I am currently just finishing up my 2nd year as a PhD student in the life sciences. I was informed about 10 months ago that my advisor and our entire lab will be moving to another University this summer. I agreed to join my advisor (I will remain enrolled at a student at my current university and would earn my PhD from here) and would finish my remaining research at the new university.

Over the past month and a half I have been feeling increasingly depressed and anxious about moving and just thinking of all I need to do in order to complete my degree over the next 2-3 years has my head spinning (I am told it is normal to feel this way while in grad school, but with the added stress of moving I am not so sure I can handle it all). Additionally, I am unsure of whether or not I can handle working with my advisor over the next several years as he has become increasingly irritable during the moving process and is often very micromanaging and demeaning to me and other lab members during meetings.

At this point I am working on a manuscript for one project I started working on a year and a half ago but still have a lot of planning to do for my next projects. I have been contemplating moving to another lab simply because I am not sure if I have the self-esteem to continue working in the lab I am currently in. My advisor has a track record of producing very successful students, but at this point I question whether or not I will even be able to make it through.

I love science (if I left the program with a master's I would want to work in industry), and sometimes my anxiety and depressed feelings go away when I have a really cool or interesting idea for a project, but my enthusiasm for science is slowly waning. I suppose my question is if these feelings or thoughts are normal to have midway during a PhD and are just exacerbated by the stress of moving, or are they signs that research is not for me?


Your advisor may be under a great deal of stress too -- so you may want to take that into account.

You could:

  • Decide you've gone far enough with your studies (for now, at least), and withdraw from the program, giving yourself a pat on the back for the hard work you've put in so far.

  • Apply and transfer to the other university. Many people do this when their advisor goes somewhere else.

  • Remain formally enrolled in your current university, but do all your practical work in the new place.

  • Stay where you are but work with someone else.

Only you can decide.

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