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My adviser left for industry


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Over a year ago I was working on my PhD, where I completed all of my coursework and most of my comps. I had a rather hands-off adviser, and being that I was from a different field of study (cell bio and urban design to behavioral neuroscience), I found it difficult to learn. Essentially, I also felt that I was being pushed by my committee and adviser to do research outside of my interests for the sake of grant money (I already had established funding for 6 yrs, so it should not have mattered). Regardless, I submitted two versions of my dissertation purposal, which fell under the topic that my adviser wanted. Neither draft was read or edited, which stalled my progress and made it impossible to defend my purposal. I was beginning to endure a lot stress from both school and them some, so my already present depression and anxiety got worse. It sounds like a weak excuse, but I decided to take medical leave of absence due an incident of "active" depression (I will not say more). Literally, less than a week after I submitted my paper work, my adviser informs me that she is leaving for a new research position where she cannot take staff or students.

The problem that I have with this is that she must have known for a number of months that she was looking for a new position out-of-state, yet I worked for months on devising a research plan and collecting preliminary data according to everyone's wishes. Then, the data was used in a publication. I was given second author (even though I did the 3rd most amount of work. Maybe, she felt sorry), but I felt a little used for my advisers' progress. It looks good on my resume to have a publication, but so what? I was thrown under the bus, and I do not know why I was not told earler and allowed to chose another adviser from the beginning.

Prior, I was already asked to change my research plan 3-4 times. Then, I was being asked to switch advisers and completely start over with a completely different research direction (when her other student joined a lab where they could more or less continue in the same direction). I would have been at the ABD/MS level had my purposal been read before she left, making it much easier to either transfer or explain to future employers. I saw it as an unfair decision to make, and one that would prevent timely progress in the program. I have had a hard time trusting anyone in the program, and felt already berated and bullied by other professors to this point. Ultimately, I felt that I did not have good experiences with the program, professors and politics, so I decided to step away from the program. I also did not get to know the politics of graduate school. I went to grad school to gain more experience in what I was passionate about. I had no idea grad students were only regarded as cheap labor.

My question is: I want to somehow confront my adviser, committee (who has agreed to give me a positive job reference) and administration that I felt that I was wronged, my progress was passive-aggressively stalled, and that I feel that I should have the chance to at least inquire about a MS degree. Is ther a proper decorum for confronting administration, or is it pretty much a moot point? I know I could possibly come off as a troublemaker, but one of the things I hate about corporate or academic culture is the hush-hush environment.

Has anyone been in a similar boat where their adviser left for industry? Is this scenario a common occurance?

Edited by tisha15
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