Advisor horror stories, continued.
Someone who wrote before writes again, this time elaborating on her horrific situation. I edited this comment only for typographical errors to make it more readable.
You're completely right. The key is to stay positive and sometimes things do happen for a reason...which may never be apparent until much down the road. (At least that's what I hope). I wrote to you a few weeks back about e-advice for my qualifying exam. The good news is that I submitted the written portion. The oral exam is coming up in 10 days. My advisor has been giving me a hard time about the days I have taken off to prepare.
She's giving me shit when I have 10 days left for the oral exam. Most other students have gotten between 4-12 weeks to prepare and study! I got exactly 15 days off for the written which is pretty scary since I have never written a grant before and my undergrad degree is in psychology.
Anyways what's sad is that my prof tries to run her lab like a company and she feels we are all her employees. She is constantly threatening me about taking these days out of my vacation time and about even not paying me. As a graduate sstudent I FEEL that she is being very unreasonable. When I try to reason with her and give her examples of more senior profs and their students her response is always I don't care.
It's sad because I am her first student ever. Is it legal for her to be doing this? Moreover she has been giving my experiments to other students to do while I am not in th lab and wants me to redo those experiments. I don't think this is ethical..and I also have my doubts about it being legal. I know in companies they have employees do the same experiments to see who gets the better results etc..but in a graduate school is this allowed?
I appreciate all your help. Thanks a lot.
Aside to the audience:
Ack! Can you believe this is actually going on in universities???
To the author:
Since when do graduate students have any vacation time?? That sounds like an empty threat to me.
But I don't know that there are any laws against her threatening you or even punishing you. The graduate program probably does not mandate that students be given any time off lab work to prepare for exams, nor does it mandate in any way that PIs be nice to their students.
In terms of how professors are supposed to mentor/advise/train students in your program, that is something you would have to look up in your university bylaws, graduate student handbook, etc.
You should see if there is an ombudsperson or other mediator service at your school.
Your attitude, however, could use some adjusting. Complaining that she's 'giving you shit' is not a very mature or diplomatic way to look at it.
I understand that it may be inpossible to have a reasoned, adult conversation with her about your obligations to her, to the program, and to your own career, but I'd strongly encourage you to try to do that if you haven't already. Since you are her first student, she may not realize that her behavior is only going to lead to you no longer being in her lab, if you fail your exams or if she's so unbearable that you leave or quit.
Does she realize that if you fail out, you'll either be gone and then she really won't be able to get you to do her experiments, or you'll need even more time to study the second time around? While most schools do give you a second chance, most don't give you a third.
And don't even get me started on what a crappy lab that must be for students. What kind of training is that, giving your experiments to someone else to do when you're gone for only a week or two?? Are your samples time-sensitive??
She doesn't sound like the kind of PI who is actually equipped to handle a university environment. Universities are slow. It's one of the things I don't love about them, but I've come to understand better why they are that way, so it doesn't bother me so much anymore and I know how long things take, so I can plan accordingly. Is she coming from industry or from years of maternity leave or something? Is she really young?
Sounds to me like a young, first-time grad student and a young, first-time PI are not a good match. It's the blindly ambitious leading the blindly terrified.
If you can't talk sense into her, get out of that lab, and do it as soon as you possibly can. Ideally you need to pass your exams first, but then you should find out what you'd need to do to switch labs.