I gave my “defence” seminar this Thursday. In our department, you give one seminar before your qualifying (“A”) exam, and one before your defence (“B exam”). Sometimes the exit seminar is quite separated from the actual date of your defence. Mine was May 1, but I’ll be handing in my dissertation on May 12 (9 days!), and defending May 23 (the day before Cornell’s graduation ceremonies).
I realized it was one of the first times I’d given a really “big picture” seminar, where I tell the whole arc of a story, rather than focusing in on a specific study and its methods in detail. I guess my MS seminar was similar in some ways, but this felt different, I think because all the experiments from my Ph.D. research are more directly connected, leading from one to the next, while my MS really had three very different takes on the C impact of biochar production (incubation, modelling, and policy). It was fun tying everything together, and trying to make a compelling story. I started with the issue of priming, and discussed my incubation study where I try to isolate and identify the mechanisms responsible, from there, expanded to the impact of plants with my greenhouse study, drilled down into how to partition three C sources using stable C isotopes in my field trial, and then checked out what was happening with the microbes. It was really fun, and I appreciated the great questions, ranging from methodology to statistical analyses to big-picture implications. Now, I just have to finish my dissertation and defend!!!
(Thanks to my sister-in-law Mireille for these photos!)