Committee Reflections

A doctoral student in science education at Ohio State was going to defend his dissertation earlier in the week on the benefits of “teaching the controversy” about evolution. However, his defense was postponed when it was learned that the committee did not satisfy the requirements of his program and more importantly lacked anyone qualified to advise and judge his research. The committee did contain a pair of vocal anti-evolutionists, whose only qualifications appear to be political agreement with the student. The student will probably get a new committee, one that will not favor rubber stamping his research.

This has got me thinking about my own committee, which was recently reorganized because John Avise is moving to Irvine and was reorganized before that because my advisor died. I now have six faculty members on my committee, reflecting my eclectic research interests:

  1. A Drosophila evolutionary geneticist who has published pop-gen theory
  2. A pop-gen theoretician from the stat department
  3. A forest population geneticist
  4. A population ecologist who has published theory
  5. A conservation geneticist
  6. A parasite genomicist

My research covers things from classical pop-gen theory, to individual-based geographic models, to theoretical pop-eco, to molecular evolution and phylogenetics. At heart I am a computational population biologist. My committee is probably not sufficient to judge my dissertation as fully as can be done (none probably are), but that is why I am working to publish my research before I combine it into a dissertation. Peer review should help improve my dissertation.

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Posted by Mandi on June 11, 2005 3:20 PM

“At heart I am a computational population biologist.” Is that science-speak for nerd?? LOL I really think you can safely say this is an original quote…I would say that I will use it someday, but I don’t actually know what it means, so that would be futile!

Posted by G on June 15, 2005 6:43 PM

I’m in a completely different field, but I have the same sort of broad committee that, while still imperfect, is well-suited to giving me lots of good feedback. My committee members include a philosopher of biology, an ethicist/feminist, a philosopher of mind/psychology, a willfully eclectic philosopher of many sub-areas, and an evolutionary behavioral ecologist. And, in essence, all the reviewers at the journals I’ll be submitting papers to over the next six months or so…