A year ago today I gave the public defense of my PhD dissertation! It was a stressful day, especially because my laptop crashed just 10 minutes beforehand while I was practicing and making last minute adjustments! Luckily, I had prepared by bringing the presentation on a flash drive, and by putting it on an online cloud drive as well. My parents brought enough potato salad, cookies, cake, and Italian meatballs to feed the dozens of attendees and then some. I really appreciated the friends and family that showed up to support me, some had even driven to Burlington, VT from Massachusetts just for me! You can watch my full defense presentation on YouTube.
After a long hour of presenting my work and answering questions from the crowd, my graduate committee and I left for the closed-door portion. For the next two and a half grueling hours, 5 field-leading researchers asked me questions about everything I had done, and what I might have done differently. Finally, they asked me to step into the hallway while they made their final deliberations, where I nervously ate cookies as fast as I could because I hadn’t eaten in hours. They came back out 5 minutes later smiling, and announced that I had passed! You can read my full thesis here.