My Name is Ayesha

Ayesha worked for a PI who verbally harassed and mistreated her while she worked as a technician. She says that despite others in the department knowing about his behavior, little has been done to stop the abuse. Ayesha declined to provide a photo.

My Worst Moment: I decided to take time off from grad school to be a technician and got a job right away. I had to move to another city 3 hours away. After starting there, the new PI started getting very verbally and emotionally abusive. He would question me about the smallest details and accused me of scientific misconduct. He also would call at 11 pm and 1 am wondering why I did not fix my “mistakes”. He said in an email that I had a brain pathology, I was a “dumb f**k”, and after only 2 weeks threatened to complain to HR because I was not getting the results he expected. I wanted to organize the lab and he screamed at me for an hour and subsequently told another person in the lab to do it. He then became extremely micromanaging to the point where he wanted to know how long it took me to go to the bathroom and back. He would scream at me over the phone for not responding to his email within a literal 2 minutes. He expected me to work 60+ hours and only paid me for 40+.  I was there in that lab for three months. Everyone knows about his behavior in the department, but very little has been done.

I Have Given Up On: Meeting new people and faith in humanity. I have lost a lot of weight from not eating appropriately.  I have not wanted to go back to grad school, even though it was something I was planning on because I feel I was completely changed by the horrific experience.

I’m Afraid: Every time I see him in meetings and seminars.

This Has Cost Me: I felt like I made the wrong decision of leaving grad school and should’ve returned. I had to get a second and third job to help sustain myself and went into chronic debt by moving. I was not making enough to get health insurance and I have noticed my health severely decline and continue the vicious cycle of working 60+ hours a week and not enough money or time to fix my emotional health.

Something You Should Know: I have wanted to be scientist for ever and I loved how in science you get to think critically and the method of discovery was awesome. I have always been a good judge of character and my “radar sensors” failed me.

Is There a Bright Side: Moved to another lab and thriving. I am very slowly recovering emotionally, but still might not go back to graduate school.

My Fight Song: Anything by Good Charlotte [YouTube Link]

Secret Weapon: My professionalism