Monday, October 22, 2007

The Inner Advisor LIVES!!

Over the last five years, my average interaction with my advisor has inspired me to scream, cry, quit grad school, or all three.

Then, one day, the Inner Advisor emerged from hibernation. I was amazed; here, suddenly, was the supportive, interested advisor I'd always needed! Now that I need nothing but editing and money, and the occasional consult, everything's great! (Alternative hypothesis: Now that I need practically nothing, he can supply.) I didn't think it would last.

Last week I went to talk to my advisor, with a list of Figures For My Paper Dammit and Experiments To Graduate By August So Help Me.

He made relevant and helpful suggestions, asked about the technical framework of one experiment, and helped me formulate the best approaches to get out. Then he said it was shaping up to be a really nice paper, and was I going to submit in March? And then I fell out of my chair in shock.

Somehow- I suspect by stubbornly doing whatever I wanted, plus getting results- I appear to have gotten his professional respect.

I don't know if it's his personality, or this whole ludicrous academic-politics framework, or lingering 1960s-style misogyny, but I do believe everyone who joins a lab should get some respect. The PI should assume that his or her people are competent, intelligent scientists, at least until they prove otherwise. We are professionals, not children, and if more of the stick-in-the-mud faculty* would recognize this fact, grad school could be a great deal more pleasant.

Only took it five years to be tolerable.

*Not all faculty, merely the jerks.