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Library Events: Senior Thesis Prize

Senior Thesis Prize


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. Finalist theses will be deposited in the CaltechTHESIS digital repository. 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 cash prize and appears in the Commencement program.

Evaluation criteria

  1. 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.
  1. 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

The deadline has passed for the 2022 Senior Thesis Prize. 

Submissions must include the faculty nomination and the student application:

  • Faculty nomination (form below) 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.
  • Student application (form below). Students graduating in an earlier semester need to submit their thesis by the "grades due" date for that semester.

The nomination form is to be completed by the faculty member who is nominating a student.

Senior Thesis Prize: Nomination Form


The application form is to be completed by the student who wrote the thesis.

Senior Thesis Prize: Application Form

Past winners



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


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


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


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.


Laga, Stephanie Midori (2014) A tale of two cobalts. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology.

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.


Kalbarczyk, Karolina Zbigniew (2013) Directed evolution of terpene synthases for non-natural substrates. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology.


Nichols, Eva Megan (2012) Structure and reactivity of copper dipyridyl carbinol- and rhenium diphosphine complexes. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology.


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.