Ewa Simpanen defended her thesis "Longer Wavelength GaAs-Based VCSELs for Extended-Reach Optical Interconnects" in front of a sparse audience in the lecture hall Kollektorn. In the simultaneous YouTube webcast, the audience was much bigger. The participants could also easily ask questions and make comments in the chat.
The decision to broadcast the defence online was made at short notice as a result of the ongoing virus outbreak. The limited time for preparation led to some technical problems, which Ewa Simpanen describes as a "roller coaster".
"At first everything worked as it should, but then the sound disappeared and we had to restart several times," she says.
The grading committee and the opponent, Dr. Nicolae Chitica from Finisar Sweden AB, participated via link in the video conferencing system Zoom. He praised her for a solid and interesting job.
Two unintended breaks made the public defense one of the longest in the department's history with its four hours. In retrospect, Ewa thinks back to the day with joy, despite the technical issues:
"I got a lot of support from everyone who watched my presentation remotely and I absolutely didn't feel alone! It was fun that colleagues in other parts of Europe who otherwise would not have been able to join me, could also follow me online. And what amazing cheers I received when it was announced that I had been approved! An absolutely incredible feeling! I am very happy and grateful to all those who watched and gave me their support, before, during and after the presentation."
What is your thesis about?
"I presented the work on my lasers, which are used for optical cables in mega data centers. These lasers make it possible to send data at high-speed over longer distances of fiber, up to a few km, while being both cost and power efficient," Ewa says.
With her fresh PhD grade, she plans to venture out into the world:
"I want to continue working with photonics or semiconductors in the industry and am now looking for jobs at large companies in the US," she says.
On the picture below, Ewa is nailing her thesis on the tree of knowledge in Canyon.
Henric Fjellstedt, IT-responsible at the department, kept a watchful eye on the technology. Ewa Simpanen was very pleased with his efforts:
"Without Henric, this really wouldn't have worked! He fixed all the technical parts at really short notice. I'm also proud that we have a head of department who was with us all the way and helped everywhere he could, that's cool."
Already, several upcoming thesis defences have been postponed, but MC2's head of department, Mikael Fogelström, opens up to stream more of them in the future - at least in times of crisis:
"I think that one must first and foremost protect the fact that a dissertation is one of the most important academic ceremonies we have. It is therefore of great value that as many as possible are present in the auditorium," he says.
Text: Michael Nystås
Photo: Dag Winkler, Michael Nystås and private