Wednesday, May 22, 2024
University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Hawaii System
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources


For both proposal and defense seminars, you may assume that people in the audience have at least a BS degree and some background in biological sciences. That does not mean that everyone will be able to understand everything you present. There can be some high-level experiments that can be understood only by people trained in your research area. However, you should make the best efforts to make at least half of your presentation understandable to most people in the MBBE audience. It does not matter whether you are working on bioinformatics, cancer research, bioengineering, plant molecular biology or any other branches of molecular biosciences or bioengineering, you have to make at least 50% of your presentation understandable to most people in the audience. The following are the guidelines for preparing a defense seminar.

  1. Discuss with your supervisor. He/she will help you to make difficult things easy.
  2. As you progress in your research, try to make as many presentations as possible, keeping in mind that you are preparing for your final presentation.
  3. Explain to your friends, parents, colleagues and others, whenever possible, what your work is about.
  4. Do not show too many slides in your final presentation. If you have too many results, you do not have to present all. Present only the most important and most relevant results. Again, discuss with your supervisor about it.
  5. Make a powerpoint presentation in front of your supervisor and your lab colleagues at least 10 days prior to your final presentation. Ask them for criticism and try to improve. If necessary, make another presentation before your supervisor 3-4 days prior to your final presentation.
  6. Title slide and a summary preview: After reading the title, give a well-prepared speech for about 3-5 min describing in simple language what your research is about. Some points that can be addressed here are: how this research started, the most important findings (without details), benefits of these findings, and most importantly how you gained insight, experience, and expertise in research. You have to express your excitements for your work. This is like giving a preview of your presentation in simple words. This will make the audience interested in your presentation. This will also serve as a warm-up for your data presentation.
  7. The problem. Describe the problem that your research addressed in one or more slides.
  8. Justifications for your work: Why did you invest 3-5 years of your life for addressing the above problem ? Why are these time and money investments justified ? (at least one slide).
  9. What was already known when you started? You may show a number of slides to present a brief review of literature. Discuss with your supervisor about specifics. This must be short. The review of literature must not be dull, it must be connected well with the problem.
  10. Overall goal of your research (one slide): State how you addressed the problem.
  11. Specific objectives: Dissect the overall goal into specific doable objectives (one slide).
  12. Objective 1. State the objective 1 and the associated hypothesis (one slide). At this stage do not rush. In about one min, try to give a simplified preview of the methods and experiments you conducted in this objective. You should have a well-prepared 1 min speech here. This will help to maintain attention of the audience on your work.
  13. Experiments in objective 1. Using a number of slides, describe the experiments and results for objective 1. You may show short flowcharts to describe methods. Whenever you present some results with tables or graphs, give enough interpretations. Always try to connect results with the problem.
  14. Objectives 2 and 3. Present in the same way as for objective 1. Do not forget to give a 1 min simplified preview of experiments for each objective before going into details.
  15. At the end, remind the audience about the problem you wanted address and how your results addressed some questions. Here again you need to face the audience and stop depending on your slides. Tell briefly (in about 1 min) the highlights of your work.    

Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering
1955 East West Rd.
Agricultural Sciences 218
Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: (808) 956-8384
Fax: (808) 956-3542

Department Chair
Dr. Dulal Borthakur

Graduate Chairs
Dr. Pratibha Nerurkar
Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering

Graduate Program Info
Proposal Seminar
Defense Seminar
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