After students complete their Preliminary Qualifying Examination (PQE), they form a Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) in consultation with their thesis advisor. The DAC typically comprises the same faculty who served on the PQE Committee, but substitutions may be made in consultation with the program director. Thesis advisors are not members of the DAC but are expected to attend DAC meetings. At least one of the DAC members must be affiliated with PiN. DAC members advise on project scope and timeline, elective courses, career development, mentorship, and any issues that may arise, guiding students toward successful and timely completion of their PhD.
Guidelines for PiN Students
Role of the DAC
DAC members advise on project scope and timeline, course selection, career development, mentorship, and any other issues that may arise and are responsible to the University to ensure that students meet all program requirements. A major role of the DAC is to assist dissertation advisors and students in deciding when to close off further experimentation and to begin writing. If there are major concerns about a student, the DAC can suggest a review with the program director in which they will meet with the student and their thesis advisor to discuss the issues raised and the best plan of action.
DAC meetings typically last two hours. The general format is that the DAC meets with the student first while the PI steps out, then meets with the PI while the student steps out; then the student gives a presentation on their project to date. The DAC meeting is NOT an examination. It serves several purposes: (a) to give students and PIs feedback on research projects; (b) to address any mentorship challenges between students and PIs; (c) to make sure students are making timely progress toward graduation; (d) to advise on elective courses and professional development.
Students are required to schedule DAC meetings no less frequently than every 9 months through the end of their G5 year and every 6 months thereafter. Students should start scheduling at least 6 weeks in advance and are required to share a research progress summary with their committee (and the PiN administrator) at least 48 hours prior to their meeting, typically comprising a two-page summary of scientific background, questions, progress, problems/issues, and future aims. The DAC chair is responsible for sending a DAC report to the program office following the meeting. These two documents become part of the student’s record with DMS.