Annual Committee Meetings

The Major Professor will preside at the annual meetings and will be primarily responsible for the format of these meetings and for filing the notes and comments from the committee members to the Graduate Office.  The Major Professor should establish, in advance, guidelines for the length and nature of the student’s presentations, the length and scope of the question and answer periods.  Hence, prior to each meeting the student should discuss the format for that meeting with the Major Professor. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule the annual meeting.

Annual committee meetings, preliminary exams and thesis defenses should not be scheduled during the summer if at all possible with the exception of August graduations.

To do list:

  • The student should identify a time that works for everyone on the committee. It is highly recommended that the student attempt to schedule the meeting 2-3 months before they intend to have it. Common practice for doing so entails the following steps:
    1. Email the committee with and ask if anyone has any full weeks or major commitments in their schedule during the month the student would like to hold the meeting.
    2. Once this is determined, send a digital request to the committee for availability of a two-week stretch, at most. The most favorable way to do this is to use WhenIsGood (preferred) or doodle
    3. Once the date is determined, the student should reserve a room using the room reservation system that can be found on the Departmental Website under Resources.
  • No less than two weeks before each of the annual committee meetings, the student must submit a written progress report to their advisory committee. The report should focus on the accomplishments and outline future goals. At the committee meeting, the student must make an oral presentation.  This presentation should include a discussion of relevant publishable data, interpretation of the data, and research plans for the next year. Some general consideration of the document are included below:
    1. A brief (one paragraph synopsis of overall study and goals)
    2. Data in form of graphs and tables of major findings of previous year.
    3. Enough text to explain figures and tables.
    4. Expanded coverage of any experiments, experimental designs, hypotheses to be tested, types of data to be collected, rationale etc. for the next year’s research if not already covered in preliminary proposal; that is, if there is a change in research direction; if material is already in preliminary proposal, then a brief synopsis with a reference to pages in prelim proposal will be sufficient.
    5. Information on research-related activities (e.g., grants applied for or obtained, papers submitted, soon to be submitted, or published, presentations given, honors and awards received).
    6. A time line for major sections of the research project that can show, at a glance, where the student is in terms of fulfilling research goals.
    7. A timetable for the next year
  • For the meeting, the student should prepare a presentation not to exceed 20 minutes, complete with figures etc., which devotes equal time to i) what was accomplished since last meeting and ii) what research is planned for the next year (e.g., experimental designs, predictions, etc.). 
  • By means of a question and answer period, the advisory committee will evaluate the student’s progress both in research and in strengthening any weakness in the student’s background, if such was indicated by a previous examination or by the progress report.  Two forms are required:

Each committee member will complete an individual report of the students overall progress, including strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations.

The Major Professor will also complete a summary report providing feedback on 5 learning outcomes as well as the resulting vote from the committee (Pass or Fail). All forms should be returned to the Graduate Office as soon as possible. 

Failure to achieve a passing performance at two successive meetings will be considered as grounds for recommending that a student should leave the PhD program.