Senior Thesis Highlights 2023

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Senior Thesis

There is no honors program at Haverford — because every student performs honors work.

The senior thesis is the capstone to a Haverford student’s academic career. It is an opportunity to do original research at levels usually reserved for graduate students, in partnership with faculty mentors. Haverford is one of only a few institutions in the country to include a senior thesis project as part of every student’s academic program.

The process of producing the senior thesis gives Fords the opportunity to demonstrate their analytic skills and creatively apply what they’ve learned during their four years at the College. Students become true scholars, and come to understand at a deep and practical level what it takes to create knowledge and to seek answers to challenging questions. In turn, they become more effective and influential agents for change in whatever fields they choose and in the communities they serve.

Eva White ‘23 Physics

“Designing a Microgrid for Haverford”

Eva White’s thesis focused on Haverford College’s existing resources and institutional goals, while examining the applicability, practicality, and feasibility of installing a microgrid on Haverford’s campus. Her junior year trip to Iceland led to her senior thesis topic and influenced her planned career path.

“I had always wanted to study abroad before going to college, and I also wanted to go to Iceland at some point in my life. With a physics major and environmental studies minor, the program in Iceland was perfect for my interests and degree requirements. My thesis can be used in conversations at Haverford about carbon neutrality and possible oncampus renewable installation, and it shows a strong student interest in sustainability practices on campus. Future students can write theses concentrating on ways to promote Haverford’s carbon neutrality, possibly modeled on mine, and I hope that work continues in this vein!”

Anubhav Sharma ‘23 Computer Science & Mathematics

“Finite Field Arithmetic and Its Applications To Cryptography”

Anubhav Sharma used the thesis for his double major to see how abstract mathematical structures like finite fields have real-world applications to information security through cryptography.

“My thesis offers a complete and quick overview of finite fields and how they are used in both private and public key cryptosystems. Cryptography is complicated and requires a solid background in algebra and number theory. My thesis not only includes these essential mathematical and computational prerequisites to understand the materials covered, but also provides ample references to literature for motivated readers. Though the thesis does not invent ‘new’ math, it presents the applications in an organized and succinct manner.”

Amolina Bhat ‘23 Philosophy & Sociology

“Uneasiness in the Museum: The Affective Subjectivity and Openness of Art Interpretation”

Amolina Bhat always had an interest in art, whether she was creating it herself or admiring the works of others. At Haverford, she was the student co-manager of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery.

“Through the position, not only did I learn some of the processes that go into the creation of various types of exhibits, but I also had the opportunity to interact with visitors on a daily basis. Some of the questions I answered in my thesis—why people feel uncomfortable entering spaces of ‘high art’ and how to make spaces where art is shown more accessible to non-art students or professionals—arose from my position at the gallery. I am extremely grateful for my time there, not only for serving as inspiration for my thesis, but also for introducing me to some wonderful people with whom I hope to stay connected.”

Magnolia Clayton ‘23 Independent Major in Education Studies

“Pursuing Education as Liberating Practice”

Magnolia Clayton, an independent major in education (with a concentration in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights) chose a senior thesis topic that was close to her heart. Clayton explored how education has functioned as promise, oppression, hope, and liberation in her own life, invoking many ideas from scholars who have influenced how she sees education as a tool for liberating practice.

“My thesis feels like a genuine representation of my academic and personal journey through the Bi-Co. As a First-Generation, Low Income (FGLI) student, I sometimes forget how many significant accomplishments I have achieved because I’m always focused on accomplishing my next thing, never looking backwards. This thesis reminds me where I’ve been and inspires me to move forward creating spaces for others to experience the power of liberating education.”

Christina McBride ‘23 Chemistry

“The Never-Ending Twists and Turns of a ‘Biosynthetic Scavenger

Hunt’: Unearthing

Novel Biosynthetic

Gene Clusters Using Bioinformatics and Strategically Evaluating ACP / PPTase

Compatibility In Vitro by Traversing the Type II Polyketide Synthase

Sequence Space”

Christina McBride’s research seeks to understand the ways in which microbes produce a particular class of natural products type II polyketides which have been shown to exhibit potent antibacterial and anticancer properties.

