I'm currently a master's student in computer science, thinking about applying to PhD programs. As I detailed in this post, I had the audacity to ask my advisor why he hadn't let me work on projects that he allowed other students with equivalent qualifications to work on and instead had me working on a project that, according to one of his co-authors, was not publishable (it was more of an industry thing and they were just going to stick it on the internet somewhere). In response, he
fired me from my gave someone else the TA position he had said I would have and now isn't even responding to my emails. (And he refused to answer any of the questions I'd asked him, btw.)
Is it even possible to salvage my chances of getting into a top PhD program after this? He's a famous professor and very well regarded in his field. A letter of recommendation from him would have been CRITICAL in my applications to PhD programs. Now, I not only don't have a publication to my name, but have NOTHING to show for a project I worked three months on. I know that conflicts between advisors and students are typical, but do they typically result in a totally burned bridge without even a LOR? Presumably, my potential bridges with everyone he knows (several professors in other schools) are also burned for me as well!
I suppose I can try to find someone else in the department to do research with, but
this setback has delayed my application by at least a year, and
the only professor in my area who seems nice enough to work with is a very junior professor, and my understanding is that a LOR from a well-known professor is critical. (I've met all the other professors in my school in my chosen specialty and they all come off as complete assholes.)
I am left with a few questions:
Did I just completely blow my chances? If not, how can I possibly get on my feet to be a competitive PhD applicant by next year?
How is it possible to find a nice, supportive advisor?? I had done my due diligence: I talked to several of my advisor's students, and they had nothing but good things to say about him. I'm not sure what other sources I could possibly find. A friend of mine did the same with a different advisor, only for his true colors to come out after several months of working with him as well. Is it really just a roll of the dice, where even if I get into a PhD program, odds are the advisor is going to turn out to be an asshole?
In the future, am I just supposed to keep my mouth shut even if I have reservations about the project I'm working on?
UPDATE: This experience (and a couple others) soured me on academia completely and I ended up going into industry instead. So far so good.