Library Friends Awards Inaugural Senior Thesis Prize to Hanna K. Liu

Hanna K. Liu was awarded the first Senior Thesis Prize by Friends of Caltech Libraries for her paper, “The abundance and behavior of viruses in ancient seawater and modern iron-rich environments.” Ms. Liu’s faculty advisors were Geology and Planetary Science Professors Victoria Orphan and Woodward Fischer.

The prize was awarded by Rosemary Choate, President of the Friends of Caltech Libraries. Among the five finalists, Liu’s thesis was selected for clear evidence of excellence in writing, extensive and effective use of bibliographic materials and comprehensive exploration and examination of the research question. She cited a nominator’s comment that “this level of scholarship is rarely observed at the undergraduate level.”

In addition to Hanna K. Liu, the 2011 Senior Thesis Finalists and their respective faculty mentor are:

– Christopher Berlind, whose thesis, “Analysis and design of nucleic acid systems via kinetic simulations,” was written under the direction of Computer Science Professor Erik Winfree and graduate student, Joseph Schaeffer .

– Laura Decker, whose thesis, “Social, political and economic conditions in the crusader kingdom and their effects on the social norms of the Christian settlers,” was overseen by History Professor Warren Brown

– Andrey Poletayev, whose thesis, “Silicon heterofunction wire array photovoltaics,” was overseen by Chemistry Professor Douglas Rees, with Professors Nate Lewis and Harry Atwater.

– Dongjin (DJ) Seo, whose thesis, “Demonstration of DAR (distributed active radiation) for radio frequency beamforming above the fmax of a technology,” was written under the direction of Electrical Engineering Professor Ali Hajimiri.

The Senior Thesis Prize was established in 2010 in order to recognize exceptional senior theses that represent exemplary research and effective use of library resources. All nominees were recognized for their excellent work and the prize was awarded at a reception at Alumni House on Monday, May 23rd, with alumni, Friends of the Caltech Libraries, library staff, faculty, Paul Bellan, Chair of the Academic Policy Committee, and Melany Hunt, Vice Provost, present. The reception was hosted by University Librarian, Kimberly Douglas.

In its inaugural year, the $1,200 prize is accompanied by a citation and will be announced at commencement.

Further information can be found in the Caltech Catalog, or at