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Caltech Theses

Ph.D. theses must be submitted in electronic form as part of the graduation requirements for Caltech. This guide serves as a tool for this process.

Overview and Description

The Friends of the Caltech Libraries Senior Thesis Prize 2022

The Friends of the Caltech Libraries created the prize in 2010 to recognize senior theses that exemplify research and the effective use of the scholarly record. The thesis is an extensive, independent written work produced during the senior year, usually within a senior thesis course series. The University Librarian and the Friends of the Caltech Libraries oversee evaluation and make recommendations to the Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee (UASH) for final selection. An oral presentation may be requested. At the discretion of the Friends of the Caltech Libraries, more than one award, or none, may be made in any year. Finalists are honored with a reception hosted by the Friends of the Caltech Libraries and receive acknowledgment of their finalist status on their official transcript.  The citation is accompanied by a $1200 honorarium and appears in the Commencement program.

Finalist theses will be deposited in the CaltechTHESIS digital repository.

Applications must be submitted electronically by midnight, WednesdayJune 1, 2022.  (Earlier deadlines apply for students graduating in an earlier semester.) See Submission Instructions below for details. 

Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

The prize recognizes effective use and incorporation of the scholarly record and information management tools in an original work of scholarship.

  • The thesis exhibits reflective use of information resources and technologies to present findings.
  • The thesis demonstrates authorship best practices in citation, attribution, and presentation of evidence in support of the research findings.
  • The student's author narrative clearly and thoroughly describes the student's critical interaction with the scholarly record and search strategies.

The prize recognizes soundness, originality, and creativity of the contribution to the research discipline.

  • The thesis presents itself to readers as a cohesive finished work, with clarity of argument and effective rhetorical technique from introduction to conclusion.
  • The introduction sets the prior art context for the work appropriate for a non-specialist audience, and the conclusion points to questions for future research.
  • Any included data and illustrations serve as clear and effective components of the narrative.

Submission Instructions

Submission Instructions

Applications must be submitted electronically by midnight, Wednesday, June 1, 2022.  Students may use either the Senior Thesis Prize Application Form OR submit required information to libraryprize_AT_library.caltech.edu . Students graduating in an earlier semester need to submit their thesis by the "grades due" date for that semester.

Submissions must include the following four components:
  • Faculty nomination for senior thesis prize* from the faculty member for whose class the senior thesis, essay or project was completed. Faculty are the sole judge of the originality and soundness of the research.
    *The faculty nomination is submitted via a webform by faculty. Applicants do not need to email that component to libraryprize AT library.caltech.edu
  •  Student application for senior thesis prize.
  • Author narrative - see below.
  • Final version of the senior thesis - see below.
Author Narrative:

This essential component of the submission demonstrates awareness that whatever question the author seeks to answer connects in substantive ways to inquiry done by other scholars. Academic researchers consult the scholarly record at all stages of a research project, in order to help shape, inform, and advance their own work while acknowledging and crediting those who have gone before.

The narrative consists of a brief (1-2 page) statement that:

  • explains to readers of the thesis your library research processes: what strategies you devised to find relevant information and synthesize it in your own work;
  • describes what this research process has taught you that represents skills and knowledge of value for your future endeavors;
  • reference your department's expectations for the senior thesis (or other) course for which the submission was written;
  • explain the aims of the study and whether it was designed as part of a larger research project at Caltech or was completed as an independent study.
Final Version of Senior Thesis:

The final version of the senior thesis or project completed for a senior thesis course series. Students are encouraged to use Caltech's thesis templates. For projects in a format other than PDF, please include the URL on the cover sheet. A bibliography in a style appropriate to the discipline is to be included in the thesis.

Deposit of Senior Thesis into CaltechTHESIS:

Finalists are expected to deposit their senior thesis into CaltechTHESIS

Past Winners

2018

From left to right, back: Nicholas Hutchins, Library Committee Chair Victor Tsai, Aadith Moorthy, Ruomeng Wan. From left to right, front: Jessica Du Li, Gillian Kopp, Ciara Ordner, winner Sarah Cai, Richard Antonello

2017

From left to right: contestants Moriah Bischann, Bella Guo, Adrian Ray Avalani, Aaron Young, Shannon Wang, and winner Daniel Lim

2016

Caltech Library Friends President Rosemary Choate, Senior Thesis Prize Winner Ayush Gupta, University Librarian Kristin Antelman, Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry Harry Gray

2015

Kerry Betz and Adam Jermyn. Ms. Betz’s thesis, “A Novel, General Method for the Construction of C-Si Bonds by an Earth-Abundant Metal Catalyst,” was nominated by Prof. Robert Grubbs.  Mr. Jermyn’s thesis, “The Atmospheric Dynamics of Pulsar Companions,” was nominated by Prof. Sterl Phinney. 

2014

Laga, Stephanie Midori (2014) A tale of two cobalts. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:05192014-150810287

Mukherjee, Eric S. (2014) How far from Jerusalem? Tropical customs and the question of race in the Book of John Mandeville. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:06052014-141341323

2013

Kalbarczyk, Karolina Zbigniew (2013) Directed evolution of terpene synthases for non-natural substrates. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:05302013-204117395

2012

Nichols, Eva Megan (2012) Structure and reactivity of copper dipyridyl carbinol- and rhenium diphosphine complexes. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:06142012-152459600

2011

Liu, Hanna K. (2011) The abundance and behavior of viruses in ancient seawater and modern iron-rich environments. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:06232011-131748079