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World's flakiest prof


dendy
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My former PI agreed to write me a letter over a month ago. She hasn't responded to any of my reminders or questions since then, which is unsurprising as she is a huge flake. The deadline for the NSF GRFP letters is the 27th and since they are NOT FLEXIBLE AT ALL I'm panicking a bit. Her grad student gave me her cell phone number but he told me she's in Italy right now!! The grad student actually wrote the letter so all the prof has to do is submit it, but apparently this is an insurmountable task. I'm not sure what to do at this point--I'll try calling her on monday but I'm not expecting that to work. My only plan of action is to flood her inbox to the point where she can't avoid me but that runs the risk of pissing her off and I'm not sure how to even phrase an email that doesn't sound demanding and accusatory.

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Is there anyone you could ask as a back-up? At this point, I'd act like I'm not getting the letter from her and just seek out other options. You don't want to be caught without that last letter.

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No, there is no one I could get a letter from in two days, and if I don't get a letter from her the reviewers will probably be suspicious as to why a professor i have done significant work with wouldn't give me one.

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she put off the task of writing the letter to a grad student, and now she's not even going to submit it?? How many levels of wrong is that?

Hell if she didn't write the letter, then it doesn't matter what she thinks of you. I would call her and talk in a kind voice, expressing that this is a big deal to you. All she has to do is attach the letter, and press send.

Edited by child of 2
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It's extremely common in lab sciences for a grad student or postdoc to write a draft because they are the person you actually work with while the PI sits in their office playing solitaire working on grants. Even my non deadbeat PI does this.

Edited by dendy
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It's extremely common in lab sciences for a grad student or postdoc to write a draft because they are the person you actually work with while the PI sits in their office playing solitaire working on grants. Even my non deadbeat PI does this.

Oh OK. Great that you managed to get it done and dusted.

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Hmmm, well she only got around to it because I panicked, so I wouldn't say it was for nothing haha. I think it's a good lesson for other students of chronically flakey profs--they are used to people freaking out at them for always being tardy so don't worry about offending them and just be assertive; it's your future on the line. Also next time you'll know to select a punctual mentor to save yourself from dying of stress.

Edited by dendy
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dendy, I wouldn't be so negative about it. MANY professors put off submitting recommendation letters until close to the deadline and get them done whether or not you panic. It's something I've learned. Another one of my advisor's students recently started to panic about a letter because he went on a trip on a Friday without submitting it. She called him and he said, I'm uploading it via the airport's internet right now. Note that this does not mean that he is "chronically flake", just that he's busy and things may not get done in the order you want them to.

P.S. I sincerely doubt everyone hear can find a "punctual mentor" given that many academics routinely ignore deadlines.

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