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Need some advice for graduate research


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5 replies to this topic

#1 scgradstudent

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:12 PM

Hi,

I'm looking for a little advice on graduate research. Recently I've had some trouble in my career as a graduate student. Short story, I was in a research lab where the PI was chair of the department and was never really around. My research stalled and never really went anywhere. I've worked on various projects of my own design, but all failed because of either technical reasons, impossible to do, or the environment changed in my sampling area and my questions became irrelevant. My advisor came by my desk at the end of the last spring semester and said that he didn't want me in his lab anymore. He never lifted a finger to help me. It was a detrimental blow to my ego, my scientific mind, and my personality.
Well after I came back home, talked with a few people (friends, old advisors), I've decided that I'm wanting to go back to graduate school. So I've started the search again for looking for a new graduate advisor. The problem that I have encountered though is that I feel like I have lost interest in everything science. I was in a microbial ecology lab and I've been searching for professors in that area, but after reading their bios, it just seems like it’s not exciting to me anymore. Then I've changed for more general biology, but again, just nothing hit me as top notch science. I'm not sure what do. Is there any way to regain my interest in Biology? Have I been hurt beyond prepared? Does anyone out there know of anyone in a similar situation and does anyone have any advice to give me? Thanks for listening to my rant.

#2 science noob

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:42 PM

Hi,

I'm looking for a little advice on graduate research. Recently I've had some trouble in my career as a graduate student. Short story, I was in a research lab where the PI was chair of the department and was never really around. My research stalled and never really went anywhere. I've worked on various projects of my own design, but all failed because of either technical reasons, impossible to do, or the environment changed in my sampling area and my questions became irrelevant. My advisor came by my desk at the end of the last spring semester and said that he didn't want me in his lab anymore. He never lifted a finger to help me. It was a detrimental blow to my ego, my scientific mind, and my personality.
Well after I came back home, talked with a few people (friends, old advisors), I've decided that I'm wanting to go back to graduate school. So I've started the search again for looking for a new graduate advisor. The problem that I have encountered though is that I feel like I have lost interest in everything science. I was in a microbial ecology lab and I've been searching for professors in that area, but after reading their bios, it just seems like it’s not exciting to me anymore. Then I've changed for more general biology, but again, just nothing hit me as top notch science. I'm not sure what do. Is there any way to regain my interest in Biology? Have I been hurt beyond prepared? Does anyone out there know of anyone in a similar situation and does anyone have any advice to give me? Thanks for listening to my rant.


Hope you've recovered from your past bad experience. Did you previous supervisor give you any valid reasons for terminating your studentship? Sound like you were asked to leave without going through a process. Haven't heard of such a case where a student was forced to quit (it has always been the other way round).

The question you need to ask is: "Am I ready to commit my heart, soul and life (literally) to the potential project". Research demands alot from a student and most importantly you need to find a supervisor whom you can work under with minimal issues. I suggest maybe going for a work experience or internship at your target lab just to find out more about the lab structure/environment, your supervisor's personality and how he/she does things.

I believe that in science, we have to be able to bounce back from failure (happens alot in research, especially when experiments don't go your way). We cannot just sit in our chair lamenting past failures when there's a future ahead.

#3 Rute

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 04:44 AM

Hey,

I am sorry for what happened to you, but as said above you cannot let that define your future.
Again, i also agree that research is very demanding and in your spirit it might be dificult to start something new and be comited.
I would also advise you to either volunter in a particular lab you find interesting or apply to a research schoolarship to feel the field you'll be working in and the social environment in the lab.

I was not in the same position as you but I also did know what I was interested in. So, I applied to a research schoolarship and worked for 1 year in a lab. That decision was crucial for me as it showed me the field of research I wanted to do my PhD. Also, it was very important to se if me and my supervisor "connected".

Hope it helps.
Best of luck

#4 leelee

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 07:16 PM

I think given that you had troubles with your past supervisor, it is a really really good idea to work in the lab you are considering for your PhD before you commit to it. Give it a few months to see how well you work with your supervisor, how available they are, how you fit in with everyone else. These things might seem trivial but they can make or break a good PhD (seen it happen several times).

Good luck :)

#5 kikieb

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 02:41 AM

You are in an unfortunate situation, and my best advice would be to talk to other graduate students in your institution (or perhaps the program director) and get some recommendations for good advisors who are active in the lab. You chose a Department Chair (a person with huge responsibility outside the lab) and they need people in the lab who are very independent. These tend to be bad labs for graduate students, but can be very good for experienced postdocs. Younger PIs tend to be more active in the lab because they have fewer outside demands (teaching, committees), and they are desperate for publications and grants to succeed (so they can not afford to let you flounder in the lab). Ask around. Some students might be able to steer you to a strong mentor who give lots of individualized attention. Then talk to the PI and rotate in the lab. Once you get into the project, you might find it sparks your interest. Almost everything in science is interesting if you know enough about it to understand what the intriguing questions are!

Good Luck!

#6 Adrian K

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:01 AM

Well, you are not the only one who meet with bad supervisors. My supervisors didn't teach me much also, and I'm left to learn and troubleshoot everything by myself, not forget to mention how unsupportive they were. I understand how you feel. Give yourself some time, leave the research lab for a while, work in industry and you will know whether you still want to do research anymore. This is what I am currently doing. I gain more experience in industry than in research lab.
Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the lion not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.

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