I worked as an undergraduate volunteer researcher, and then worked in an industry laboratory before returning to school. And my program did not have have rotations. I am starting to wonder what I got myself into because it seems like I was thrown into the deep end on my first day of swim lessons. I thought there would be training and community work to get us to the point where we could be independent by the end of our graduate career, not at the beginning. I basically feel like my boss wanted a postdoc and expected a graduate student to know what to do.
Originally, I thought it was me, but based on the following list of evidences maybe it is not.
My advisor told me that she only talked with her advisor a couple of times a year during her PHD.
I am the first graduate student she has had and she constantly refers to how underprepared American grad students are.
Our program has since offered rotations, some of the students rotated through our laboratory and they had skills far below me when I started. They all said they did not want to work for her because she expected too much and provided no direction. Some of them did not know how to run gels or do transformations for instance.
Even undergraduate students have a short lifespan in her laboratory. Many claiming it stressed them out.
My project has nothing to do with anything else in the lab, and to answer the questions in my project, I have to do techniques that no one in the lab knows. Each one takes months to get working right and has resulted in slow progress. I asked if I could be involved in her main project, which she has NIH funding for, and she said that I will just be seen as a helper unless I have my own idea that is completely separate from hers. She says that my troubleshooting needs to improve if I cant do these techniques quickly.
I really thought I was just not good enough, but I’m starting to think not. I have participated in journal clubs with other graduate students at the university, and I can tell they are way less knowledgable about the experiments and the purpose of each step in the paper.
Can someone give me some guidance on what to do? I have started running out of motivation, to be honest. I honestly want to see if she will let me leave with a master’s, so I can just leave science all together. My passion is gone she has ruined my love of science and the community. If I ask to leave with a master’s, she may just fire me, though. I really need a master’s to get a specific job, I want after this, but I don’t know what to do. The only thing I still like is bioinformatics, because there are a lot of self-teaching tools for that, and she can’t hold me back from exploring questions in programs.
Can I switch to another advisor for a year and leave with a master’s?