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The written dissertation and oral defense serve as the culmination of a student’s research efforts and program experience. Written dissertations adhere to the following format:

  • Abstract – a succinct description of a student's work, usually limited to 350 words.
  • Introduction – a comprehensive review of the relevant literature, which provides background and precedence for the research.
  • Design, Methods and Results – a detailed description of experimental procedures undertaken during the investigation.
  • Discussion – a review of the experimental difficulties, significance of the results, and alternative approaches that could achieve the desired results when experiments failed. This section also includes future directions.

Once students submit their written dissertation, they are required to present (and "defend") their thesis research to their thesis committee, other TSRI researchers, and fellow graduate students. Students may invite family members to their defense, although the second half of the defense is a closed-door session, open only to the student and his/her committee.


To learn more about any of the defenses listed below, click on a student’s name or photo. Defenses are open to the public, however, reservations are required and can be made by contacting the Office of Graduate Studies