The dissertation is the culmination of the Ph.D program and presents the results of individual, original research conducted in the department. The progression to the dissertation starts with the choice of mentor and research project. Students are assisted in this by the laboratory rotations in the first year. The intent of these rotations is to introduce students to the research approaches, techniques and philosophy of the faculty. In addition, faculty give research seminars to the department. Students are also encouraged to seek advice from the Graduate Committee.
After students have chosen a mentor and project, they begin research in the laboratory. Their next goal is to devise and write a dissertation proposal. This document establishes the basic goals of the project, and the technical procedures to reach that goal. Students demonstrate their knowledge of the research background and literature which establishes its feasibility.
Students gives their proposal to the Supervisory/Dissertation Committee and make an oral presentation. The committee then evaluates both the content and the potential of the proposal and may propose revisions. The duties of the Dissertation Committee are to guide and assist students toward their final dissertation. The expertise of the members is placed at the student's disposal. Regular meetings of the committee are encouraged to assure adequate progress and to provide students with maximum assistance. The committee and the student together determine when the body of research work is adequate for the dissertation.
The dissertation is the official account of the student's research and is therefore to be written by the student. It may be supplemented by research papers in scientific journals. When the dissertation is finished, it is given to the committee and the student defends his/her thesis in a public oral presentation followed by a closed-door oral examination of the student.