The Reed Thesis

During your final year, you will plunge headlong into an intellectual adventure—the senior thesis. Undertaken with support from a Reed professor, the thesis is your opportunity to explore a problem or answer a question that holds particular significance to you.

photo of rows of theses from the thesis tower balcony

Reed theses represent an incredible range of topics, from the Republic of Plato to the music videos of Beyoncé (see examples below). Students work in close consultation with their thesis adviser to ensure steady progress throughout the year. Your thesis, which will be permanently housed in the Thesis Tower, may be the most challenging thing you have ever done—certainly it will be the most rewarding. You will never forget the experience, nor lose the confidence it builds.

Recent Theses

A photo of Nguyen Ngoc Yen Nhi

Equity and Graduation Rates in Higher Education
International and comparative policy studies major Nguyễn Ngọc Yến Nhi ’22 explored why college enrollment rates are high in the U.S. but graduation rates lag behind.

Photo of Anesu Ndoro holding a mbira.

Blackness, Belonging, and the GOP
Anthropology major Anesu Ndoro ’21 examined how Black conservatives navigate status and belonging in the Republican party, and how this is tied to their views on Black family-making practices in the United States.

Photo of Eva Licht wearing golden laurels

Using Theatre to Make Science Better
Biology-theatre major Eva Licht ’21 combined her love of biology and theatre to create a thesis production exploring diversity and inclusion in the sciences.

Elizabeth Bishop

Tone of Voice in the Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop
English Major Kelly Wenzka ’22 won the Unrue Award for her thesis, in which she developed a new definition of tone of voice and applied it to three of Elizabeth Bishop's poems.

photo of Meaza Abate

Juggling Algorithms
Computer science major Meaza Abate ’18 explored how computers run multiple programs at once—and developed a language to demonstrate her ideas.

Photo of Zesean Moiz Ali.jpeg

Curing Disease with Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Chemistry major Zesean Moiz Ali ’20 extracted and purified biologically active elements from lion’s mane mushrooms to explore their potential in treating Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and stroke.

A photo of Ashlee Fox

A Law and Economics Argument for Tribal Sovereignty
Economics major Ashlee Fox ’19 argued that the Supreme Court must recognize the Muscogee as a sovereign nation in the Carpenter v. Murphy case.

A photo of Hayden Hendersen holding a recycling bin.

Plant-Based School Lunch for the Planet
Environmental studies-political science major Hayden Hendersen ’20 reimagined how school lunch is served, proposing a way to serve plant-based and vegan meals that kids want to eat.


The Art of Holding Radical Dinner Parties
Studio art major Sherry Xinyue Chiang ’22 examined the radical resistance of preparing and serving meals to immigrants and refugee families in the United States.

A painting depicting the Polish-Lithuanian army attacking a Crimean Tatar war camp in 1624.

Raiders of the Black Sea Steppe
History major Achinoam Bentov ’20 studied the struggle for control of the Black Sea Steppe in the late 1400s and how this battle for dominance shaped the state system still governing European power relations today.

A photo of Andrey Marsavin sitting on the steps of a porch.

Where There's Smoke
Environmental studies major Andrey Marsavin ’21 developed an innovative way to measure pollutants in wildfire smoke.


Plastic-Eating Germs
Biology major Morgan Vague ’18 isolated three strains of bacteria that consume a type of plastic known as PET, opening up the possibility of using microorganisms to fight pollution.

Photo of Ally Watson holding drumsticks.

How Language Distinguishes Us
Linguistics major Ally Watson ’19 studied the replacement of the Arabic r with the French r and how this affected French-oriented identity in Lebanon.