Category Archives: Published Works

2017 Research Year in Review: Meeting the Minimum Docent Qualifications

As outlined in the Docent regulations:
“The title of docent is a nationally well known and recognised indicator of scientific and pedagogical expertise…Obtaining a docentur implies that the holder has achieved a degree of independence such that he or she can lead, supervise and evaluate research and academic instruction…‘Docent’ is an academic title that by tradition confers venia docendi, that is ‘the right to teach’ and supervise on all levels of the university; however, the institution of docentur is also rooted in scientific expertise.”
To achieve the title of docent (associate professor), there are three main criteria:

  • 5 weeks of pedagogy courses
  • 15 or more publications
    • Especially helpful is demonstrating independence i
      • e.g. not publishing with your PhD supervisor
      • e.g. being last author
  • 120 hours of classroom teaching
    • Teaching needs to be within the last 6 years
      • So all of my US teaching, where I accumulated hundreds of hours now no longer count
    • Preparing lectures, grading, etc. do not count for teaching hours
    • Teaching to undergraduate students, graduate students, and clinicians do count as teaching hours
    • Supervising master student theses also count
      • Only 60 hours of teaching can be supervision hours

In 2017, I started my second full year as a postdoc in the Department of Public Health at Karolinska Institute. However, in practice, I worked relatively little in 2017, as I took parental leave from January thru August, working only 40% during that time period.

Pedagogy Courses
I worked while on parental leave, primarily to take an online course needed for docent entitled Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Distance). This is a full-time five-week pedagogy course that takes place online over the span of several months. It worked out really well for me, as many assignments were done individually, on my own time.

Once I came back from parental leave, I also took another online course called Open Networked Learning, which accounts for two full weeks of pedagogy. Here we learned about different open sources one can use when teaching distance courses, as well as ways to make your classroom more interactive.

Furthermore, I took the Web Course for Supervisors 2017 course. This only took a couple of hours to complete, but it went over the legal rules one must follow when directing a PhD student.

Since you need five weeks of pedagogy to become docent, and I now have over 7 weeks, I have met this criteria.

I also used my parental leave-working time to finish up a few articles, as I didn’t want to leave co-authors waiting for eight months.

As such, I was able to publish four new articles in 2017:

This brings my total publications in peer-reviewed journals to 15! Meaning that I have enough publications, barely, to apply for docent. The Head Start article marks my third sole authored paper, where now I have sole authored a qualitative paper, a quantitative paper, and a literature review/meta-synthesis. Hopefully these papers can show my ability to work independently and via using different methodologies.

Even though I was off from working for a good chunk of the year, apparently people were still reading and citing my previously published researched.

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According to ScholarGoogle, in 2016, I had a total of 116 citations, but by the end of 2017, I had 194. My h-index also increased from a 6 to a 9 and my i-index from a 5 to a 9. However, my citations for 2016 and 2017 were relatively similar with 54 and 57 citations, respectively.

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My ResearchGate numbers also increased. I now have a ResearchGate score of 23.01, which apparently means that my score is higher than 75% of other users.

In 2016, I had a total of 2310 reads, while in 2017, I had 4726 reads. Of course ResearchGate comes with plenty of caveats, such as the fact that most researchers go to the actual journals website rather than ResearchGate to find articles to read. However it’s easy to read the numbers off of ResearchGate, so that’s what I use. On this website it is clear to see that my book chapter Families and Family Policies in Sweden has a total of 1276 reads, making it by far my most read publication from ResearchGate.

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Teaching & Supervision

I was able to do a bit of teaching in 2017, especially in the fall. While I had a few hours here and there, such as in Brain Development or Sexual for Psychologists and Reproductive Health for Midwifery students, my main group of teaching hours came from giving guest lectures in the Epidemiology masters track in a course called Applied Epidemiology 3- Methods for outcome Evaluation of Public Health interventions. I gave lectures on 1) Overview of Study Design in Public Health Outcome Evaluations, 2) Planning the Evaluation, and 3) Evaluating the Implementation of a Community-wide New Father Visit at the Swedish Child Health Centers. In addition, I peer audited the course leader. I also gave a day-long lecture for all masters students in Public Health at KI (Epi + Health Economic) in a course called Theory, Practice, and Ethics.