“I have been very fortunate to work under two spectacular mentors at Haverford, Professor of Chemistry

Lou Charkoudian and Assistant Professor of Biology Eric Miller, who have generously supported me and my research efforts. Both are brilliant researchers, and their passion for science and devotion to inclusive mentorship allowed me to grow and thrive at Haverford. While the bulk of my research was based in Lou’s lab, merging their unique expertise (Eric’s an amazing bioinformatician and Lou’s an unstoppable bioorganic chemist) allowed me to explore my project from multiple angles and widen my scientific skill set!”

Nick Lasinsky ‘23 English & History

”Copper’s Care: Public Welfare, Paternalism, and Worker Expression in a Michigan Company Town”

Nick Lasinsky’s senior thesis was inspired by an internship with the National Park Service in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His internship allowed him to more fully examine the effect of built space upon a mining community.

“My thesis clocked in on the lengthy side—119 pages—but I could have written even more if I had the time and energy. What is so amazing about history is the way it uncovers the layers upon layers of stories stacked beneath just about anything in the modern world. After writing this thesis, I literally cannot look at a building without picking it apart—wondering about the power dynamics behind its design and use. This kind of intense analysis changed the way I look at the world. In history, the harder you look, the more you will see; the deeper you dig, the more you will uncover—and that was a thrilling lesson to learn. My final copy is the product of late nights, exhaustive reading, frustrating feedback, endless edits, and many agonizing dead ends. Writing is hard! But it’s also rewarding. I highly recommend that anyone doing a thesis set aside the time and energy each week to pour a little of themselves into the work. It’s an incredible opportunity take advantage of it, because there is no feeling like the satisfaction of producing something you can be deeply proud of.”

Students come to Haverford for a richly intellectual and engaging academic experience based upon close student-faculty collaboration and direct engagement with ideas, issues, and questions. The senior thesis represents the culmination of a Haverford student’s academic experience, and is one of the most important and rewarding ways that Haverford realizes its educational mission.

Jack Crump ‘23 Physics

“Cosmological Variation of the Fine-Structure Constant”

Jack Crump, a physics major with minors in astronomy, math, and German, investigated some of the approximations and assumptions connected with astronomical tests of possible time-variation in the fundamental charge of a single electron. Models in which this phenomenon occurs may be a sign of new particle physics (e.g. string-theory inspired scenarios), and would change the way we understand the laws of nature.

“The biggest thing I learned from my thesis was how to tackle a huge project and work on something for about a year. A lot of our assignments in school are short-term, but I started my work on my thesis in the summer of 2022. It takes a different kind of approach to work on something that long-term. I also learned how to read through the literature to find what I needed. My scientific writing also got a lot better over the course of the project as I practiced. My final takeaway was that there is always more that you can do to improve understanding on a topic. That’s great if you need to find a thesis topic, but can also make it hard to know when to stop and be happy with what you have done.”

Celia Page ‘23 Economics

“An Examination of Discrimination in the Premier League”

Celia Page’s thesis research was rooted in the fields of sports economics and discrimination research, an area where attention has focused mainly on basketball, baseball, and football.

“I chose to complete my economics thesis on discrimination in Premier League soccer specifically, as there have been many instances of both fan-based and playerbased discrimination against non-white players in the league. Examining referee behavior, in terms of the number of yellow and red cards awarded to nonwhite players, could potentially shed light on more nuanced forms of discrimination in the Premier League. My thesis enhanced my critical thinking skills, allowed me to develop strong analytical tools, and more. Given the nature of the data I was working with, there were many inconsistencies and missing bits of information that made the data collection portion of my analysis a bit difficult. Learning how to navigate these kinds of challenges showed me that persistence is key and not every challenge has a simple solution. Being able to overcome these kinds of challenges made the whole process incredibly rewarding.”

These are just a few examples of projects by members of the Class of 2023. They represent the depth of intellectual engagement and diversity of interests that define the liberal arts at Haverford.

To read more thesis stories from the Class of 2023:

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