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Figuring Out Whether to Leave or Stay


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So, I'm in my 2nd of graduate school in a Statistics program and I still hate it.


I wanted to pursue bioinfomatics/comp bio for graduate school but none of the programs accepted me. I also applied to two graduate programs in biostatistcs because in my naivete I thought they were somewhat similar (never making that mistake again). I got into biostat oriented programs but neither offered any concrete promise of funding so I took the offer that was in my homestate due to lower in-state tutition. Luckily, I got funded my second semester.

Over the summer, I had an amazing opportunity to work in bioinformatics lab and I loved it. I've always loved research but I've always worked on the wetlab side of things, so it was nice to have validation that yes, I do actually like this and I want to do research in it.

Problem: My department, while trying to amp up their interdisciplinary work, is very traditional statistics. My academic advisor interests are solely statistics and nothing else (it was battle convincing her that taking analysis would be beneficial even though it's not a stat class). Her main response when I described to her the research that I did over the summer was "Did you do any statistics?", which was somewhat disheartening. That along with the fact that I honestly can't see myself working with anyone in the department on a thesis on statistics. My department, while trying to amp up their interdisciplinary work, is very traditional. That being said, the head of the department set up me up with a PI at the medical school (our dept does consulting sometimes with them) who is doing work in bioinformatics and has funding. Intially, I was thrilled and after 3 months of the PI being MIA, I finally met him this month.

He is the single most flakiest individual I have ever met. He was an hour late for our meeting and during said meeting he dither about money for like 10 minutes and we didn't discuss a single things about the project. And then he tells me that he has an offer from another university that he's considering taking but he hasn't decided yet.

I can't really get out of this since um, the head of the department thinks this is a done deal and quite frankly I rather not go against the head of my department...

But, I'm honestly not terribly happy here. I don't like the environment. It's a bit too "purist" for me. And this PI is making worried.

The problem is I want my doctorate. But I really don't know how it's going to look with me dropping out with a masters and reapplying.

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It's pretty standard to leave a program for another after the M*, especially if you're switching fields! (I did!) However, it is absolutely imperative that you have sparkling rec letters from profs at your master's school. If you're not comfortable with the chair of the dept, is there a director of grad studies or any other prof with whom you feel comfortable talking about your options?

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