In addition to teaching, I also supervised four midwifery students as they completed two theses. Two of these were in the spring of 2017, while the other two were in the fall of 2017.

  1. Saga Fogelström and Anna Björsson (2017). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Tänk om hon dör och jag blir ensam kvar: En intervjustudie över blivande pappors förlossningsrädsla (What if she dies and leaves me all alone: An interview based study of fathers’ fear of childbirth). I am a co-supervisor.
  2. Michaela Modin Asper and Nino Hallén (2017). Department of Public Health. Postpartum depression screening for fathers: A cost-benefit analysis in Stockholm Sweden. I am a co-supervisor.
  3. Emmeli Vallin and Hanna Nestander (2017). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Tänk om hon dör: Mäns upplevelser vid komplikationer under förlossning. (What if she dies: Men’s experiences in complications during childbirth). I am the main supervisor.
  4. Sofia Kittmark and Matias Garzon (2017). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Same-sex mothers’ views of the Swedish child health centers: A qualitative study. I am a co-supervisor.

The theses from Women’s and Children’s Health are worth 15 credits (10 weeks), while the one from Public Health is worth 30 credits (20 weeks) for students. The supervisor receives 15 hours of teaching for every 10 weeks of thesis work. Therefore, I have (15/2)+(30/2)+15+(15/2) = 45 hours of supervision.

Theses 2-4 are currently being revised for publication! So perhaps more news on them in the 2018 year in review 🙂

Therefore, in total, I have 62 hours of classroom teaching time, as well as 45 hours of supervision time. Thus, I am just shy of the 120 teaching hours needed for docent.

Other Events

  • I presented at the Nordic Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health in Stockholm. The talk was entitled Swedish Child Health Nurses’ Mental Health Support to Mothers and Fathers in 2004 and 2014.
  • My colleagues presented our research findings at Värna våra yngsta: Späda barns rätt till hälsa och utveckling in Stockholm. The talk was called Dialogsamtal med föräldrar om alkohol för att upptäcka barn i riskmiljöer.
  • I was interviewed by Alexander von Schuppler for Region Skåne’s monthly newsletter on the supports fathers want/need in the Swedish child health field.





Supporting fathers in the Swedish child health field

I recently published a literature review and meta-ethnography entitled Literature review shows that fathers are still not receiving the support they want and need from Swedish child health professionals in Acta Paediatrica.

This article received a lot of attention when it was first published. For example, Sverige’s vetenskapsradio first interviewed me on the findings. Then TT picked it up, meaning that the story was in every newspaper, from national to local newspapers. Before being interviewed by a national news program, Rapport.

It was further promoted by different organizations, such as Män för Jämställdhet. And other writers/bloggers talked about it.

What was really cool was that Sven Bremberg was asked by Acta Paediatrica to write an editorial which he called Supporting fathers is essential in the child health field

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So I had my 15 minutes of fame.

Now, a year or so later, I have finally had the time to make my first video. I’ve always wanted to promote my research through videos, but haven’t had the time. I’m highly critical of the final product, both of the video and the content, but it was my first attempt and it was a fun learning experience.

In fact, as a researcher, it’s hard to see your work lose it’s nuance. I thought enough nuance was lost when publishing it, as word counts affected how many details I could say. But trying to make a 5 minute video left very little room for nuance.

What I attempted to do was to show four examples–one from each arena within the child health field: prenatal, labor & birth, postnatal, and child health centers. I wanted to show two positive examples of ways midwives and nurses support fathers and two examples where support could be improved. However the two examples of improved support are more on the organizational/managerial level, rather than critiques of midwives’/nurses’ attitudes and support given to fathers.

Perhaps future videos will be made to provide a more nuanced understanding of the support fathers receive in the different child health arenas. Until then, I have my first overview video.

2016 Research Year in Review: Grants, Publications, Citations, and Media Attention

So it’s September 2017, and I’m just now getting around to my 2016 yearly review 🙂 I guess being off on parental leave all year certainly takes its toll on free-time and how I allocate that time.

