“The online PhD defense was remarkable and completely unique”. Skoltech is holding PhD defenses virtually

Skoltech was among the first Russian universities to hold online PhD defenses in pursuance of the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation on enforcing the distance mode to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the Decree, the dissertation council members and official opponents may not physically attend the defense provided that they can communicate with other attendees via audiovisual means. The dissertation council members attending the meeting in remote mode must not exceed 2/3 of the total number of participants.

The first thesis submitted for online defense was “Hybrid heterojunction solar cells using single-walled carbon nanotubes and amorphous silicon thin films” by Pramod Mulbagal Rajanna studying under the Skoltech Physics PhD Program.


Pramod Mulbagal Rajanna “The online PhD defense was remarkable and completely unique in its own way. The organization of infrastructure needed for smooth functioning of the online PhD defense was very nicely executed. The participation and presence of the audience in quantity and diversity was very appealing and impressive throughout, thanks to technology. As a speaker, it was very difficult to focus on the delivery as the audience was missing physically and there was not an eye contact. Although technology usage made the procedures for the PhD defense very simple, physical interaction is more appealing, useful, and memorable during such events which occur once in a lifetime for the candidate. And it is a pity that I missed the celebrations after the jury decision and award”

Pramod defended his thesis before the Joint PhD Defense Jury of Skoltech and Aalto University (Finland). The co-supervisors for Pramod’s PhD thesis research were Albert Nasibulin, a professor at Skoltech, and Peter Lund, a professor at Aalto University.

The Jury was duly appointed in accordance with the rules of the University of Aalto and Skoltech and consisted of five professors. The Chairperson, a Jury member and a co-supervisor were physically present at the Skoltech Campus, while other professors participated via video conferencing. The defense lasted over 3 hours and was concluded with a decision to award the Skoltech PhD degree and the Aalto University Doctor of Science degree to the candidate.

Dmitry Artamonov, Head of PhD studies: “It is relatively recently that Skoltech has launched its co-supervision programs for PhD students. Right now we have over 10 agreements with renowned universities in France, Finland, Israel, Australia (Curtin University) and Belgium (KU Leuven). Last year, we held our first joint defenses with the University of Sorbonne, Aalto University and the University of Paris. Despite this year’s extraordinary circumstances, we continue to successfully develop our programs with our colleagues from Aalto University. We are very pleased that the first online defense in Skoltech was also a joint defense. I am happy to join in the congratulations to Pramod on his successful and exciting experience.”

Since the beginning of self-isolation, Skoltech has been conducting its educational activities online. The Institute is leveraging its vast distance learning experience to successfully adapt all forms of learning, certification and practice to the new reality.

Contact information:
Skoltech Communications
+7 (495) 280 14 81

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