After joining a thesis lab, students are required to form a Thesis Committee. CMB students will have a total of five faculty on their thesis committee. One member will be the Thesis Advisor. Students will choose an additional three committee members by March 15 of their first year, with the input of their faculty advisor. By no later than March 15 of their second year, students should select the last (fifth) committee member themselves and get approval from their Thesis Advisor. This should allow time for students to select someone they feel comfortable enough to approach for input on a variety of topics as their fifth committee member. Students should meet with the fifth committee member once they are identified to introduce their research project and to review the discussion from their first committee meeting.
The Thesis Committee Approval form, available in the CMB Forms section of the CMB website, must be filled out and submitted to the CMB Office by March 15 of the student’s first year. Students should have four to five committee members when submitting this form. Failure to submit the form in a timely fashion will result in a hold being placed on the student’s registration. The same form can be used to add or change committee members. At any point, committee members can be changed.
Composition of the Thesis Committee
- The Thesis Committee consists of five faculty members, including the Thesis Advisor. Students are required to have four committee members by the spring of their first year and five members before the preliminary exam in their second year. The purpose of the later addition of the fifth committee member is to give students time to meet more faculty and to define their research project, thereby allowing them to identify a faculty member that best serves their advising needs.
- Three committee members, including the Thesis Advisor, must be faculty trainers in the CMB Program.
- Two committee members should be outside the student’s direct area of expertise.
- Students may change committee members at any time by submitting a Thesis Committee Approval form with the name of the new committee member and a note indicating who they are replacing. Revised Thesis Committee Approval forms only require signatures from the Thesis Advisor and the new committee member.
- The maximum number of Thesis Committee members is six. A sixth member can be added at any time.
- For more information, see the Graduate School Academic Policies and Procedures website.
- MD/PhD Students: MSTP requires students to have one MSTP Director serve on the Thesis Committee.
Formation of the Thesis Committee
- The student and Thesis Advisor should work together to determine members of the Thesis Committee.
- Fill out the Thesis Committee Approval form, available in the CMB Forms section of the CMB website.
- Obtain signatures of four of the five Thesis Committee members on the form and submit it to the CMB Office by March 15 of the student’s first year. Obtain the signature of the fifth committee member by March 15 of the student’s second year.
- If a member of the student’s Thesis Committee is changed, submit a revised Thesis Committee Approval form with the signature of the new member and the Thesis Advisor (other members do not need to sign the revised form).
- If a student changes Thesis Advisors, they must form a new Thesis Committee within three months of joining the new lab and turn in a new Thesis Committee Approval form to the CMB Office.
Effective Mentorship from Members of a Thesis Committee Involves:
- Critical evaluation of the student’s scientific progress and of the competencies that relate to scientific pursuit in general.
- Feedback to the Thesis Advisor and/or student regarding feasibility of research goals and plans, especially when the proposed plan is incompatible with timely completion of the thesis.
- Cross-checks on training in responsible conduct of research and experimental design as it relates to ethical consideration, rigor, and reproducibility.
- An active interest in the student’s professional development, using the student’s IDP as one point of discussion.
- Interactions that promote open dialog on science, skills, interests, and aspirations.
- A willingness to step in should problems in the dynamics between the student and Thesis Advisor and/or other elements of the research environment be recognized.
The list of responsibilities was modified from this document.