Luckily, I made screenshots on January 1st of various markers to better record my early review.

To see what I’ve accomplished this year, I want to go back and see what I did last year for comparison purposes. Luckily I can click on this link to remind myself. Marking my first full year as a postdoc, 2016 was a great year!

My single biggest research accomplishment was that I secured my very first research grant! I applied for a gender-focused research grant through Stockholm’s Läns Landsting (County Council). The grant is for 500,000 SEK for two years (250,000 SEK per year). So while not a huge grant, it was very exciting to receive my first grant. And this grant allows me to continue my father research.

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In 2017, Stockholm county will implement a new father-only visit when the child is three-to-five months old. I received the grant, along with co-applicant, Dr. Malin Bergström, to evaluate the implementation, as well as the familial outcomes of this community-based intervention.

While I had some temporary postdoc positions in 2015 with Child Health and Parenting (CHAP) at Uppsala University and at the Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS) at Stockholm University, in 2016, I started a 100% position in Child and Adolescent Public Health Epidemiology Group, Department of Public Health at Karolinska Institute under Dr. Finn Rasmussen. However, wanting to continue my research with Dr. Malin Bergström at CHESS on fathers in the Swedish child health field, I negotiated an 80-20 split.

Finn hired me to run a Job Seeking intervention for young (18-24) high school dropouts who were currently seeking employment, among other register-based research. This project took a dramatic turn before I even started–instead of working with Arbetsförmedlingen, we would now need to run the project ourselves, meaning we would make the program online. Similarly, we needed to device a whole new manual, as some collaborators from Finland, with their School2Work program, fell through.

So I started working on this project from scratch throughout the year, in collaboration with Finn and Dr. Ata Ghaderi.


Publications were still ongoing however. In 2016, I had five publications:

  1. Wells MB. Literature review shows that fathers are still not receiving the support they want and need from Swedish child health professionals. Acta Paediatrica. 2016;105(9):1014-23.
  2. Wells MB, Sarkadi A, Salari R. Mothers’ and fathers’ attendance in a community-based universally offered parenting program in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2015;44:274-80.
  3. Wells MB, Lang SN. Supporting Same-Sex Mothers in the Nordic Child Health Field: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-synthesis of the Most Gender Equal Countries. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2016;25(23-24):3469-83.
  4. Bergström M, Wells MB, Söderblom M, Ceder S, Demner E. Projektet Pappa på BVC: Barnhälsovården i Stockholms län 2013-2015. Stockholms län landsting: 2016.
  5. Wellander L, Wells MB, Feldman I. Does Prevention Pay? Costs and Potential Cost-savings of School Interventions Targeting Children with Mental Health Problems. Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics. 2016;19(2):91-101.

Technically, #2 came out in December of 2015, and therefore I reported it last year. In addition, #4 is a Swedish report, not a peer-review article. So I had three new peer-review articles published in 2016; two of which were meta-sythenses. While many postdocs may have more publications in a year, I was quite proud for two reasons: 1) it takes a PhD student four years to publish 3 papers and one manuscript, so having recently received my PhD the year before, I liked the idea of doing a “PhD” in one year and 2) I just had my first child in January 2016, and so it was a hectic year with a nice parenting learning curve on top of juggling full time work and commuting from Uppsala to Stockholm daily.

I took a course on how to conduct Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses, but quickly learned that most studies completed in the child health field are qualitative in nature. Therefore, I independently learned about meta-syntheses and meta-ethnographies, and then completed two articles using these methods. I was very proud of these articles because 1) I learned a method and completed it on my own (for one of the articles) and 2) I was able to contribute a larger voice to how parents are and are not supported in the Nordic and Swedish child health fields, respectively.

It wasn’t only me who was proud–apparently other researchers were also proud. For example, Dr. Hugo Lagercrantz, the editor of Acta Paediatrica, wrote about my findings in his “highlights in this issue”. Having published in Acta Paediatrica a couple of times before this, it was cool to see my research being highlighted.

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But, then they invited Dr. Sven Bremberg to write an editorial on why we should “Support fathers in the child health field“, where he springboarded his editorial based off of my article. That was super cool! To see a well-known researcher highlighting why your research is important and necessary. Boom!

