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Thread: Calling al Phds, Faculty, ex- and current academics,.....

  1. #1 Calling al Phds, Faculty, ex- and current academics,..... 
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    Jun 2010
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    I need to take a survey from a braod cross-section, but I need the opinions to come from those who have knowledge of the culture, limitations and conventions of academic life/careers in life science/biology specifically.

    I am currently a graduate student (PhD) in Zoology at ____ University. I began as a thesis masters student, but after a year, my major professor (Dr. Douche Bag) convinced me to change my program to PhD. Because I was an idiot who hadn't really taken charge of my own program, I allowed this (I think part of me wanted the sercurity of knowing where I would be living for the next 5 years). I have now spent a couple of years trying to reconcile myself to working on the type of projects I am stuck with b/c of my decision.

    Anyway, I have been chronically miserable now for 2 years (maybe three, ever since I came to _____University). There were signs early on that it wasn't working for me, but I didn't recognize them for what they were. I thought it was just a personal problem (like I was just a lazy person etc., which he definitly thinks is true. I totally have a confidence problem since I joined the lab) Not showing up to the lab much, flakey schedule, lack of motivation, no "spark"/innovative ideas, you get the picture. Dr. Douche Bag was really concerned about me not being in the lab much, but I couldn't see that I had anything that needed to be done in the lab. I mean, I had reading and coursework, no real research proposal. But still, it's like a magical formula to him. "If you are physially in the lab 25 hrs a week you will get a PhD."

    I work on model based phylogenetic inference, which I do have a love for. However, Dr. Douch Bags approach to the feild is old fashioned and stagnant. He wants to write the same paper over and over with slight variations in the data set and model. He also will not promote me doing any wet-lab (DNA isolation/amplification etc.) because he has significant anxiety (like legit medical condition, plus skewed world-view) and also because he feels I am not detail oriented enough to do it right (which is crap). Thus, the data set can't grow and I cannot work with the new creative evolutionary models (he doesn't trust the theory or my ability. Again, crap).

    In short, I am not working on anything we discussed as a possibility before I came to his lab ( I am his only student and he has never graduated a PhD, which I didn't know). He needs me to be physically present because he can't have an independant thought and must instead squeeze one out of me after a 2 hour conversation about something pedantic.

    Sorry for the flip-out. The thing is, I feel I came under false pretenses. I know I need a new lab that is congruent with my interests and will not suck the life out of me. I am leaving ______ University. The question is how to do it so that it will have minimal impact on my career ( I will continue on the PhD track elsewhere)

    Options:

    1. I have a project (that I hate) which can probably be thrown together for a Masters theisis. Thus I could leave with the MS maybe. I am not sure I can get this project past my commitee though as it is quite lame and maybe not publishable.

    >questions:
    how does already having a masters impact me in terms os securing outside funding?
    how will this impact admission to another PhD program?

    2. I wheedle my department out of a non-thesis MS. This would be messy as it is usually reserved for education track types.

    > How does a non-thesis masters impact my admission to another PhD program?

    3. I just leave without a degree. On the one hand, I've been here long enough that I should leave with something in my hand; on the other, I am not sure I can last long enough to finish and I want a rapid, clean break.

    >How will this impact a potential advisors willinness to take me? IOW, how will this impact admission to another PhD program?

    More info:

    I have one, second author pub in a good journal. Excellent TA experience in Anatomy and physiology. very strong background in phylogenetic theory and methods.

    Any knowledgeable input would be welcome. Esp. opinions from faculty about what the might ask/think if I contacted them about joining with the approach:

    "I just felt like my last lab was not a good fit. My interests diverged and became incompatible,.....etc. Brief and non-personal" (so not like this post)

    Sorry for the length.


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