Mental health advice needed


Hello all,

I am tired and drained of the lab politics for last few years. I have been complained about several times to the lab head by I believe is only one person, and from what I understand is that my lab head wish for me to be gone to my supervisor who had recently moved to another university, so that lab harmony can continue. Unfortunately, the complaints were not true back then and it is still not true now. No specifics were given to me, and I have no clue what is going on.

My question is, why does this keep happening to me? Does anyone else have similar experiences? What can I do about it ? Do you think the university can step in? My lab head has tenure though.I have tried to keep things cordial and follow lab protocols, but that person who complained about me kept making things difficult. I wish to change lab, but my scholarship and degree is tied to my current university. I don’t even know if changing to another university would allow me to make my current scholarship and degree valid. And to add on to this stress, there is the whole COVID situation.

Please help.

Avatar for rewt

Hi TiredDrained,

Sorry about the delay. Your situation sounds awful and I can't stand lab politics myself. It is super awkward that your supervisor has moved university and you can't follow them. Have you got a new or second supervisor at your current uni that can help with the issues? As I know it is annoying when someone just doesn't like and blatantly spreads lies. Unfortunately you can't do much except except rise above it as you don'so that you look more credible. As unless you have any proof it is a he said-she said situation and it looks like the lab head likes him.

If you can't move, try and become as it independent as possible. Make it so that you don't have to interact with the awkward person and they have nothing to accuse you with. Maybe ask your supervisor if they can help with you get your own space away from them but inside the lab. It is rather common for several researchers in the same lab to not like each other but work in harmony by just avoiding each other.



Thanks rewt.

I have tried keeping 98% of correspondence with that person on email. And I can choose not to work with that person.

But that person actively complains about me and my work even when that person has no clue what I am doing. And even though the complaints are not true, and I have evidences that they are not true, I have had a verbal and written warning, and another second discussion about the same issues.

And these discussions take place when my supervisor is not there even when I strongly suggested that my supervisor is to be there, either Zoom or phone call. So my supervisor hears about these second hand. I will eventually run into more troubles right ?

Does anyone knows what I should do ?

Avatar for rewt

Have you told your supervisor explicitly about this and asked for his help? Malicious complaints is a serious issue and the university should take it seriously but your supervisor should be your first contact. Maybe your supervisor can talk with the lab head directly to explain your side of the story. Your supervisor should be helping you with this. You can also talk with your students union or check the student handbook about harassment.


I have asked and requested for my supervisor to be there. But can my supervisor do anything considering he is my lab head’s junior ?

What are the chances that if I ask the university if I can move over to my supervisor’s lab and yet my degree is from the current university and I continue to receive my scholarship from the current university? Is it a high chance ? I told my supervisor that I wanted to ask the university, and he said he will do it, but he hasn’t.

Or is it much better to continue to keep my head low, do my work to the best of my ability and just quietly graduate ? I don’t even know if I have enough thesis materials to graduate with a masters (I’m only about to reach my halfway mark in my PhD).

Avatar for rewt

The lab head will probably trust the words of your supervisor over a PhD student. Having your supervisor in disciplinary situation means that they agree with you and having someone's support is better than none.

Transferring universities is all about funding. If you are internally funded your supervisor's new university would have to fund your PhD themselves. I have seen people transfer like you where the new university offers to internally fund old PhD students. However it isn't guaranteed and if your supervisor is being non-committal - be blunt and ask for a straight answer. You might want to justify the transfer as how you can help him and what you can do at the new university. The sad thing is most supervisors are partially motivated by their own self interest. So if you can make him want you transfer, it might be more successful.


I haven't been on here for a long time. If OP is still here, I just want to say, hey, OP, you're not alone!
I've seen so many things like this. Many supervisors are biased. So are departmental heads. When things happen, their bias make them choose to take one side, and treat the other side like rubbish. And when you ask for clarifications, they will never give you any clarifications. When they're biased, they are biased. They wouldn't admit it. They never acknowledge they've done anything wrong. They have power over you and they could do anything they want. You just can't get any justice from them. If you resist, they will take it further and make more people go against you. They're just like that. That's the true face of academia. I've never seen a PhD student who successfully resists the evilness from the people who have power.
If you want to get the university involved, you could try, but don't expect too much. The involvement of the university will be time-consuming and take away lots of energy from you. Lower your expectation. Also, try and talk to the potential university and see if that university can help.


Thank you Sciencephd and Rewt!