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Plant Biology Ph.D. Dissertation

Dissertation Committee

The Dissertation Committee will advise the student of courses and requirements, conduct the comprehensive exam, approve the dissertation research proposal, and conduct the Ph.D. exam for approval of the dissertation.

The committee will be chaired by the student’s adviser and must have at least four tenure-track faculty, at least two (2) from Plant Biology and a Graduate Faculty Representative of the College of Arts & Sciences.

  • The Graduate Faculty Representative cannot be a faculty member in the Department of Environmental & Plant Biology and must be approved by the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.
  • Names must be submitted to the Graduate Chair for Approval (Dissertation Committee and Faculty Representative Information CAS#5 [PDF]) and submission to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal must describe a comprehensive, multi-study research project.

The student must meet with her or his dissertation committee no later than the end of the fourth academic semester to discuss the proposal.

  • This meeting should, but does not necessarily need to be, a formal meeting for proposal approval.
  • The purpose of this meeting is to determine research direction and progress and to offer constructive criticism and suggestions on proposal improvement.

The dissertation committee must unanimously approve the research proposal by signing the PBIO Proposal Defense Form. The form should be presented to the Graduate Chair along with a hard copy of the proposal.

If the research project changes substantively (i.e., hypothesis or experimental design), the student must submit an updated proposal and seek approval of the committee.

An approved proposal will make the student eligible to take the comprehensive exam.

Ph.D. Dissertation

The student should meet once a semester with each committee member for informal progress reports.

  • The committee must have the option to review a chapter prior to submission for publication. Review turnaround time is four (4) weeks.

The dissertation must use the format provided by the Thesis and Dissertation Services (TAD) by using the template provided by TAD.

The Ph.D. Dissertation must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks (i.e. 14 days) before the examination date. The committee must approve the examination date.

The dissertation will be orally defended in a formal, public presentation (e.g. PBIO colloquium). After the public presentation, the committee will conduct a closed-door defense to thoroughly evaluate the quality of the research. At this time, the committee will provide constructive comments to improve unsatisfactory sections.

  • For Plant Biology Ph.D. students, this public presentation defense can be the student’s forth PBIO 6970.
  • The student should obtain copies of the Graduate Seminar/Final Seminar Critique Form from the departmental website and distribute them to his or her committee.

The oral defense must be approved unanimously, as evidenced by presenting a committee signed CAS#8 Report on the Oral Dissertation Examination Defense [PDF] to the Graduate Chair.

  • If a student receives only two passes, the committee, adviser and student should work together in an attempt to satisfy the dissenting opinion via revision or additional work.
  • If a student receives less than two passes, a report of the thesis examination (indicating that the student has failed) will be submitted and the student will be dismissed from the graduate program.

A PDF of the finalized thesis will be submitted to TAD, along with CAS#8