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Posted on 30 Sep '21

My Supervisor’s an Alien

I’ve just entered the third year of my PhD, and throughout my studies I’ve had suspicions that my supervisor wasn’t born on this planet. He’s very good at hiding it though, only letting the mask slip now and then. But sometimes I worry that it’s not just my supervisor and that aliens have infiltrated academia. Disguising themselves like regular humans, their Martian dress only comes out on graduation days. The more disgusting the colour combination, the better.

I’m not sure what they’re up to, but it seems they may have replaced some of the world’s academics. If you also suspect your supervisor might be an alien, here are a few things to look out for.

They don’t need sleep

If you’re a PhD student, it’s likely you’ve had an email from your supervisor outside of office hours. Anything before 10pm is not necessarily a sign they’re an alien visitor. Nor is from 6am onwards. We don’t want to confuse the real aliens with those people that go running at dawn. No, the alien will email you at 3am. The witching hour. They might be asking for a meeting, giving you some feedback or, worse yet, sending you some reading material. That’s a clear sign their body clock is out of sync with the orbit of their home planet.

They have weird and unusual things in their office

Rarely are the alien artefacts out on obvious display, but next time you’re in their office take a closer look. I’ve heard tales of physicists with stacks of obscure instruction manuals on top of their bookshelves from the last three decades. Only an alien would find use in these as they attempt to understand human life.

Extra-terrestrials in the English department are particularly good at hiding in plain sight. A skull may be perched in front of their extensive Shakespeare collection as a seemingly innocent nod to Hamlet. But the gleaming array of space-age contraptions, supposedly for brewing coffee, certainly look suspicious. Don’t be fooled when they say it’s just a rare Aeropress prototype.

They act strange out of their natural habitat

Have you ever bumped into your supervisor outside of campus? If they said hello, starting up a brief but polite conversation then they’re probably not a Martian in disguise. But if they duck behind the plants or flick up their vampire coat collar and leg it then they’re definitely one of them.

Aliens don’t like being caught outside of their offices. It’s harder to hide their lack of understanding of regular human life. Which brings me onto the next warning sign…

Everyday tasks can be a struggle

As an academic, you’d expect your supervisor to be smart, worldly and to have a good grip on basic living. But some of them don’t. Some aliens are better at adapting to our planet than others. You may only catch them struggling to work a projector, or to unlock a door. But some struggle more than others. These are the ones that can’t work the kitchen’s microwave or somehow manage to attach a picture of their garden onto a PDF draft of your thesis (true story!).

What’s worse is that you may find yourself doing the same things. Forgetting words that were on the tip of your tongue, or what you wanted when entering a room. These are all symptoms of alien over-exposure. The best remedy is to avoid all potential aliens for a few days and hope the effect wears off.

They have a strange obsession

The final sure sign is a strange obsession. Not every ET will display this behaviour and sometimes it can be hard to distinguish from the usual academic eccentricities.

But I’m not talking about the history lecturer blasting Anglo-Saxon flute tunes from their office. I’m talking about the unusual and excessive use of bland human items. Ever seen an academic wear three belts at once with an additional one around their wrist? I have. Having come from a place where belts don’t exist, these fashion pieces seem like a novelty. If you’ve seen any obsessive lanyard collectors or unusual dressers they might be aliens basking in the novelty of new fashion.

So keep your eyes peeled! These extra-terrestrial invaders can be tricky to spot but if you see one, it's probably best to keep your distance.




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