Students are expected to carry out their thesis work under the supervision of a faculty member in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Graduate Group. After passing the Candidacy Exam, students must form a Working Thesis Committee and schedule a Committee meeting by the end of the second year. Exceptions to these rules must be approved by the Graduate Group Chair.
A. Composition of Thesis Committee
The Working Thesis Committee will be comprised of four faculty. The Chair and two members must be from the BMB Graduate Group. Two additional faculty, one internal and one external, are required for the Final Thesis Committee; four of these six members must be from the BMB Graduate Group. The external examiner will be brought in as an additional examiner for the final thesis defense and will have expertise in the area of the thesis work. This person should be from an outside peer institution at the rank of assistant professor or higher or under some circumstances, someone from industry and not a member of the BMB Graduate Group. The thesis committees should be constituted so as to include breadth as well as expertise in the particular research area of thesis work. The student and his or her advisor shall jointly select the members of the thesis committees. The student should submit in writing a list of potential committee members, indicating which faculty will serve as committee chair, to his or her Thesis Advisor and the Graduate Group Chair. The Graduate Group Chair will respond in writing to approve the composition of the committee, or make recommendations for other candidates. The Graduate Group Chair will adjudicate any disagreement on the composition of the thesis committee. The Thesis Advisor may not serve on the committee or vote on the thesis defense. He or she may attend committee meetings and the thesis defense, but may not participate in the deliberations of the committee. The student must register the composition of his or her thesis committee with the Graduate Group Office after approval by the Graduate Group Chair by submitting a completed Working Thesis Committee Approval form.
B. Evaluation of Student's Progress
The Working Thesis Committee must meet every six months to monitor the student's progress. A written summary will be prepared after each meeting by the Thesis Committee Chair and maintained in the student's academic file (Thesis Committee Meeting Report). Upon written approval of the Thesis Committee Chair , the 6 month requirement may be waived, and yearly meetings held instead. If the committee and/or the Thesis Advisor are not satisfied with the student's productivity, a written report will be prepared by the committee outlining a proposed course of action. A copy of the report will be forwarded to the Graduate Group Chair, the student and the Thesis Advisor. The student will have the opportunity to reply to the written report. Within 6 months an additional meeting of the thesis committee will take place to determine the progress. In the event that the student does not make sufficient progress, he or she will be placed on academic probation. If progress is not apparent by the next committee meeting, the student will be asked to petition for a terminal Master's degree.
See the “BMB Graduation Checklist” for detailed information.
C. Preparation of Dissertation
The thesis committee will give written approval for the student to begin to write the dissertation (Permission to Write and Defend Thesis form), but this does not automatically mean that experimental work is completed. The student should be prepared to continue experiments while writing and to rewrite or do additional experiments after the thesis defense if deemed necessary by the committee. If the student has not already done so, at this point he or she should, in conjunction with the Thesis Advisor, select the remaining two members of the committee to form the full examination committee. A draft of the dissertation must be submitted at least two weeks in advance of the defense to minimize the possibility of unexpected problems. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GAS) requires a dissertation to represent a definite contribution to scientific knowledge and to show that a student possesses "power of independent research." The Graduate Group feels that the dissertation should contain experimental information that answers a stated question and should display a logical progression of scientific thought. The main information contained in the dissertation should be of a caliber sufficient for publication in a reputable refereed scientific journal.
D. Thesis Seminar and Defense
The thesis seminar will take the form of a public lecture. The defense of the thesis following the presentation is open only to the Thesis Committee and the Thesis Advisor. The decision on approval of the thesis will be made solely by a consensus of the Thesis Committee in the absence of the student and the Thesis Advisor. Students must inform the Graduate Group Office at least two weeks in advance of the defense date, and supply the title of the thesis and place and time of the defense. The Graduate Group Office will announce the thesis defense to the University community. The Graduate Group Office is responsible for completing the forms indicating that the thesis has been successfully defended. Before a student makes the appointment to deposit the thesis, he or she must provide the Graduate Group Office with a copy of the abstract page, a signed copy of the title page, and the postdoctoral appointment information.
The Graduate Division of Arts and Sciences oversees the review of all non-professional doctoral dissertations for the University. There are three graduation dates each year - May, August, and December- but a formal commencement ceremony is held only in May.