So I'm a summer student at a lab and I feel thoroughly abused and I just wanted to know if this was normal. I only have a two-month summer this year as a medical student and I wanted to do some research, hopefully end up with a publication. I could have done clinical research and guaranteed myself a paper but I wanted to work in a wet lab because I really liked it. I had a very successful undergrad honors project in X-Ray crystallography and I figured there wasn't enough time to be trained in a completely new field, so I chose the only X-ray crystallography lab in the city. When the PI and I first met to discuss working with each other, I said I don't care much about financial compensation but I would like a publication. He said he would give me an independent project with good publication potential, and we ended on a good note.
However, when I started at the lab a month later, I realized that he switched projects on me without telling me, and was having me work with this abusive and condescending PhD student who was verbally and emotionally abusive to me (he once yelled at me because I did serial dilutions for a bradford assay standard curve instead of pipetting each volume and told me to 'go get a degree' before changing a protocol). The PI and I never spoke with each other and only the PhD communicated with me (now I realize that the PhD has been continually badmouthing me for whatever reason). But the PhD doesn't spend any time at the bench himself; just tells me what to do. I have no creative freedom to do anything, and I am basically his high-functioning robot. He is very closed minded and is not open to even the smallest of suggestions and never admits he can be wrong. This didn't mean I didn't work any less hard, I was consistently working 12 to 16-hour days. The PhD did not do any bench work, and he stays in his office all day.
It was honestly torture for so long, and last week, which is my third last week at the lab, I got crystals. I was really happy and like any other normal crystallographer, I want to optimize these crystals and get data. However, the PhD told me that the PI wants to crystallize another construct. He now wants me to screen this other construct (that I already screened with no results) in the cold (which is obviously not pleasant) and doesn't care much about the crystals I actually got. I told him that I didn't want to, since I won't have time to follow up on these experiments (only 12 working days left) even if there were results and Id like to focus my efforts on optimization. I directly emailed the PI about it yesterday, and he said that was fine, but do one more simple assay, which I agreed to.
However, I was sick this morning so I couldn't go into work; however, just 2 hours later, the PI sends me a rude email planning out my last 2 weeks for me day by day (which consists of way more hours than the 8 hours a day that I'm being paid for including five 13-hour days), and telling me to have my lab book signed by him at the end of the day. I have no doubt that the PhD badmouthed me to him.
As a summer student, not a grad student or a postdoc or even an honors student but a summer student, I feel completely abused and I feel like my hard work at this lab will not only end up with no publication (even though I got crystals....) but also I feel like my hard work and the abuse I endured at this lab isn't even being recognized. I'm honestly not sure what to do. I didn't have to do research this summer at all but I liked wet lab so much that I decided to go into this lab; now I feel undermined and disrespected and I have lost all the passion I ever have had for research.
I'd honestly like to quit right now but that probably means that my name won't be on the paper even if they end up using my crystals or even if my crystals give diffraction data that they end up using for a paper. Seeing as publication was what I wanted, I'm in a bind. So... sorry for the long story and rant... but what should I do?
P.S. Oh, another thing that's f'ed up about this lab; the lab tech is married to the prof and she's constantly spying and reporting. It's really scary.