My boyfriend, Mark, is pursuing his PhD in Aerospace Engineering at a prestigious school. He has just finished up his 2nd year and passed his qualifying exam last semester. His adviser is Chinese, and the two other students are Chinese as well.
My boyfriend, being the only American citizen, feels like he is more or less the designated "proof-reader," always writing and editing their papers, presentation, and even their post-doc's papers. On top of that, his adviser is a "paper-pusher" and is more interested in publishing papers than the actual research. There have been instances of "academic fraud" where data plot graphs depicting test results are shown with a perfect straight line. Research papers and perfect results seem to be the most important thing in which his adviser is interested. Mark is very unhappy with the lab group dynamic (it's very difficult being the only American student), and the research.
When Mark first visited the university during his senior year of undergrad, many professors had turned him down (he had a 3.0 GPA, which barely makes the cut-off), except for this adviser. Mark feels indebted to this one advisor who showed faith in Mark. Although nice, the advisor did leave Mark to believe that the research and studies would be focused on Thermal-Fluids and aircraft design. This adviser has a track record with the university being misleading and vague. The research that Mark has been doing for the past 2 years have strayed away further and further from what he actually wants to do.
Now being in graduate school for 2 years, Mark has maintained a 3.9 GPA. He has spoken to another professor about his research. This professor is interested in Mark and has the funding to provide to Mark, but is very concerned about poaching students, even though Mark was the one who approached this professor.
Mark has tried to convey to his current professor that he is unhappy with the research and the lab-group dynamic. He also mentioning about this other professor. Instead of "quitting" oh his current professor, he tried to compromise saying how he can have "co-advisers" still working with his current adviser, but getting funding with the other. He tried to meet in the middle, but instead his current adviser dismissed this idea and avoided the situation.
Mark then talked to the administration: the department head and another person who handles these cases. They agree with him, and come to understand the situation. Like mentioned, this adviser has a track record of being misleading, so they are aware of his intentions. When the four of them met, the adviser was very angry, calling this meeting unprofessional and unnecessary, talking about Mark like he wasn't in the room, and accusing the other professor (who was absent) of poaching. It became apparent during this meeting this adviser is more invested in the research (in fear of losing lab researchers), than Mark's academic future and his studies.
Two days after this meeting, the adviser sends Mark a very long email. It entails a very "guilt trip" paragraph claiming that he wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him (how others turned him down for funding). He also seems to be playing the victim card saying he wished that Mark had talked to him about this. He also mentioned that he had talked to the other professor.
It appears that this is a very manipulating and toxic adviser. What Mark is concerned about is what his current adviser had talked to this new professor about. This new professor is VERY concerned about making it seem like he is poaching Mark away from his adviser. He is concerned that the new professor will back out of all of this, and he will be left going back to his old adviser since he's depending on funding.
What should he do in this specific situation? Any thoughts, suggestions, insight will be helpful.