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Shay_21

Leading to depression due to PhD advisor

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Hello Everyone

I am in my 3rd year of PhD and have literally achieved nothing in my academia field from the time I have joined Phd under my supervisor. She doesn't want any good for me, she never even have time to listen to me. There are times where I am not even allowed to touch any instruments because she doesn't allow me too. She has also taken away my peace of mind by interfering in my personal life. 

She has almost purposely delayed my work for more than a year as she post-pone the installation of the new instrument in which my thesis work was assigned. Also she is always reluctant to sign in any documents related to my benefit.

During the first two years she gave me false hope and showed all good behaviour. I was having blind faith on her, it was only in my 3rd year I came to know from other reliable sources that she is delaying the installation of the instrument. When I asked her the reason for the delay, she got annoyed and there was no valid explanation. She further started torturing me with all comments and remarks which I don't know how to react to. She calls be by names and also insults me in front of all the staffs. 

I have completed my 3rd year this month and I realised that I have achieved nothing academically. I am in a dilemma that should I leave the course or should I continue further under her. The only advantage is I will be regularly paid fellowship till the completion of my 5th year. Also she is about to get retired after 3 years. 



 

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By "leave the course", did you mean quitting the PhD altogether? Have you considered switching labs/advisers at all, or even programs within your department? Is there any collaborating PI/anyone on your committee who may be willing to take you in (without affecting the fellowship)? I don't know how your program handles this, but I've heard of a few people (across different schools) who changed labs in their third year while staying in the same program. In fact, it might be a good idea to get a co-mentor even if your adviser isn't acting negative, since she's retiring and you don't want to be left stranded if you don't finish your PhD in the next 3 years.

If you are staying though, it seems your relationship/communication with the adviser needs some serious rethink. Perhaps you can try to figure out what specifically could have caused her behavior towards you to change for the worse, besides the dispute over that instrument. Has she shown such a negative attitude towards anyone else? Could you have upset her with something that you thought was unimportant? Or was it something that happened to her? Is she struggling with funding? Is there anyone in the lab who has been here longer/knows her better who may be able to help you out?

My other thought is, she must have taken you on as a student for a reason (she liked you during interviews, she generally likes mentoring, she wanted cheap labor, whatever it was). So if the relationship itself doesn't seem remediable, I'd still try to find out how you can be valuable to her/to the lab, so that she will have to respect and work with your regardless of her personal opinion (which, of course, will be hard as she's not providing you with the means, but maybe possible?)

On the other side, if you leave the program (presumably with a master's), do you have any plans?

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Posted (edited)

Hi Shay,

Oh no, that does not sound like a fun situation. I really hope you're able to find your way into a better working environment.

 

On 3/26/2019 at 2:55 AM, Shay_21 said:

She has almost purposely delayed my work for more than a year as she post-pone the installation of the new instrument in which my thesis work was assigned. Also she is always reluctant to sign in any documents related to my benefit.

 
2

This is not so uncommon, even though it's awful. PIs generally don't have much motivation to get students out quickly.

 

On 3/26/2019 at 2:55 AM, Shay_21 said:

 She calls be by names and also insults me in front of all the staffs. 

1

This is a workplace abuse of power and is (I hope) much less common. This is a problem that I highly recommend you go speak to an administrator about. I believe normal workplace harassment laws apply to Ph.D. students, and insults/harassment are unacceptable, if not illegal.

 

On 3/26/2019 at 2:55 AM, Shay_21 said:

I am in a dilemma that should I leave the course or should I continue further under her. 

 
 

Does she have any collaborators that you could continue to work with? Have you talked to your committee? I don't feel absolutely comfortable giving advice about this, as I think the support structure in your Ph.D. program is likely more knowledgeable and well-equipped to help you with these problems. But, from the information you've given me, it would seem appropriate for you to find a different advisor. 

 

Best of luck, and hang in there!

Edited by VirtualCell

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