This blog series is of my personal opinions and experiences in grad school. My personal bad experience may not necessarily reflect the situations in most academia settings but I hope this will shed some light to people about the good and bad of academia. This is my way to vent some of my frustration in this top-down hierachical environment of the lab I am in.
I would like to first apologies on my presumptuous statement about the actions of the professors about shaming his students although I am aware that his intention were so that the student themself can develop and formulate those research questions by themself but nevertheless this action of his should have been done privately and not publicly. In my opinion, this action of his was of just pure laziness as there is little to no effort of his part as this could be easily done by a thrid part professors as an extremely generic advice. I can understand if this action of his at the later stage of one doctoral studies but this attitude of his is the same for everyone and it was right from day one of a doctoral students. How can you expect one to know everything from the start when one has no freaking idea on how to start? It was just plain laziness and iresponsible of this professor to treat every student the same where in fact in reality one should adjust and commodate the needs of one student so that it might bring the best of every students. I been through multiple interviews in the UK when I was applying for PhD, as professors needed to know my ability and personality as how can well I can “mesh” in their research/laboratory. As a student of his, I am just filled with uncertainty of my own future and my future looks very bleak to me as I never felt even once that I had a supervisor I can look upon to when I am facing trouble. I can say the past 2 years it was lonely.
“The good teacher is the one that gives you the tools to ask the right questions. Who introduces you to things you have not seen before.”
- wise words from Nobel Laureate France Arnold.
The recent Nobel cremony make even realised how much lacking I had in support for my PhD and frankly speaking, the very lie that I could do “any” research in this university with my “pretigeous” scholarship was in fact just a fading dream. My research so far has met with trouble after trouble because the laboratory simply could not afford because how much they tunnel on a problem and yet could not publish a single damn thing on the progress of their research. It does not need ground-breaking result but even a simple update to their previous result with a larger dateset would be sufficiently enough for a publication. The next year round of funding would probably not get through as the past 2 year there is not even a single publication about the progress of the experiment. The only publication they did was just something that was done more than 3 years ago. The professors does not even give us the tool that would allow us to ask the right questions. How you would expect a student to think up a question themself when they do not even have the slightest clue of it. My MPhys supervisor gave my few articles to read on regarding my MPhys thesis topic, astrophysical neutirno at IceCube which had gave me the necessary push for me to start my research on that very topic where subsequently I read other article of it and began my own journey to look for answer on this topic. Whereas here in Japan, I was never given anything but only extremely generic advice of what I can do. I had zero clue on how should I have started and where to look for a topic. This is completely opposite to that quote by Nobel laurate. There was no tools for me to begin to even ask question at all. I have look for answer myself and took unnessary long road to learn what I needed to learn. At the end of it, I was left with even lesser than time than it is. This was irresponsible of how one professor can do to destroy the future path of a student into academia where one had to resort to “connection” to succeed. The senior that “graduated” before when I am here, none has even proceed to post-doctorate or any academia role. One of my senior even said that he gave up academia because how bleak the future it was.
Last week, something happened to me that even myself was suprised with it, a panic attack. It is something I suspected and I will probably have to meet with psychiatric to confirm this supecion of mine. I always identify myself as someone who is calm and rational but that episode of panic attack last thursday really caught me off guard when I realised I made a mistake although in reality it was not a serious mistake that is conseqeuntial to anything. I am planning to make an apointment so I can have a confirmation on this mental health issue and hope that it will be something controlable. I will probably keep this to myself and some of my closest people in my life.
I am very much aware that I probably would not be able to continue into academia and even if I manage to, it would be extremely difficult of a jump I have to made. So far any student “graduated” by this professor, the professor choose the committe himself and ultimately in my opinion the professor is the judge, the prosecuter and the jury. A student need not to graduate properly like properly publish their thesis within a year completing the PhD. They can leave with a “PhD” but not albeit a “complete” one. It probably will not be vetted by an external auditor like how I would expect in the UK through a 3hour long viva by external experts. I know I will probably either leave without a PhD and a doctorate that will be just for “show” where it would be impossible to continue to academia. Deep down in my heart, this professor is selfish and a lazy bastard. My dream of becoming a full feldge physcist and a research is utter shattered where I would probably work a 9-5 desk job living a non-scientist life.