Molecular & Cell Biology Graduate Program

Tharun Sundaresan, Ph.D.
Director of MCB Graduate Program
Phone: (301) 295-9324

Rachel Cox, Ph.D.
Director of MCB Recruitment & Admissions
Phone: (301) 295-9791

Frank Shewmaker, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of MCB Recruitment & Admissions
Phone: (301) 295-3527

Tina Finley
Administrative Officer, MCB Graduate Program
Phone (301) 295-3642
FAX (301) 295-1996


USU Courtyard

MCB: Dissertation Research

All students will complete a dissertation based on an original research project conducted under the supervision of the Thesis Advisor and Thesis Advisory Committee. Before embarking on a thesis project, the student must successfully present both in written form and orally, a dissertation proposal to the committee. Upon completion of the dissertation research, the student must successfully present and defend the dissertation in a public presentation of the research.

Thesis Advisory Committee

1. Role of the Thesis Advisory Committee

The Thesis Advisory Committee is ultimately responsible for the academic progress of the student and will report, through the Program Director, to the Graduate Education Committee. The Thesis Advisory Committee will act with the Thesis Advisor to:

a. Advise the student, through periodic and timely (at least once per year) meetings throughout the course of his/her dissertation research.

b. Review the dissertation proposal and examine the student on the content, feasibility, and his/her understanding of, the proposal prior to commencement of the dissertation research.

c. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, review the written dissertation, attend the public presentation of the dissertation research, and question the student in a closed examination to determine whether to recommend to the Molecular and Cell Biology Graduate Faculty that the degree of Doctor of Philosophy be awarded. A majority vote of the Committee will determine the acceptability of the dissertation and its defense. In the event that a student fails the dissertation defense or writes an unsatisfactory dissertation, the Dissertation Committee may recommend dismissal or recommend that the student rewrite the dissertation and/or participate in a second defense.

2. Selection of the Thesis Advisory Committee

The Thesis Advisory Committee will be recommended by the Program Director to the Associate Dean for Graduate Education after consultation with the Thesis Advisor and student. A Thesis Advisory committee should be chosen as early in the student's career as possible; a committee must be formed in order for the student to advance to candidacy. For MCB students, the Thesis Advisory Committee will consist of no fewer than five members. Four of these Committee members must have a doctoral degree, an academic rank of Assistant Professor or above, and an appointment in MCB program. The fifth member may hold a faculty appointment at USU or have an equivalent appointment outside of USU. However, he/she must not have a primary or secondary appointment of any kind in the MCB program. Additional members may be appointed if the student and the Thesis Advisor wish to incorporate additional expertise. However, the majority of the members of the student's Committee must have a full-time appointment at USU and must be members of the MCB program. An exception to this requirement may be granted at the discretion of the Associate Dean for Graduate Education upon submission of a written justification.

3. Thesis Defense

The written dissertation may take the form of a "traditional" thesis, or a synthesis of individual journal style manuscripts. The final form of the thesis must be distributed to the members of the Thesis Advisory Committee at least two weeks prior to the thesis defense. The defense is composed of a public seminar followed by a closed oral examination administered by the Thesis Advisory Committee.