I proposed a project about twistor formulations in noncommutative geometry for alternative theories of gravity to a professor to apply for a PhD program in physics in 2019, and though the professor didn't have any publications concerning the theories and techniques in my proposed project, he signed on to agree to supervise me to work on that project. And the PhD program also admitted me.
Then due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, I couldn't arrive at the university until October 2020. However, since my arrival, the professor seemed to always talk to me in a tyrannical or sarcastic tone. He always criticized me, even for trivial matters, often as negatively as he can, and never praised me. In all, he is irrational, surly, capricious and thus very difficult to cope with. Since I feel it is so hard to work in such a negative environment, I took the excuse that I am not sure if I am interested in so mathematics-oriented research he does in noncommutative geometry to resign from him as it’s like he wants to speak like even withdrawing from the supervision agreement is my mistake - he is a person who never admits it’s his fault whenever things don’t go well.
The scenario of our resignation from each other is as follows. He asked me to make a presentation 3 times and was never satisfied with it - every time he kept asking me very basic questions, like what is a vector, tensor, metric, covariant derivative, etc., making me to explain everything from the very beginning, even the conventional notations, and caviled and scorning me throughout the process to run out of time before I could finish my presentation. Then at my request, he let one of his students show me an example of the kind of presentation he expected and gave me a final chance to make a presentation satisfying him. He said if I can’t make such a presentation, I can’t work on mathematical physics. On that day, he went to my office asking me if I was ready to make that presentation, then, as I hesitated, he started to talk with me about PhD studies - he said my progress is too slow to carry out that project in the given PhD period, so it's better that I work on something else, like experimental physics, or just resign the PhD. I felt he completely didn't believe in my ability and held me in so low contempt; I realized his previous criticizing and scorning me was treating me like a clown. I thus felt so sad that I thought I couldn't work with him any further.
After calming down, I thought about the reasons for his treating me that way from my arrival. I think the reason is very likely that he wants to try his best to discourage me from working with him on that project, because he found not only he but also I am not familiar with the theories and techniques in the project, so that to work out results in 4 years may be problematic. I think he is not familiar with the project because he seems to rarely answer my scientific questions in that project - he either said "so what?" or "please focus on basic questions first." On the other hand, he also has no publications about the project.
Then we each wrote a mail to the program’s head to resign from each other in the end of February, 2021. The head seems not to know that professor well in person, so can’t judge it’s whose mistake, and just approved my request to change my supervisor. But he seems not be able to help me with looking for a new supervisor at all - he does not know which researchers in the faculty are engaged with the research topics I hope to work on to suggest them to me - the only thing he does is to threaten me from time to time to kick me out of the doctoral school if I don’t join a research group soon. This constant threat makes me feel uneasy and lack peace of mind.
In the beginning, I thought finding a new supervisor should not be too difficult, but later I found it’s not that easy. I approached several researchers, and though almost all of them invited me to have a talk with them and most of them even spoke in a way like they could be my supervisor in the beginning, none of them was willing to declare to be my supervisor afterwards. The reason is one of the following: they don’t have PhD projects in mind nor can they supervise me on my proposed project with which they don’t have experience; they are going to retire; they already have many students or they think I have no sufficient time to learn their research techniques since I have lost some time since the beginning of my PhD studies; they don’t feel safe to take me because they don’t know me much. I think in general, the situation is that no researcher in the faculty is engaged in topics close to the research I did during my MSc and those who work on topics much different from my MSc research don’t think I have sufficient background knowledge to do their research nor do they think I have sufficient time to learn. Some other PhD student said I just need to find a researcher who can sign to be my supervisor but doesn’t need to really collaborate with me, but I think this is not easy - except for that professor I originally contacted for admission, I have not found any researcher who is willing to sign to be my supervisor to let me work on topics they don’t have experience with.
The program’s head has sent a letter to the director of the doctoral school to suggest to kick me out of the doctoral school with the reason of having no scientific progress. However, the program’s head sent that letter only based on the fact that no researcher signed to be my supervisor. Since resigning from the supervision of that tyrannical professor, I actually have taken multiple courses and studied topics of those researchers I approached in the hope of being able to work with them. It’s just because I wander from topic to topic, I don’t make concrete progress towards my thesis.
I also have been invited to talk with the director, and he said even if I don’t have a supervisor, I can work on my own topic, like how he did something different from his PhD supervisor’s research. But the program’s head didn’t say I can do that in the beginning, so I spent time wandering from topic to topic of different researchers. However, I think even if I really work on my own topic without a supervisor during these months, if I don’t make a publication, and if no researcher in the faculty can understand what I do, how can they judge if I have made scientific progress?
I recently made another attempt of getting a supervisor by approaching a researcher in General Relativity and Astrophysics, the department closest to my MSc research. While my MSc research is about spinor formulations of general relativity, his research is about the application of General Relativity to Astrophysics. He introduced me a project as an extension of one of his papers, and since when he did this, it’s about one week away from the time the director said to kick me out of the doctoral school if the program’s head didn’t say I can stay, he said I have to prove my skills to be able to conduct that research project in one week to talk about collaboration with him. During the first week, I could not think very well due to being sick - I think I was infected a cold in the hostel I stayed - then in the second week I sent him a note showing a result he wants me to show, but he didn’t reply me and when I visited his office next day, I didn't see him. I don’t know what he thinks about what I sent to him and whether he would talk about collaboration with me.
Nevertheless, can they kick me out of the doctoral school because I cannot find a researcher who is willing to sign to be my supervisor after resigning from the original irrational supervisor? Actually I feel I am a victim of being placed under such an irrational supervisor - I have some posttraumatic symptoms after being exposed to his extreme negative criticism - but now it's like they think it's all my mistake and want to kick me out of the doctoral school.