DendWrite

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Oct 19, 2008
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I've been working for this PI over the summer who continuously berates me and criticizes everything that I do. I understand that criticism is warrented when I make a mistake, but when the results turn out just as good as when he does it, but he sees fit to correct some minor error. There is no such thing as "good work," even when it's 12-14 hours per day of free labor from a motivated undergrad. I know that I'm not God's gift to science, but you'd think that someone interested, enthusiastic, willing to learn and with an attention to detail would be a little bit more well-received.

I'm just taking it every day and putting up with it, but it is honestly driving me crazy. There is no way he is going to write me a letter of recommendation, even though I've put in a lot of work. Today he blamed me for mixing up samples (which I didn't) because the data didn't come out to be "statistically significant." Nevermind the fact that when I haven't been accused of switching samples, this individual's hypothesis has also failed to meet the statistical criterion of significance.

I want to go into medicine, I want to do an MD/PhD, but not if I have to deal with cynical, sadistic bastards every day who I depend upon for my grade, salary, free time, quality of life, and general well-being.

Help.
 

RogueUnicorn

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everyone has a research crisis... find another PI if you truly feel this particular situation is not working out
 
Jul 13, 2009
104
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Pre-Medical
I'm sure someone will post here soon telling you that you're unprofessional and inept, and that you'll never make it in medicine if you insist on experiencing human emotions in response to being poorly treated.:rolleyes:

I'm sorry to hear about you experience. The guy sounds like a d-bag. Either find a new PI if possible, or just do your best to keep your head down and do what you have to do. I agree with aphios5 too. Remember this guy when you're successful. You can help cultivate the interests of your underlings and inspire them to pursue science by treating them as equals and making them feel that they're a part of the team rather than a burden.
 

NickNaylor

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PIs are incredibly variable. My PI this summer treats me as one of his own graduate students and takes time out of his day to answer questions and explain techniques. I'm guessing this is on the opposite side of the spectrum from your PI, but helpful PIs do exist.

Tough it out and keep doing the best you can. At the end of the summer, request a letter and see what he says. You never know unless you ask.
 
Jul 15, 2009
159
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I don't know all of the particulars of your situation, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but maybe switch to another lab? If your PI isn't willing to recommend you, then your work may not hold as much weight when you apply. And of course, there's little sense in doing something when you're miserable.
 

adele87

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I'm sure someone will post here soon telling you that you're unprofessional and inept, and that you'll never make it in medicine if you insist on experiencing human emotions in response to being poorly treated.:rolleyes:
Yes! It's your fault! Suck it up! Life isn't fair! Stop being so entitled!

Anyway, yeah, I would find a new lab ASAP. Life is too short. This isn't a graduate thesis project so unless you have some other kind of commitment to the lab past this summer, you should be able to find someone else who is reasonable and accepting and working on a project you find interesting. Such PIs do exist ... good luck! :)
 

BerlinDude

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Jul 2, 2009
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If PI isn't willing to recommend you, he certainly won't give you a co-authorship. So what's the point in staying in his lab? In fact, it might be a stain on your app if you work for someone too long without a letter.

I worked for a guy like that. He would just pull a hypothesis from out of nowhere, fall in love with it, and when it didn't work out came up with some stupid comment like "maybe there was an air bubble in your pipette, you should pipette carefully". I wish I left his lab sooner.

You're not going to get anything out of these people and you're not obligated to stick with them.
 

ziggydoc

Growing a Heart
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I agree with what everyone is saying, some PIs are so cut throat, I usually look for PIs that have been around for a long time, and so they are more established/settled in, and aren't going to jump down your throat if some tiny thing goes wrong since they usually already have good grants that last years.

I would stick it out if it is only for the summer, and maybe leave a week or two early and say you have to go back to school early, or going on vac. Its too late in the summer to switch to another lab, and even if he doesn't give you a letter, not sticking it out may look bad later on.
 

buffywannabe

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May 15, 2009
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My lab job sucks too. What would you guys do about this? There are multiple lab techs where I work. I started about 4 months ago. One guy has been there like 2 years. he applied to grad school this year, and I was supposed to be his replacement. Well he didn't get into grad school, so my PI decided to let him be in grad school in his lab. I think this guy thinks he is hot s*** now because he is always bossing me around. I have as much research experience as him and as many publications... I don't know why he thinks he is so much better than me. Today he thought of a task and said it was for me to do if I wanted. Then he back tracked and said it doesn't matter if I want to do it or not it is a task for me. What a jerk... I know that I am supposed to do it but he could at least pretend to respect me... So when he does start grad school I really nervous he is going to think that I am HIS lab tech and try to act even more bossy to me. What should I do? I want to quit so badly. The rude comments come daily but I don't want to talk to my boss and seem like a complainer.
 

supergumbo

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Dec 22, 2008
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If PI isn't willing to recommend you, he certainly won't give you a co-authorship. So what's the point in staying in his lab? In fact, it might be a stain on your app if you work for someone too long without a letter.

I worked for a guy like that. He would just pull a hypothesis from out of nowhere, fall in love with it, and when it didn't work out came up with some stupid comment like "maybe there was an air bubble in your pipette, you should pipette carefully". I wish I left his lab sooner.

You're not going to get anything out of these people and you're not obligated to stick with them.
This. Ask him to write you a recommendation pretty much the next time you see him. If he refuses, get out and find another PI. No point in continuing his work if he refuses to give you a rec letter, your only compensation.
 

JeetKuneDo

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Oct 25, 2008
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My lab job sucks too. What would you guys do about this? There are multiple lab techs where I work. I started about 4 months ago. One guy has been there like 2 years. he applied to grad school this year, and I was supposed to be his replacement. Well he didn't get into grad school, so my PI decided to let him be in grad school in his lab. I think this guy thinks he is hot s*** now because he is always bossing me around. I have as much research experience as him and as many publications... I don't know why he thinks he is so much better than me. Today he thought of a task and said it was for me to do if I wanted. Then he back tracked and said it doesn't matter if I want to do it or not it is a task for me. What a jerk... I know that I am supposed to do it but he could at least pretend to respect me... So when he does start grad school I really nervous he is going to think that I am HIS lab tech and try to act even more bossy to me. What should I do? I want to quit so badly. The rude comments come daily but I don't want to talk to my boss and seem like a complainer.
Man, I feel bad for you. I agree, ask for the LOR, if he doesn't give it just quit.
 

Narmerguy

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Definitely leave. Graduate students may have to put up with that crap but as an undergrad you can jump labs.
 

Katatonic

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You could try asking for an LoR now, but either way you should leave that lab. There are some truly great PIs out there who can change your whole outlook on science and research simply by being a supportive mentor. I've been lucky enough to encounter two such PIs and it's been an incredible experience. Don't get too discouraged by the a**holes, just move on to the next lab that will take you!
 

ReptarBar

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if he doesnt want to write the LOR, you better leave and cuss at him while youre at it. screw being the better man...you need to teach him a lesson now so he doesnt do the same to other kids.
 
Jul 13, 2009
104
3
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Pre-Medical
if he doesnt want to write the LOR, you better leave and cuss at him while youre at it. screw being the better man...you need to teach him a lesson now so he doesnt do the same to other kids.
And kick him in the nuts before you leave. :laugh: