am sorry to hear the hard time that you are going through. Just like you don't find everyone likable, there are people who just don't like you, no matter how well you have done. It is not necessarily your fault. Please give yourself a pat on the back for finishing the presentation, given your anxiety of public speaking. I am fine with public speaking, but I am anxious with other things, so I can relate to the apprehension you went through. Take comments that are constructive, e.g. replace a wordy PowerPoint slide with a diagram, but don't take those harsh and untrue comments personally (e.g. you put in less effort than your partner). I know it is easier said than done, especially when those people are toxic. One of my PhD advisors is the type who accuses students of not putting in any effort whenever she thinks their work is not to her expectation. So I can totally understand how frustrated and angry it is when others neglect your effort. But then, grad school is full of criticism, so you really need to find a way to not get that affected. For me, I had secretly liaised with my other PhD advisor to do a postdoc in his lab (He is heavenly to work with), so this hope at the other end got me through the last few months of my PhD. Your professor is insensitive by saying that "people with mental illnesses need to have their shit together to become therapists". In my opinion, having experienced a mental illness can be helpful for a career of counselling, because you can relate to the struggles of your clients more easily. Having said that, I think her comment was not intentional and targeted at you though, because she should not know that you suffer from anxiety. I am not sure whether you see a counsellor for your anxiety. If so, it is not a bad idea to book an appointment to talk these through. If not, maybe you could go to your school's counselling centre. Regarding dropping off or not, your graduate advisor would be the best person to talk to, as he/she has seen cases like these before. Hope this is of help. Feel free to post back or PM me.
  12. Hope.for.the.best

    Is this The Right Thing?

    It is difficult to give you a concrete yes or no here, as ultimately it is you who should decide how your career path should go. Having said that, probably you could make a list of pros and cons for staying in and quitting the program. This may help you put things into perspectives, rather than thinking of staying in one day but quitting the other day. It is not a bad idea to talk to your graduate advisor, as they have seen students who are considering quitting. They may have suggestions on how you should proceed, or at least point you to some helpful resources.
  13. It is common to have problems settling in for the very first semester. No need to feel embarrassed. You are definitely not the only one, even if you feel this way. You will not be the first student who has ever gone to the graduate advisor for matter like this. He has seen that enough to not think you less of it. So basically, tell him what you wrote here, that you are struggling to catch up with your physics course. Tell him that you have tried meeting with the professor to clarify but you lack the background to understand the lectures. He should be able to point you in the right direction, e.g. drop the course, do a course that equips you with the necessary background. Please be reassured that you are not lazy/unmotivated by taking this step to consult your graduate advisor. In fact, it is the opposite. You are proactively trying to make satisfactory progress towards your PhD. It is also not a bad idea to clarify how satisfactory progress is monitored in your program, so you are aware what is expected.
  14. Hope.for.the.best

    Inviting toxic advisors to my graduation

    Thank you for both your replies. @enstor2639 You are right that I don't need reference letters from them, as *Ben and other academics in his department can do one if the need arises. I actually bumped into *Andy the other day. He greeted me very nicely and asked about my graduation date. He indicated that he would love to come. I only said I would get back to him later. Yes, he may not keep his promise like offering paid employment, but not inviting him and *Cecilia will just give them another reason to send rude emails. They can justify that I don't regard them as my advisors. To be honest, it is true. I don't care what they think, but certainly this does not look good to *Ben, even though he is aware of their nasty behaviors. So, it seems like I'd better invite them, and pray that they won't come. @Sigaba I have definitely taken the feedback I received to heart. I certainly won't care whether I get invited by someone who cares little about me. The trouble here is the manuscript in question has not been published, so in some ways, I still need to deal with *Andy and *Cecilia. I can't completely burn the bridge just yet. *Ben has already defused the situation by asking me to not meet them in person (he meets them instead), as they are going to let out all their anger/disappointment to me instead of discussing the manuscript. In their minds, I am all wrong by starting a postdoc with *Ben, but not volunteering for them until I finish what they want me to do (not just that one experiment for that manuscript, but many more). They cannot show their anger towards *Ben, as this just makes them look very bad, so they turn to me instead. They naively think that they would look better by assigning blame to their student. My question is more like how I deal with them properly if they come to my graduation, rather than inviting them or not. Anyway, I will try my best to fake a smile if they choose to come, but things will certainly get awkward.
  15. Hope.for.the.best

    Inviting toxic advisors to my graduation

    I know this is probably a ridiculous post, but it is something that has been bothering me. Long story short, my PhD advisors (all pseudonyms), *Andy and *Cecilia got mad at me for not finishing an experiment as a volunteer, but accepted a full-time job from my other advisor, *Ben, in a different department. They sent rude emails to me, cc to *Ben. *Ben was understanding of the situation and talked to them in person. After negotiation, they agreed that I spent some time at work to complete that experiment, so we could finish a manuscript. Turned out, that experiment is technically impossible to do. I thus thought of an alternative and presented that to *Ben. *Ben was pleased with my proposal and asked me to set up a meeting with *Andy and *Cecilia, so we could sit down and discuss. I emailed them twice, only to get a reply from *Cecilia that I should discuss with *Andy, so I followed up with *Andy with another email. However, I received no reply at all. *Ben then asked me to just finish off the manuscript and sent to them. They read the draft and made edits to polish it. Both *Ben and I thought they were happy with the manuscript as it was. Out of nowhere, however, they sent rude emails to me again (cc to *Ben), saying that they wanted that experiment to be done but I ignored them, and I have disregarded their good heart to help me succeed. *Ben was again supportive and met them in person. They finally realized that the experiment was indeed un-doable, and reluctantly agreed that we should just finish the manuscript and send. Since then, they were professional in emails as before. Finally, they are willing to let go of their roles as advisors and acknowledge that *Ben is now my boss. I am still taken aback by the whole dilemma. I can see why they were upset with me working for *Ben (as discussed in my previous thread https://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/103639-have-i-been-rudeimpolite-to-my-advisors/?tab=comments#comment-1058591759). However, I still cannot understand why they got mad at me for an un-doable experiment, especially when I have provided reasons and an alternative. I even requested for a meeting to go through my proposal. It was them who ignored me and then came back to accuse me of ignoring them. How irrational are they! Now, I am about to have my PhD graduation. It is certainly a courtesy to invite all advisors. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for *Andy and *Cecilia in helping me to finish PhD, but after all these incidents, I simply don't want to see them again! To be honest, I only want *Ben to be there. I know it does not look good if I only invite *Ben, so do you guys have any good suggestions on how I should cope with *Andy and *Cecilia at my graduation? Yes, a smile and thank you will probably get me through, but I simply can't fake a smile. Even thinking of them now makes my jaw so tensed up that I cannot smile. It is just bad that I dread my graduation when I should look forward to it Thanks.
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