Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Did She or Didn't She?

In my post yesterday, I wrote about serving on a doctoral dissertation committee for a student in New Zealand and yesterday was her dissertation defense. It was an interesting experience doing the oral defense and examination via videoconference (but this certainly reduced the carbon footprint).

The student, her dissertation advisor, and the other committee members I could see on the screen in the room set up for videoconferencing at the Isenberg School of Management. They were all seated in a room at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Given the time difference, we scheduled the dissertation oral defense at 3PM Eastern Standard time and her advisor, Professor Matthias Ehrgott, was caught in traffic so he was a bit late.

The technology worked, although it did seem to be getting a bit tired after the majority of the questions were asked and answered.

The student successfully passed the defense, so congratulations to Ms. Andrea Raith, a new female PhD! Her dissertation is entitled: Multiobjective Routing and Transportation Problems. I especially enjoyed her novel applications to bicycling and route choice optimization using travel time and travel safety as criteria as well as her work on the bi-objective traffic assignment problem. In addition, she identified several errors in the published literature (which the referees had not caught) and also managed to correct several of the errors. As I said during the defense yesterday, I had not refereed those papers.