Thesis Statements

May 11, 2010

The Office of Public Affairs spoke with an array of graduating seniors about the intensity of experience that is the honors thesis. Whether they revised the U.S. Constitution, penned a play about the Jewish immigrant experience during the 1900s, pondered spirituality through poetry or attempted to prove the mathematical viability of invisibility cloaking, the eight students interviewed were united in the belief that their honors theses represented one of their most challenging and rewarding experiences at Amherst College.

Robyn Bahr, English

“Lay Me Down In Peace”
Robyn, one of two Senior Speakers of the Class of 2010, wrote a play for her thesis, about a pair of Russian Jewish immigrants from the early 1900s and their relationship with their three American-born children. Her adviser was Jennifer Cayer.

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Sarah Gelles, Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought

“A More Equal Constitution: Proposed Revisions to the United States Constitution”
Sarah’s proposed revisions to the U.S. Constitution would enhance citizens’ equality, as well as representation for more populous states. Her adviser was Lawrence Douglas.

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Dee Mandiyan, English and Psychology

“Halos of Light”
This collection of poems explores Dee’s relationship with religion. “I’ve been struggling to identify my own faith since I was five,” she says. Her adviser was David Sofield. (Read an interview with Sofield here.)

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Alexander Myers, Economics

“Stability of Risk Preference Estimates Over Payoff Horizons”
The technical title describes a behavioral economics experiment Alexander devised for Amherst students to explore temptation and its impact on risk-taking. His advisers were Daniel Barbezat and Jessica Reyes.

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Josh Nathan, English

“Prison Walls and Human Will: Literary and Foucauldian Representations of the Totalizing Penitentiary”
Spending time during a course discussing literature with prison inmates inspired Josh to explore the connections between the two. His adviser was Rhonda Cobham-Sander.

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Samantha Ostrowski, Environmental Studies

“Cooperation, Contestation and Conservation: an Analysis of Peace Parks”
In theory, Peace Parks are nature preserves that know no boundaries or borders. The reality is far more complex, Samantha found. Her adviser was Jan Dizard.

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Sam Schiavone, Mathematics

“Cloaking and Invisibility by Change of Variables”
It sounds like something out of a Harry Potter novel, but as Sam explains, the mathematics of cloaking is more fact than fiction. His adviser was Tanya Leise.

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Dean Udom, Physics

“Improving the Experimental Precision of a Solid-State Electron EDM Search”
Wearing his nifty Amherst College Physics jacket, Dean discusses how the experiment he devised with the guidance of adviser Larry Hunter might explain why the world exists and is made of matter, and not just energy and nothing else.

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