My Ph.D. advisor left my university, but I decided to keep working with him remotely. Now, he does not have time for me, and I feel the only solution is to quit my Ph.D. How difficult will it be to avail of another Ph.D. position?
I started my Ph.D. in theoretical condensed matter physics in September 2019 from Uni-X under the supervision of Prof-A. I had three other Ph.D. offers at the time, but I chose this Ph.D. because I wanted to work with Prof-A. I was "mad-crazy" to learn a theory, and Prof-A was actively working on this theory.
After two months of my joining Uni-X, Prof-A took a sabbatical leave and went to Uni-Y. However, when the Corona pandemic happened, Prof-A decided that he would permanently leave Uni-X, and he offered me three options
- Apply for a Ph.D. position at Uni-Y at work with him
- Stay at Uni-X and move to another research group and work with another professor
- Stay at Uni-X, move to another research work but remotely keep working with him
I could not choose option (1) because of the pandemic and "no funding" for new professors at Uni-Y. Option (2) was a clear no-go for me because no other group (I repeat, not even one group) was working on theoretical condensed matter physics in Uni-X. Because I was so stubborn to work with Prof-A, I chose option (3) and joined the research group of Prof-B, who is a very good friend of Prof-A. Biggest mistake of my life (so far).
Progress of my Ph.D. and relation with Prof-A and Prof-B has been as follows:
1st year (Sept-2019 to Sept-2020): I was focused on coursework and the Ph.D. qualification exam. I had fortnightly meetings with Prof-A about potential Ph.D. projects. I had very little contact with Prof-B because he didn't care what I was doing.
2nd year (Sept-2020 to Sept-2021): Prof-A and I started working on a project. But he began to give me less and less time. He could arrange only one meeting in one month. Still very little interaction with Prof-B because of the covid pandemic.
3rd year (Sept-2021 to today): I talked with Prof-A and explicitly told him that I needed more time (fortnightly meetings). Things started to change; I felt like my Ph.D. was finally moving. I defended my Ph.D. proposal on 2nd Feb 2022. But right after my proposal, Prof-A again started ghosting me. After the 2nd Feb meeting, I could speak with him in April. Also, I began to meet with Prof-B weekly. I update him on my progress, but unfortunately, he is not very familiar with the mathematical theory we are using, so he always says, "sounds good, keep working!".
Since Feb 2022, I have been stuck on the second part of the project we started in 2020. I am stuck because I didn't take two courses about a math-heavy theory. Prof-A was the only person in this institute who knew this theory, and he used to teach this. Ever since he left, nobody has been teaching that. I asked Prof-A to help me understand some theoretical points, but he is too busy to help. I asked Prof-B for help, and he said he is not an expert in this field, so he can't help.
I am so burned out because of this Ph.D. I see no one in this institute who can help me; everyone is either an experimentalist or doing computer simulations of some materials. In the whole Physics department, I am the only guy working on theoretical physics. I believe this is the reason why Prof-A left this institute.
I see no future here. But I also don't want just to quit. I want to get a Ph.D. I want to ask a simple question: How difficult would it be to find another Ph.D. if I quit this Ph.D. in 3rd year?