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Sweden also wanted to get in on the conversation!

While I had had a few interviews before, I had my 15 minutes of fame after publishing these back-to-back literature reviews, although much more notoriety and focus was on fathers, rather than same-sex mothers, sadly.

Initially vetenskapsradio (science radio–sort of the Swedish NPR radio station) interviewed me, paying particular attention to my findings on the ways fathers are treated throughout the Swedish child health field. It was a really pleasant experience, even though I desperately struggled to say one or two sentences in Swedish.

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After that news story broke, I not only had friends calling, texting, and Facebooking messages to me saying they heard me on the radio (I didn’t even know people listened to vetenskapsradio), but also TT, a news reporting agency similar to the Associated Press, picked up the story and re-reported it (without talking to me). This meant that the story was in basically every Swedish paper, from national papers to small local ones.

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By the afternoon, I had received a phone call from Rapport; I was going to be on the national evening news. That was exciting!


And then my day long fame had ended….until I met a father at a park three weeks later, and he recognized me from the news report. That was a cool feeling!

My citations also significantly grew. In 2015, I had 74 citations, while at the start of January 2016, I had 118, according to my ScholarGoogle page. My h-index increased from 5 to a 6, while my i10-index increased from 2-5.

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ResearchGate numbers also grew. In 2015, I had 1066 reads and in 2016 I had 2310. ResearchGate however has far fewer reads than the publications website and the number of citations ResearchGate finds is considerably lower than ScholarGoogle or even PubMed. Moreover, they keep changing their metrics, so it’s hard to compare year to year, but my ResearchGate score went from a 16.87 to 20.02.

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I have also been able to do a bit of teaching, although not nearly enough. For example, I have given lectures in 1) Sexual and Reproductive Health I (a course for midwives in Women’s and Children’s Health), where I talked about the importance of involving fathers in the child health field and 2) How to Conduct a Literature Review and Meta-analysis mainly for PhD students/postdocs in Public Health, where I talked about conducting a meta-synthesis.

I was however also invited to give a talk at “Mödra- och barnhälsovårdens gemensamma studieeftermiddag” where again, I discussed fathers in the Swedish child health field.

Lastly, I helped to write a debate article that was printed in Svenska Dagbladet, a major Swedish newspaper on supporting fathers.

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While I never heard from the public on this issue, I did upset a colleague by participating in this debate article. I guess you just can’t please everyone.


Swedish Child Health Centers’ Built Environment: Do They Include Fathers?

Swedish child health centers have historically been a place for new mothers and children. We assessed 31 child health centers’ waiting rooms to see the extent to which they included images of mothers, fathers, and children. 75% did not include fathers…at all. Read the full article here.

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Background: Sweden is trying to create a gender equal country and around 97% of all families in Sweden visit the child health centers for routine check-ups, vaccinations, to monitor their child’s growth and development, and to receive parenting advice, either for their specific child’s problems or via parenting groups.

Study Design:Prior to the study, we defined what constituted a mother, father, and/or child environment (or any combination thereof).


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Note: None of the environments were father-mother, father-child, or father centered, so those definitions have been removed.

I then visited and took pictures of 31 child health centers throughout Sweden. I visited centers in rich and poor neighborhoods, urban and rural areas, and private and public child health centers.

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Pictures were taken of everything in their waiting room, magazine titles were written down, and all pamphlets that could be handed out to parents were collected.


I then met up with two co-researchers, where we independently viewed the waiting room via the pictures and samples to determine if that space included the mother, father, and/or child.

The waiting room was determined to be mother, father, and/or child centered as long as at least 25% of the space consisted of that individual; leaving the last 25% to be aimed at any or all of these types of individuals (neutral items [e.g. abstract art, pictures of nature] did not count for or against any individual family member).

The messages on the bulletin boards were broken down using manifest and latent analysis using semiotic visual analysis.

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The magazine readership was sought out

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31 Child Health Centers

  • 12 = Mother-Child Centered
  • 8  = Family-Centered
  • 6  = Child-Centered
  • 2  = Women-Centered
  • 3  = Neutral

The most common waiting room had lots of items for mothers (e.g. images of mothers, magazines that mothers typically read) and toys and books for children, as well as images of children, but very little or nothing for fathers.

