I am set to graduate with my PhD in early May. I have defended, written my dissertation, published a first author paper, and met all other official requirements to graduate. I have also secured a postdoc position that I am really excited about. I met with my PhD advisor to discuss the timing of my leaving my current lab.
My PI keeps adding experiments that take a long time (like a new mouse model KO) and is absolutely insistent that I stay on to finish these experiments. The ones he wants me to do would require about 6 months to a year of work after my graduation date to complete.
To put this in context, my advisor is a typical horror story. He makes me cry, never says anything remotely nice, curses and yells at me, constantly tells me that I can't do anything etc.. You know the type I'm sure. I have been in this lab now for 5 and 1/2 years.
Also, my PI never has a clear path for publication or completion of a project. It's always an unending endeavor until he is about to get scooped. For example, my first author paper was published in early 2016. No new data was added to this manuscript since 2014...
So, I really, really want to leave ASAP. I tried to discuss this with my advisor and very diplomatically suggested I could stay two months after my graduation to finish up some experiments. I also mentioned that in order for me to stay for the extra two months I would require a postdoc salary. He responded with "I guess I'll just give your project to someone else then." So, in summary he wants me to stay 6 months (at least-I'm sure this will be extended indefinitely) after I graduate and only be paid a graduate student stipend. I am very upset and insulted about his reaction. He has plenty of money, I guess I'm just not worth paying properly.
I don't think this paper will be published at least for a couple of years. I have plenty of data for a great paper, but like I said- my PI takes forever to publish. So, I think "staying until the paper is finished" would be a couple of years in reality. I will definitely leave before that- I cannot continue to exist in this environment.
At any rate, assuming the paper is finished by December (6-7 months after graduation), I really don't care at this point. I am going to a MUCH more productive lab, and I would rather throw all this work in the garbage than stay in this lab for one more day than absolutely necesary. I am aiming to obtain a K99 so time is of the essence to get going in my postdoc.
I could keep going, but I think you understand my situation.
So, a few questions that I am wrestling with:
1)Has anyone ever heard of someone graduating with PhD and staying in a lab for 2-6 months without getting paid postdoc salary? This seems crazy to me, but maybe I just don't know what is standard.
2)I am almost 100% certain that even if I stay for 2 months and get paid appropriately, leaving will still be a huge problem. I do not see a way out of this situation without completely burning bridges with my PI. My PI is in the same field I am planning to postdoc in, and he is politically very powerful. Is the fallout from the inevitable end going to seriously hurt my career? How can I avoid the political retribution?
3)I am SO conflicted as to whether I should be working very hard, or if I should just relax because really-what's the point of me doing anything else if my name will likely be stripped from the paper at some point?
Thanks for reading my post and any advice is appreciated!