When I first walked through the doors of Theodore Sedgwick Wright Library at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) on a sweltering September day a few weeks ago, I was struck by three things: the great size of the library, the small number of students there, and its remarkably-strong air conditioning. As I set my things down and cooled off in a quiet study area, I began to work on an assignment for one of my classes. My gratitude for the engineers who designed the building’s cooling system was quickly superseded by my admiration for those who worked together to produce the largest theological library in America and the second largest in the world after the Vatican Library in Rome.
Theodore Sedgwick Wright Library is the main library at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Imagine that you’ve been working on a research project for months. Now you’re standing in front of a crowd of professors, some of which probably know more about your topic than you do. If you do research working in an academic department, it can be a stressful experience if you have to eventually present your work to that department. Trying to talk about what you’ve done with your own adviser can be enough sometimes, and showing work that you may not be 100% comfortable with for a whole crowd of professors is a whole new level of daunting. They all have years of experience and may know more about aspects of your presentation than you do, so trying to seem like you know what you’re talking about while possibly being asked questions far out of your depth may seem impossible for an undergraduate to do.
Nonetheless, whether it’s theses, JPs, internships, or summer projects, all undergraduates here are going to find themselves in this position. So how do you do it?
I’ve always loved reading through senior thesis titles and thinking “Wow, that’s clever,” “That’s genius,” “I wonder how they came up with that.” The senior thesis, which many seniors refer to as a full-blown novel, is supposed to be a senior’s finest work and proudest possession. It looks impressive in its black book with gold font. It is 115 pages. It has fancy acknowledgments. As a first-year/sophomore, and even as a high schooler on tour, I was in awe at how seniors could create such a perfect paper. It isn’t until now that I know the answer: hard work.
From March 19 to 22, 2023, I was at the 13th U.S. National Combustion Meeting presenting a research poster. My work was titled, “Deep Learning Modeling of the Filtered Generalized Progress Variable Dissipation Rate in Turbulent Premixed Combustion”. In my junior year, as I was planning what to work on for my thesis and what goals I hoped to attain, I determined that I wanted to go the extra mile in my research, enough to be able to go to an academic conference. With some hard work, the patient guidance of my adviser Prof. Michael Mueller, the support from my labmates at the Computational Turbulent Reacting Flow Lab, and the funding from several sources (MAE, CST, OUR, and ACEE), I was able to attend this conference! This was my first research conference, and I cannot overstate how valuable this experience has been to my growth as a researcher.
Spring is always a rollercoaster of a semester. We have just about 6 more weeks of school before spring classes are over! Before you know it, you will be a senior and will have to start thinking about the big T – thesis. I recommend you take a little bit of time to think about your thesis – maybe you’ve already started after reading Ryan’s great post around choosing a topic. You don’t have to have all of the answers right away, but at least you would already have given it a bit of thought and let your ideas brew at the back of your mind.
Senior thesis. Senior thesis. Senior thesis. By this time of year, you have most likely heard seniors in the middle of the night at Firestone or at Coffee Club study breaks, thinking about, stressing about, and working on their senior thesis. In my last post, I wrote about one of the first and most important steps of the senior thesis process, choosing the right adviser (see here). Now, I walk through what I believe to be another pivotal moment for the senior thesis process: choosing a topic. For SPIA majors and presumably for many other majors as well, it may seem difficult to narrow down your project to one specific topic when the major is so broad and diverse. Throughout my time at Princeton, I have taken classes in law, environmental policy, psychology, economics, ethics and more, and I enjoyed them all. But, I eventually had to choose one topic to write a full thesis on. So, without further ado, here are some steps on choosing the right topic for you.
Everyone has heard of the spooky ~senior thesis~ since the second that they stepped on campus for their official Princeton tour. It may feel far away at the time, but trust me, coming from a second semester senior, it comes around quicker than you expect. I am currently in the writing process, but it has been a long journey even getting to this point. Surprisingly, though, I have loved writing my thesis. It does not feel like work because it is a topic that I am truly passionate about. My goal for my final PCUR posts is to walk you through my thesis journey to hopefully make you feel better about yours. This post will start with one of the first steps of the thesis process: finding an adviser.
As this is posted, many Princeton students are hard at work on their senior theses. Some are on campus right now participating in the residential colleges’ wintersession Senior Thesis Bootcamps. PCURs over the years have written extensively on this very important Princeton milestone. Browse through the posts below if you’ll be writing your thesis soon, are writing it right now, or maybe should be writing now.
Where can you find trinkets Albert Einstein collected in Japan, diaries and manuscripts by Toni Morrison, and an autographed manuscript of The Great Gatsby? None other than our very own Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library of course! Welcome to the wonderful world of one of Princeton’s coolest resources: Firestone special collections. Basically, it contains anything in the University’s possession that is rare, valuable, and/or too old and fragile to be removed from the library. I learned about special collections recently through my AAS 244 class on Pre-20th Century Black Diaspora Art in which we often check out art and related manuscripts in the special collections.
“Did I include a scholarly conversation? Where is the motive of my piece? Do I even have a thesis?!” The “Submit” button on Canvas can stir worrisome thoughts as it may seem permanent or stressful. The goal of this post is to walk you through a few final steps you can take to ensure that everything is in check and ready to go, so that you don’t feel like something is missing once turning in your assignment. These points are by no means the end all be all, but you may use them to help you feel more confident handing in your final product. Thus, without further ado, here are 3 final steps to follow before submitting your research paper.