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Please HELP! Advisor switched jobs and won't be supervising anymore?

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Hi everyone,


I hope I can find a solution to my problem here! The story goes like this: Last year i.e. October 2013, I had an interview for a PhD position with Dr. X  (principal advisor) and Dr. Y (co-advisor). I got rejected and another person was chosen to begin in January 2014. However, Dr. X contacted me in February 2014 asking whether I was still interested in the position as the chosen student has bailed on him and the position was available again. I accepted since I did not have any other opportunities in hand. I applied and got accepted to begin in September 2014. Now Dr. X tells me that meanwhile he had been applying for jobs at other institutes (which he didn't inform me about) and has been accepted elsewhere and will be moving. The problem is, its a clinical position and he won't be advising anyone. So he will discuss with Dr. Y about transferring my share of funding to him so Dr. Y will become my principal advisor but he is not 100% certain that Dr. Y will agree to it.


My problem with Dr. Y is that he seemed to really not like me or any of his students (as apparent from their sad demeanor). During the interview he was looking out the window and rubbing his forehead (in boredom or did he have a headache? No one knows!) Good thing that he did it to everyone who got interviewed that day and it wasn't just me. But he seems like a very disinterested guy who just agreed to co-supervise because the grant application required a co-investigator. His actual work is in no way related to this funded project. My question is: what can I do in this situation? I have a formal offer letter from the university, so can I just ask my advisor to find me another researcher who works in my interest area and transfer funding to them instead of Dr. Y? Also I wasted 6 months of my life concentrating on this PhD application and reviewing literature and it sucks that now I have to find another advisor or start a job search from scratch! I could have found a decent job by now!


Sorry for the long story but any suggestions would be appreciated!


Thanks in advance!

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Does your program have rotations, or do you have to join the laboratory of the PI you've contacted? If you have to do rotations, look at the other PIs. If there are several you like and some of them are taking students, you're probably fine. I ended up joining a lab with a brand new PI who wasn't even on my list of professors I thought I would like to work under.

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Hi biotechie,


Nope, the program doesn't have any rotations. And none of the other PIs in the department are taking on any students (though I am guessing they just might if my advisor refers me to to them). The thing is, do I ask my advisor to do this for me straight out? Because frankly speaking, he kind of owes me that much.

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If you can, I would try to talk to Dr Y. (in person, by himself) about the opportunities available to you in his group before you make a decision. I don't think that you can reliably infer that Dr Y is "disinterested" in you from one interaction, or that since his grad students looked "sad" that they are unhappy with his style of advising (most grad students don't happily skip along the corridors - a lot of them are serious people, but that doesn't really mean anything). Professors often find the process of interviewing students all day a chore, but are much more invested in their own group members. I'd be up for giving him the benefit of the doubt. 


 Based upon your additional interactions with Dr Y., then you can decide if you really want to join his group/the program or not. Ask Dr X. what would happen if Dr Y. is unable to take you as his student - are there other PIs you could work for. A lot of the time in grad school the onus is on the prospective student to contact PIs, ask if they're recruiting and generally sell themselves. The professor you've been in contact with should be willing to vouch for you or maybe send an introductory email, but I don't think they are obliged to do all the work for you.

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