Bartholomew Ondigo, Ph.D.
Dr. Bartholomew Ondigo has been mentored through his immunology Ph.D. program at Maseno University in Kenya by Dr. Chandy John (U of M) and Dr. Ayub Ofulla (Maseno University).
Dr. Ondigo has been supported through Dr. John's D43 training grant and was also a 2012-13 Fogarty Global Health Fellow. He is now working as a researcher on Dr. John's malaria research studies in Kisumu, Kenya. We congratulate him on his hard work and fine scientific achievements.
The following piece, "Reflections On My Ph.D. Defense Day" was written by Dr. Ondigo:
"Its over. The time of the dreaded PhD thesis defense has passed." These are the words that passed through my mind after I had just defended.
On 8 August 2013, I had to summarize my four-year research studies to a panel of 12 - 15 faculty members. This panel would determine whether I got the Ph.D. or not (failed).
After 40 minutes of PowerPoint presentation and 3 hours of questioning by the faculty (making a total of 220 minutes), I achieved my goal.
I was tense, though I had prepared as advised by my supervisors. My thesis was entitled "Validation of a cytometric multiplex assay and examination of antibody responses to Plasmodium falciparum antigens in the highlands of western Kenya during a period of low malaria transmission".
All of my supervisors had insisted that for me to pass the defense, I had to read and master the contents of my thesis adequately ("inside out"). I had to prepare myself not to be over-confident and, at the same time, not to show the examiners that I don't "own" the thesis. I was a little bit optimistic that all would go well in the defense since we Ph.D. students all review each other's academic work.
I gathered the following pointers when preparing to thesis defense, which I am happy to share with fellow students:
- Take time to respond to questions asked by faculty members.
- As a student often before responding to the question start with the phrase, " Good question."
- Before the D-day of thesis defense, plan for a mock presentation among your fellow colleagues in the laboratory.
- On the D-day, defend your work and interpretation - you are the expert.
I am happy to say that the four years spent in the laboratory performing experiments will shape my future global health research endeavors.