course
Independent research

May 2009

Professor Pollack is a nightmare. Why did they make him the overseer for this course? I really wish they hadn't done such a thing. He is extremely difficult to talk to and hopelessly rude via email. I have tried to contact him and his replies are stern, one-worded and often completely unhelpful. If you try and talk to him about a situation in lab, he retorts back. I realize that he may be an effective teacher for other classes but in my opinion he is old fashioned and extremely unhelpful. As the Columbia connection for this course, he is only succeeding in making it extremely stressful for students to the point where they don't feel like even talking to him about any problem they may have, just because they expect a cold retort. If he doesn't have the time or the concern to handle this class then I would hope he quit this position now rather than waste students' time and injure their interest in research. If you are planning to take Independent research do yourself a favor and chose a fabulous PI so you never have to go through the nightmare of the Pollack. One more thing- don't mix up his name with that of a fish or he'll probably bite your head off. So all in all, he has succeeded in making this class which is generally one of the most interesting in Columbia, one of the most painful. I do not recommend this class because he is hard to get by and while people who have had a good mentor may have found him alright, he really does nothing when you have a bad mentor. For me that is the strength of a true overseer of W3500 and Pollack has failed immensely.

May 2009

Mentor for W3500 @ Columbia: I was introduced to Dr. Toran-Allerand's lab via internet and the W3500 site, but surely that was the first of my mistakes. Dr. Dominique Toran-Allerand is by far the worst professor I have ever been in contact with at Columbia University and it is a disgrace that she is allowed to continue let alone be publicized to helpless, unassuming students. I truly wanted to have a research experience but instead I learned a lot about life and a lot about reality in the research field- sometimes its not about the research. its about the PI. I have never met a woman so insensitive and blatantly rude to her students. Her favorite work is "categorically wrong" which she will throw at you while you try and reason with her. We worked on a project with mice and she basically blamed the students for incorrect results thought it was largely the post-doc's fault for choosing the wrong type of mice. It should be mentioned that she is hopelessly rude and inept and grades based on results, not performance. Trust me, it should tell you something that 1) she has no kids 2) she swears and shouts when she is speaking to people 3) she once screamed at her lab for throwing her a birthday party and 4) she only has one person who works for her- a harrowed post-doc who can't leave because he needs to pay for his kids and his wife. Do not chose her as a mentor and stay far far away from her. She will try and reel you in with promises of being devoted to students and having experience with teaching but this is a farce- she basically has no money from non-existent grants and she needs students to do all her "dirty work" i.e. behavioral tests on mice. Did I mention she is a hypocrite if I ever saw one? Budding Ph.D's be warned. You will learn nothing but misery from her.