Keck Science Thesis Statement

Senior Program in Science 188L
Senior Thesis in Science 190L and 191

Students majoring in the sciences normally culminate their four-year experience at Keck Science in a research experience and/or thesis in their major field. Topics for investigation can be of the student's choosing or result from consultation with a faculty member in the field of concentration.

The one year ( two seemster) program consists of 188-190 and usually involves a laboratory or field investigation with a faculty member. In 188, a topic is chosen, background materials reviewed, and research started. In 190, research is continued, culminating in a written thesis and a poster presentation. Seminar attandance is required in each semester. Normally this two-semester sequence begins in the fall semester of the senior year. A variation on this is to begin field or laboratory research during the summer between junior and senior year, and to complete the thesis in the Fall odf senior year - this option requires plenty of prior planning and organization with the Keck Science thesis reader early in the Spring of junior year.

Students who prefer to undertake one-semester thesis should enroll in 191 during either the Fall or Spring semesters of their senior year. Laboratory or fieldwork is possible but requires prior planning. A poster presentation, and seminar attendance, is also part of a one-semester thesis.

The links to the right will lead you to the specifics of the program.


The Claremont community got a glimpse of life inside the laboratory as seniors presented research topics ranging from the effects of climate change on the physiology of intertidal organisms to the effects of acute stress on foraging behavior this week. Students of the W.M. Keck Science Department – the interdisciplinary home to biology, chemistry, and physics for Scripps, Pitzer, and Claremont McKenna Colleges – shared their senior research projects with faculty and fellow students, celebrating or commemorating the publication of their senior theses.

“We all look forward to this day,” says Interim Dean Marion Preest. “It’s the culmination of months of hard work, and it’s nice to hear the students take ownership and get excited about their thesis research. Occasionally you run across a student who’s nervous about presenting their poster, but as I tell them, they know more about their project than anyone else in the building!”

Lia Metzger (right) presents her research at the W. M. Keck Science Department.

Lia Metzger, a senior majoring in environment, economics, and politics from San Francisco, California, talked about inorganic heavy metals polluting the environment in Rio Baru, Costa Rica. Her work was supervised by Professor Donald McFarlane.

“After spending three and a half years at Scripps College, it was extremely fulfilling and rewarding to present my work and contribute to the knowledge here,” she says. “I was surprised by how exciting it was to finally share my thesis with my peers and professors.”

Presenting research through a poster is common in scientific disciplines, and the thesis presentations offer seniors valuable preparation for future experiences as graduate students and/or career scientists.  At professional meetings, researchers are typically assigned a time to display their posters and describe their work to colleagues and other interested scientists.

Student awareness of the benefits of this opportunity continues to grow. Close to 200 students participated this year, representing a 23% increase compared to the previous year, and the number of participants has doubled since 2009.

“It’s an important way to share results and ideas, and our department uses this format as a vital tool for students to discuss their work, in both specialized and non-specialized terms, with faculty and students from across the Claremont Colleges,” says Bidushi Bhattacharya, the department’s director of sponsored research.

To learn more, visit the W.M. Keck Science Department website.

Above: Jenna Koblentz ’15 shares her presentation with the Keck Science community on December 5.

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