>So, what should you do when you think that a colleague is taking advantage of a graduate student?
First, some background. I moved across town to start my own lab. This has several practical consequences. First, and most awesome, I can move my experiments from one place to another with minimal interruption. But what I want to focus on today is that I already know most of the faculty that are my colleagues. Generally, this is good. I had a super postdoc and I get along with almost everyone in the community. But there are also bound to be kind of awkward times, as these folks have to accept me into the secret faculty club and realize that I know the handshake, too.
This brings me to the current situation. I was talking to a graduate student the other day. It was a hallway interaction, she had not searched me out for advice. I have known this grad student for several years, and she is one of the superstars in a highly-ranked graduate program. By every metric, she should be graduating. Now. Turns out, her advisor has been suggesting that she stick around for another year or two. In return, she can "take what she works on with her". WTF? That doesn't make sense. Where exactly is she taking this "new project"? To her postdoc in some other lab? We are in one of the biomedical fields where a postdoc is required to stay on the academic track, which is what she wants to do.
As I pressed further, Pre-doc superstar told me that she is the only person in the lab that knows how to work the Magical Data Machine. She is also, bar far, the most productive person in Dr. Advisor's lab. If she sticks around for longer, she will probably publish one or two more papers. But she will have a LONG graduate career. I think that Dr. Advisor is thinking more about his own lab than the career of Pre-Doc Superstar.
I told this student that I thought she should move on to learn something new. That I felt staying in the Grad Lab was not the best move for her, career-wise. I told her that it was not her job to worry about Dr. Advisor's lab, but that he should be more concerned about her career development. I also told her to ask other faculty in the program for advice. I generally get along with Dr. Advisor, though we have had our moments. Hopefully this won't come back to bite me in the ass.