In fact, only one category, family-centered, included fathers, while the rest were composed of mothers and/or children.



We also observed parents, mothers and fathers, visiting the child health centers to see what they did while in the waiting room–read books, talk on their cell phone, interact with their child, talk with each other….just sit in their chair.

Mothers’ behavior did not change between environments, but fathers were more likely to play with their child and read the brochures/pamphlets if they were in a non-women centered environment (e.g. either family centered or child centered).

Conclusions: People are affected by their environments–people read in libraries, party at concerts, act posh at fine dining establishments. They don’t typically do the reverse (read at concerts and party in libraries).

The child health centers are no different. Their built environment sends messages on who’s welcomed and how they should act.

To further promote involved fathering in child health, the child health centers should rebuild their environments to be more inclusive of fathers.

To help ensure an inclusive waiting room (for all types of people), we created (in Swedish) a checklist they can use!!!

Click here or on the picture to see the full checklist.

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Swedish Child Health Nurses’ Attitude Toward Fathers

We published a qualitative article in Acta Paediatrica on how Swedish child health nurses felt about fathers coming into the child health centers. While child health nurses accepted and welcomed fathers, they did little to invite, include, or further support fathers (click here to read the full article).

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I interviewed 17 child health nurses from various places in Sweden: north, south, east, west; urban and rural; experienced and inexperienced; young and old. All child health nurses were women–Not uncommon since there are only a handful of men that are child health nurses in the whole country.

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Four themes were discussed in this article.

While child health nurses are experts on children’s health and believe that fathers are attending the child health centers more than ever; they seem to be attending in spite of rather than because of support they receive from the child health nurses.

Child health nurses say that they value mothers to a much greater extent than fathers and provide more support to mothers.

However, child health nurses are in various stages of providing more support to fathers: while some have never thought about actively involving fathers, others have tried to, but feel their hands are tied when it comes to making changes, while others have even tried to make changes (e.g. discuss with their boss about having evening and weekend hours, magazines for fathers, pictures emphasizing fathers). However, no child health nurses that were interviewed had yet made any real changes.

downloadConclusion: If we want mothers and fathers to be equal parents, fathers will need to be accepted and encouraged to participate, just like mothers.

The Swedish child health centers provide great child development advice, host parenting groups, are seen as parenting experts, and are appreciated throughout Sweden.

For example, their services benefit parents…mothers.

The extra support mothers receive aides mothers in continuing to raise their child, at least as far as their child’s health in concerned, since she is the parenting expert because she receives the most support and is the most welcome at the child health centers.

Changing routine practices at the child health centers to further promote and support fathers will aid Sweden’s goal of becoming a gender equal country.

PhD Defense: The Party

A couple of hours after my PhD Defense, I was famous.


My PhD dissertation could now be found on academic bookshelves everywhere (Swedish university libraries are found).


Going to my PhD party felt like I had made it through a marriage ceremony, and now got to finally enjoy myself; except for the fact that I’m too exhausted to fully enjoy myself.

Booze are needed. Lots and lots of booze.

It doesn’t hurt to add in loads of friends, colleagues, supervisors, and family to cheer you on.


Speeches start with the big hitters–the supervisors….and my partner.

Anna toasting me with a silver spoon (with an “A” engraved on it)
Raziye sharing wisdom and giving me books of knowledge.
Sarah sharing our research story
Sarah giving me Buckeyes; which works on so many levels!
Lisa emotionally sharing our story as I traversed through my PhD.

Food is ever important for lifting your spirits.


And if that doesn’t work, then you should start singing.


A song created by the Wellander Family!

Flowers (and gifts) aren’t bad either; they always brighten your day!


To really wake everyone up, my colleagues put on quite a show, highlighting my journey of learning and blending in with Swedish culture and Swedish research.

Once their speech was complete, I received their gifts.

Some fancy bicycle cuff-links.


And a seemingly ordinary blue coffee mug…that meant substantially more to me than any other present. 

