"[Lab B] is in dire financial straits. They're not bouncing checks yet, but there is scrimping and saving, and the occasional delay to get [standard lab supplies]. [Lack of funds for stipends] has brought the lab to a standstill, [on occasion...]
[The PI's time/energy is entirely spent elsewhere. They gave their senior-most students an directive that they are to graduate ASAP] -- an interesting conundrum if these students don't have the funding to efficiently and swiftly carry out their research to meet that end-point. Newer students to the lab are blindsided by this as well, and aren't sure how much of their current research they'll get to keep if they're transplanted into a different lab.
...there is also a disconnect between what the students know, and what other professors know. Needless to say, this puts the grad students in a very awkward position when collaborators very clearly don't know about this move and the students do."This isn't the first time I've heard of this sort of thing. Classic examples include the sad cases where the PI passes away. In those cases, it seems to me that the department recognizes that There Is Business To Be Handled, and students are Taken Care Of. But in cases like those of Lab B, the PI has unfortunately put the students in the position of not knowing when it's okay to tell the department authorities (the chair, the director of graduate studies, what have you...) and trying to handle things Within The Family.
So, readers, questions for you:
- First, has this happened to you? If so, what happened? What worked well? What did not?
- What are the obligations of the department to these students? Who, within the department, gets to know the bloody details and make sure that the students progress towards graduation?
- What are the obligations of group members towards each other?
- For those who have been in similar situations, how much time can you expect to add?
- What are the warning signs that this might happen in your laboratory?