Senior Theses

All seniors at Reed College must complete a year-long thesis project as a part of their final academic year. For Biology students, the senior thesis offers an opportunity to fully engage a research question with the assistance of a faculty advisor. The diversity of topics and questions pursued by Biology seniors spans the breadth of the biological sciences. All students must identify a focused problem within their area of interest and then design experiments, collect and analyze data, and provide both a written document and oral defense of the finished thesis.

The range of research topics engaged in by Biology seniors can be seen below in the list of thesis titles from our most recent group of seniors. Thesis titles are listed in alphabetical order by the senior's last name. The abstract for a thesis can be viewed by clicking on the Abstract link (if provided). The faculty member advising each student is listed with the abstract, and includes a link to his/her home page.

Thesis Research Support

The Biology Department has available a number of sources of financial support for thesis research. While modest projects are sometimes supported from regular Department funds, many of our Seniors find support for their expenses from research grants to their faculty thesis advisor or from institutional grants from foundations like HHMI and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. Research funds from institutional grants are awarded on a competitive basis to seniors who prepare a written proposal in support of their request. These foundation grants have provided critical support, allowing Reed seniors to develop research projects that are more ambitious and sophisticated than might otherwise be possible. In addition to developing critical research skills, the seniors learn the important process of supporting their research through the development of written research proposals. Senior theses listed below (or on the links above for earlier years) that were supported by such grants are designated with a label in blue.

You may be wondering just how many Biology and BMB majors we graduate each year. We wondered that as well, so in 1996 we began weighing the graduating class to determine the official "biomass" of the Department's seniors. We can now quantitatively answer the question of how many seniors we graduate, with our answer given in units of metric tons. You can see the results at the BIOMASS homepage.

2014 Senior Thesis Titles

(CLASS OF 2014: If your thesis abstract is not currently included on this page and you would like it to be, please follow this link.)

  • Macroinvertebrate Diversity in the Reed College Canyon by Jennifer Rose Balmagia

  • Brooding Females: The Role of Dopamine in Maternal Care in Astatotilapia burtoni by Nisa Melek Beceriklisoy

  • Nitrogen Fixation in the Biological Soil Crusts of Eastern Oregon by Scott Joseph Breitenstein – Abstract

  • The Isolated Xenopus Laevis Brain as a Model for the Exploration of the Off-Target, Central Nervous System Effects of Mefloquine by Alison Leila Nouri Chalker

  • Host Lipid Mobilization by Parasitoid Wasp Venom by Natalie Field Cowan

  • Virus-like Particles in the Venom of Parasitoid Wasps by Daniel Sithylemenkat Dashevsky

  • The neuronal basis for sex-specific vocalizations in the Aquatic frog Xenopus laevis: possible roles for testosterone in regulating the NR2 subunit identity in N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors by Sydney Elise Dent

  • PerC Enhances Oxidative Stress Response in Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli by Karen Marie Dewey

  • Modularity and Adaptation: Nova-mediated RNA processing and functional synaptic organization by Nathan Alexander Eisenberg

  • Using Bacteriophages to Clear Bacterial Biofilms by Jennifer Marie Farrell

  • Characterization of Xenopus laevis Shelterin Complex: Interaction of TRF1 and PinX1 by Smith Isa Freeman

  • The Effect of Porcine Zona Pellucida Immunocontraception on Feral Horse Behavior: A Study of Mare Fidelity on Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland by Emily C.R. Gastelum

  • Assessment of the cumulative natural and anthropogenic threats to Columbia River Basin salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha using Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch criteria with implications for management by Alaïa Victoria Giglio

  • The Effects of Antimalarial Drugs on the Vocal Central Pattern Generator in the Frog, Xenopus laevis by Matthew Paul Keeslar

  • Understanding the Mechanism of ler Regulation by PerC by Augustus Mallett Kilgore

  • Hydrophobicity of the Ler Linker is Necessary for Transcriptional Activation by Abraham Yoav Leiser

  • A Search for Nuclear Phylogeographic Markers in Delphinium Nuttallii by Ellen Rebecca Levkoy – Abstract

  • Examination of Stress Tolerance and Nitrogen Fixation in Medicago truncatula by Miranda Lyons-Cohen

  • Objective Crosstalk: The interaction between method and diversity using the 16S rRNA gene of symbiotic cyanobacteria by Erin Elizabeth Warren McAllester, Environmental Studies-Biology

  • Trypanosomatid Parasitism Activates Conserved Innate Immune Response, Visualized for the First Time in a Drosophila Host by Sara Yin-Ling Post

  • Investigating the Link between Gluthione-S-Transferase Activity and Nitrogenase Activity in Red Alder (Alnus Rubra Bong) and Bitterbrush (Purshia Tridentata) by Desmond Rgwaringesu

  • Searching for the neural rhythmogenesis of Xenopus laevis' vocal communication necessitates troubleshooting by Patrick Scott Sadil – Abstract

  • Mechanistic Basis of Maternal Behavior in a Cichlid Fish by Hannah Curtin Schaupp

  • The Role of CPSF-73 in Splicing of the Terminal Intron of FOS pre-mRNA by Kevin Wolf Schmidt

  • Characterization of Telomerase Products in Xenopus laevis Tissue Extracts by Erin Michelle Sheffels – Abstract

  • Racing the red queen: An examination of the effects of parasitoid wasp infection on Drosophila melanogaster homologous recombination by Shelly Anne Skolfield

  • Female Sex Steroids Alter Subcellular Localization of Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor ÀB Ligand (Rankl) in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells by Molly Jane Spilka - Abstract

  • The Genetic Basis of the Floral Color Transition in the Divergence of Delphinium leucophaeum and Delphinium nuttallii by Kimberly Anne Stanton

  • Effects of the herbicide diuron on multiple life stages of Bombina orientalis: implications for pesticide use and amphibian conservation by Taylor Rose Stinchcomb, Environmental Studies, Biology – Abstract

  • R2R3-MYB Discovery in Delphinium nuttallii by Ryan Joseph Streur

  • Zinc Metal Competition and Oxidative Stress by Poornima Subramanian

  • Retinoic Acid Signaling and Retinal Stem Cell Behavior in the Zebrafish Ciliary Marginal Zone by Amanuel Melesse Tafessu - Abstract

  • The Role of Extrinsic and Intrinsic Cues in Rescue of Retinal Stem Cell Proliferation and Differentiation in Zebrafish by Ingrid Veronica Tower

  • Pot1, Tpp1, and Telomerase in Xenopus laevis by Joshua Alexander Urrutia

  • Inhibition of Telomerase and the PCR by 3xPinX1 by Nicole Susan Valentine

  • Activity of glutathione-ascorbate cycle enzymes in the cycad-cyanobacterial symbiosis by Eric William Van Baak

  • Spatial and Temporal Organization of Neurogenesis in the Zebrafish Retina by Ulagammai Venkat

  • Newly Formed Neurons in Adult Cichlids by Katherine Michaela Voorhees

  • Inhibition of transcription of the apoptotic gene EGR1 by the bromodomain protein Brd4 by William Nelson Voss

  • Dorsal-ventral patterning and cell proliferation in the vertebrate retina by Audrey Miller Williams

  • Sigma E-Dependent Pathway Mediates Inhibition of LEE Virulence by Zinc by Yuan Xue

  • The Search for an Ideal SERM: Towards the Design and Synthesis of a Novel Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator by Rachel G. C. Yahn

  • Enhanced Drought Tolerance in vtc2-transgenic Poplars by Phoebe Allegra Long Young