Which was promptly followed up by the comical conspirators The Wellanders! Led by Linus and Fredrik, they proceeded to barrage and embarrass me with typical high school hijinks that I of course didn’t get to participate in when I was 18, and therefore, I get to now relive those moments, in order to feel truly like a graduating Swede….complete with embarrassing baby photos.

Fredrik and Louise preparing my embarrassment.
The comical stylings of Linus & Fredrik!
Having the whole Wellander Family celebrate me!

I know some truly gifted, loving, and inspiration people!

Me enjoying the evening (complete with a Swedish/American pin).

Thank you for a wonderful journey!

Now time to sleep.



Defending my PhD Dissertation: Swedish Style

Sweden is a lot different than the USA when you have to defend your PhD dissertation (PhD avhandling). For example, there is a lot more pomp and circumstance surrounding the event.

Announcements letting people know where my defense will commence.

You get your PhD Dissertation book in the mail weeks in advance (after all, you need to mail them to your PhD committee and opponent [more on them in a minute]).

My defense is on parental gender issues, so                                                       how could I not where blue and pink?

Your defense is publically announced weeks before your actual defense and anyone may attend your defense (either as friend or foe).

It always helps to go to your defense room, pre-defense, to practice your speech, be challenged by your supervisors (and other colleagues).

And make sure all of the equipment (lights, shades, microphone, powerpoint, etc) all work and that you know how to work them.

Main University Building, Uppsala University. The sign reads “To think free is big, but to think right is bigger.”

When the day of my defense finally happened, I had to decorate it with my research posters.

After everyone arrives, the opponent, committee members, supervisors, and the PhD student are announced via a chairperson.

Dr. Jan Gustafsson, former Head of Women’s and Children’s Health was the Chairmaster of my defense.

After the announcements are made, and your dissertation book is passed out, you now make a 30 minute speech about your research; telling a story of where the field is, why your research is needed, the strengths and limitations to your research, how your research contributes to the field, and future needed research.

The title slide of my Defense (click the picture to see the full presentation [complete with all of the additional slides I included at the end just in case the committee had questions on those topics]).
Another difference from the USA: you have an opponent. An opponent is a professional within your field who is not connected to you or anyone that you’ve worked with (e.g. your supervisors) within the past five years. They are there to critically challenge your dissertation.

For me, this meant facing Professor Anders Broberg, a psychologist from Göteborg Universitet (Gothenburg University).

Me (on the left) vs. my opponent (Dr. Broberg)

While professors in public health have a reputation for seeing how your work fits in a larger framework, psychologists have reputations for picking apart the methodology and statistics you use. My opponent met that stereotype.

Beyond the opponent, you also have to face a battering ram of committee members. This consists of three professors who also have not worked with you or your advisors for the past five years. The PhD student typically meets these committee members at their half-time: when they are half-way completed with their PhD and need to defend their progress thus far, while also receiving support and advice on how to strengthen their dissertation and future research projects.

I had three committee members for my half-time: Dr. Sven Bremberg, Dr. Pia Enebrink, and Dr. Birgitta Essen. However, by the time of my defense, only Birgitta would be on my PhD committee, as various other research projects began to take hold between my supervisor, Dr. Anna Sarkadi and Sven and Pia, respectively. So two new replacements were needed: Dr. Anneli Ivarsson and Dr. Lars Plantin.

The three in the front row are my committee members; all of whom are feverishly taking notes.

Hours later–After you’ve faced down your opponent and the three committee members, then anyone from the audience is allowed to challenge your work. This is most tedious, because you’re exhausted from defending, and it’s much harder to prepare for audience members, since they could bring up pretty much any topic.

Some members of the audience (mostly friends and colleagues)

Thankfully, I didn’t have any audience questions.

At this point, everyone came up to congratulate me on my “job well done” while they committee, opponent, and my supervisors (Anna and Dr. Raziye Salari) went into a private room to discuss the defense. After 10-20 minutes, my supervisors are dismissed and the committee decides your fate.


A pre-party starts, with champagne and snacks while we await the verdict.

Promoting my dissertation…a picture speaks 1000 words                             (too bad I didn’t have more pictures 😉

I graduated!

Colleagues and friends toasting my graduation!

Now time for the party!