Planetary Systems Branch Chief invited to University of Oxford as an External Examiner for the D.Phil. (PhD) degree

During the week of 29 October through 2 November 2012, Dr Jeffery Hollingsworth, Space Scientist & Chief, Planetary Systems Branch (Code SST), and Principal Investigator (PI) of the NASA ARC Mars Climate Modeling Project (MCMC), was invited to travel to the United Kingdom by the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division and the Head of the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics Department (AOPP), University of Oxford, to serve as the External Examiner in the D.Phil. (PhD) examination (or “viva”) of Mr David Mulholland, a candidate for degree. The examination took place on Friday, 2 November 2012 from 0930-1500 in the AOPP department, University of Oxford. Mr Mulholland’s dissertation entitled “Martian Dust Lifting: Transport and Associated Processes” (225 pp.) is a significant and substantial contribution in the field of planetary atmospheres and climate, in particular that of Mars. The work will most likely result in 2-3 papers that will be submitted to the scientific literature. In the UK higher education system, the final examination process is rather different than the US doctoral dissertation “defense” carried out by the candidate’s doctoral entire PhD committee (4-5 faculty, plus Graduate School Representative). In the British system, the process of a D.Phil. viva is to carry out a thorough, detailed and lengthy face-to-face examination of the candidate with one Internal Examiner from the candidate’s department (and not the thesis project advisor), and one External Examiner who is an expert in the field and often is invited from abroad. During the D.Phil. examination, the entire dissertation is scrutinized: chapter by chapter; section by section; and often page by page (including critical Figures and Tables), and can be conducted over a 3-6 hr period (with short breaks). The viva for Mr. Mulholland lasted greater than 5 hr. A final examination report (2 pp) is to be submitted by both examiners within two weeks following the viva, with statements confirming the recommendation on the outcome of the examination.