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The Zoom PhD Defense

As stay-at-home orders become more widespread and longer lasting, graduate students on the cusp of finishing their degrees may be facing a different sort of PhD defense — one that takes place online.

At Nature Careers, Alyssa Frederick, who is now a postdoc at the Bodega Marine Laboratory, gives advice for those who have to give such remote defense. She had to do so after she moved from the University of California, Irvine, to the UC-Davis' Bodega Marine Laboratory in another part of the state.

There are, she writes, some key considerations, a main one being to ensure that a remote dissertation defense fulfills your institute's requirements and whether electronic signatures are acceptable. Additionally, Frederick says to practice giving your talk to people remotely — perhaps by roping in your labmates to watch and give feedback — and to format your slides for this type of talk.

When it's all done, she says to not forget to celebrate, whether it's with your fellow home-bound family or roommates or via video chat with your lab or friends.