Life as a Senior; The Senior Thesis

Hello friends! This is an exciting time of year for seniors as our senior theses are in full swing. Here at Haverford, seniors are asked to complete a research project in their respective major(s). And following the true nature of Haverford, each thesis is unique and special. Theses vary greatly from major to major.

Quite honestly, working on my thesis is a pretty incredible experience. For biology majors, we work closely with a professor and we each select a question to ask in their field of expertise. My thesis advisor, Justine Melo, focuses on understanding how animals detect invading pathogens and environmental hazards. In our lab we are using the nematode C. elegans to elucidate the inner workings of these surveillance processes. It’s some pretty interesting stuff.

For the past few weeks, biology majors have been giving department-wide presentations proposing our thesis projects. Although it was fairly intimidating to present my project to my peers and professors, it was such a helpful process. Not only did I receive suggestions for potential future experiments, but I also became of aware of some “hiccups” I may come across down the line. Scientists love to question everything. It’s what makes the field so exciting. It was such a pleasure to hear all of my peers talk about their projects as well. It’s funny, we all started off taking the same biology classes together, but our interests in the field have expanded so much!

Although my thesis will be a lot, and I mean A LOT, of work, I’m already learning so much from the process. The progress I’ve made in the lab, specifically with hands-on techniques, is unbelievable. I’m much more comfortable reading research articles and I’m capable of identifying gaps in scientific arguments. I’m even coming up with additional experiments to answer questions I have. Freshman-year Sophie would never have believed I’d be doing all of this with ease.

As I’m still in the preliminary stage of my thesis, i.e. conducting trial experiments and working on my written proposal, I’ll be sure to keep you all updated with any exciting things I find. Good luck to all of those early decision applicants! Cheers!