Episode 67: Tales of the PhD, Halloween Edition

PhD halloween


The 67th episode of The Struggling Scientist podcast took a dark turn with a Halloween special dedicated to the scary and horrifying experiences faced by PhD students. Hosted by Suzanne and Jayron, the episode delves deep into the spine-chilling world of academia, sharing real-life stories submitted by their listeners. Through humor and wit, the hosts provide a deep dive into the scary side of pursuing a PhD.

Unexpected Disasters

The episode presents a series of shocking and unexpected disasters that have befallen PhD students, including a hard drive containing six months’ worth of work being destroyed when a supervisor tripped over a wire, and a student accidentally deleting their entire thesis draft. These tales serve as cautionary reminders of the fragility of academic work and the importance of backups and meticulous attention to detail when pursuing a PhD.

Toxic Competition

The podcast also explores the toxic environment of a highly competitive lab, where ruthless competition among colleagues led to unethical behavior, including sabotage and secrecy. The “Lab Hunger Games” story shared in the episode sheds light on the detrimental consequences of intense rivalry within a research setting, emphasizing the need for fostering a supportive and collaborative scientific community.

Academic Roadblocks

Listeners are also exposed to the bureaucratic horrors faced by one individual, who details an administrative nightmare that culminated in the devastating betrayal of missing an important examination due to the absence of an external reader. These experiences underscore the challenges posed by bureaucratic hurdles within academic institutions and the detrimental impact they can have on a student’s progress.

Supervisory Support

The podcast delves into the impact of supervisory relationships on the PhD journey, revealing the distress caused by a supervisor disparaging a student’s potential just days before their thesis submission deadline, showcasing the tension and strain that can result from supervisory interactions. This story serves as a reminder of the potential emotional toll that supervisory dynamics can impose on students.

Risks Within Research Environments

Further, the episode uncovers the sinister discovery of a massive fungal infestation within a research facility, highlighting the lurking hazards within the scientific environment. The narrative underscores the unseen threats that can jeopardize research integrity and the critical need for maintaining safe and hygienic laboratory conditions in order to safeguard both experiments and researchers.


The Halloween special of The Struggling Scientist podcast offers a chilling glimpse into the haunting experiences of PhD students, highlighting the often overlooked trials and tribulations faced in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Through the shared stories, listeners are reminded of the significance of resilience, preparedness, and the importance of a supportive academic community in overcoming the terrifying challenges that may emerge during the PhD journey. With humor and empathy, Suzanne and Jayron ensure that these spine-tingling stories do not overshadow the determination, passion, and strength of those navigating the demanding world of academia. 

Ultimately, this Halloween episode serves as a captivating and thought-provoking exploration of the dark side of academic pursuit, shedding light on the struggles, fears, and unexpected horrors experienced by those dedicated to advancing scientific knowledge.

If you enjoyed this then consider checking out our episode on Burnoutperfectionism, or imposter syndrome as well. 

Until next time !

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