Honors in SISP

Forms, Information & Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I earn Honors or High Honors in Science in Society? 

Candidates for Honors in SISP must submit a thesis by the University’s deadline, and must have maintained an average grade of 88.3 (B+) or better in Wesleyan courses that are cross-listed with the Science in Society Program to earn Honors or High Honors (as evaluated by faculty). Theses submitted as a candidate for departmental Honors in SISP must comply with all the regulations of the University Honors Program. Truly exceptional theses may be nominated for University Honors.

What form do I need to submit to the Science in Society Program to pursure a honors thesis? 

By May 1 in the spring semester, complete and email the Honors Thesis Form to the Program’s Administrative Assistant Meghan Demanchyk mdemanchyk@wesleyan.edu. Tutors will communicate with their prospective honors students about the outcome of this form submission and administrative process. 

Students that do not complete the form by May 1 are strongly discouraged from pursuing a thesis the following academic year. 

***Note for members of the Class of 2023: We apologize for announcing these updates relatively late in the spring semester of your junior year, but we are doing so to try to clarify and democratize our processes. 

What is a thesis?

A thesis is an advanced and independent research project that results from two semesters of honors thesis tutorials (SISP 409 and 410) taken with an appropriate faculty tutor during the senior year. Students should consult both the Wesleyan Jellybean Papers for important information on thesis structure and formatting as well as prior theses, many of which are contained in Wesleyan’s Digital Collections. SISP theses normally address topics that are grounded in the student’s areas of concentration, and the course work in the Program which the student has completed prior to undertaking the thesis project at the beginning of the senior year, although additional relevant courses during the senior year are also encouraged. To write a thesis, each student needs a tutor.

Who is the thesis tutor and what do they do? 

The thesis tutor is a member of Wesleyan faculty who supervises the honors thesis process and is the instructor of record for thesis tutorial credits. It is the student’s responsibility to identify, consult with, and query prospective tutors from the  SISP core or affiliated faculty. Faculty outside the core and affiliate of SISP can serve as tutors in cases where the faculty member has relevant area expertise and can counsel with SISP faculty (who must serve as readers in any case). Tutors must be identified and confirmed before May 1 when the form is due. 

Juniors who think they might want to pursue a thesis should discuss possible topics with one or more members of the SISP core and affiliate faculty during the fall and early (Jan-Feb) spring of the junior year in order to assess their preparation for advanced research in that area, to refine their conception of a possible topic, and to begin considering who might be a suitable faculty tutor. 

Visiting professors cannot serve as tutors in SISP. All faculty must carefully balance their commitments to honors candidates. We strongly advise students to contact prospective tutors early in the process so that faculty can have time to discern their individual priorities and collective equities around thesis advising. Please do not contact faculty in the days just prior to May 1 asking them to review your last minute proposals and, possibly, serve as tutors. Faculty do not receive additional financial compensation for serving as tutors or readers, although they do earn a kind of professional currency in the domain of teaching and advising. It is a labor of love. This process should not be entered lightly on the part of the student or the prospective tutor.

Who is the thesis reader and what do they do? 

Tutors and the honors candidate should select two additional members of the Wesleyan faculty to serve as thesis readers. Once written, each thesis will be read by the tutor (who presumably has already reviewed the thesis carefully) and two additional faculty readers; at least one of the three faculty associated with the thesis must be a member of the SISP faculty (core or affiliate). 

Readers are asked to provide a generous and substantive reading of the thesis and have some scholarly expertise relevant to it. We ask that readers offer students a written response and/or oral feedback on the thesis when time and energies permit. These reports might be 500-1000 words and resemble a friendly and constructive scholarly review. 

We ask that readers submit both a recommended grade and a recommended level of Honors assessment. All Wesleyan theses are evaluated for Honors in the following categories—High Honors, Honors, Credit (no honors), No Credit. These normally correlate with the standard grading categories (High Honors: A or A+; Honors: B+ or A-; Credit: B or lower passing grade; No Credit: failing grade). Readers will report their evaluations back to the Tutor and the Science in Society Program via the Honors Management System by the deadlines for that particular academic year (these change from year to year). 

If the two readers other than the tutor agree in their evaluation of the thesis, that settles the determination, and the tutor has no further role. If the two other readers disagree in their assessment, the tutor then makes the final determination, considering the tutor’s own assessment of the thesis as well as being informed by the two readers’ evaluations and their reasons for their evaluation. 

Should I write a thesis or not? 

There are tradeoffs involved in undertaking thesis research. A thesis displaces two of the courses a student might otherwise have taken during the senior year, when students are also best prepared to undertake advanced courses in the Program and in other departments. A thesis also requires the student to have done a significant proportion of their course work for the major before the senior year begins, in order to be prepared to do advanced research. Students whose concentration is provided by a second major in a scientific discipline are normally best prepared to undertake thesis research that takes significant advantage of their scientific background. 

We also strongly recommend that students take time to visit the library (in person or via Digital Collections) to read past theses in Science in Society which are listed by year, author, and title below. Physical copies of some SISP theses can be found in the Program’s office in Allbritton Hall. 

Does Science in Society offer a 1-semester senior essay? 


Does Science in Society offer a 1-semester independent study? 

Yes, but there’s an emphasis on the independent part. You should contact individual faculty to inquire about their interest and willingness to supervise an independent study in SISP. In WesMaps, these correspond to SISP 401 for fall and SISP 402 for spring semester. Only the most proactive and engaged students should undertake these courses because they are student-driven and meant to be largely independent. These are rare, but possible, especially for a motivated student who does not necessarily wish to write a thesis.  

Does a thesis fulfill a capstone experience in SISP? 

Yes, it does. SISP majors can also complete their capstone in SISP by a) enrolling and completing any 300-level seminar in SISP or b) completing an independent study in SISP. 

I'm a double major. Can I do a thesis in both departments? 

Yes, but these theses also require advanced planning and coordination on the part of the student and their tutors. You must pursue honors in each program or department independently, while only submitting ONE thesis for both. Please consult closely with prospective tutors while considering this option and know that honors rules may be different in both departments. You may choose to pursue honors in one of your majors and not the other.  

Can I study abroad and write a thesis? 

Yes, but it requires advanced preparation and diligence. SISP majors who study abroad in junior year are not prohibited from writing a thesis, but they may face additional challenges in connecting with faculty, filling out forms, etc. and should plan accordingly. 

What do I do during Pre-Registration and Drop/Add about the thesis? 

During pre-registration in the second semester of junior year (spring), prospective candidates should enroll in a full course load for the fall (what will be the first semester of the senior year) even if you plan to undertake a thesis. 

During drop/add in fall and spring semesters of senior year, honors candidates must add a 1-credit thesis tutorial (SISP 409 for fall and SISP 410 for spring). These can be found in WesMaps. Your tutor will guide you through that process. By enrolling in these tutorial credits with the explicit approval of the tutor and the Chair of the Science in Society Program, a student becomes an honors candidate.

What do I do in the summer before senior year? 

Honors candidates should consult with their tutors to draw up a preliminary plan of reading and research to be undertaken over the summer. Faculty do not supervise or offer tutorials over the summer; students are free to pursue their interests over the summer whether or not they are related to their thesis. Most students do not work on their theses over the summer, although background reading and preparations are highly encouraged. Students may also pursue summer funding for their research. 

Can I get funding for senior thesis research? 

Yes. There are opportunities for funding independent honors thesis research that SISP students have pursued over the years. Please note: If you wish to apply for a funding grant, you will need to craft a proposal and find a tutor very in time to meet grant deadlines. Check the websites for these different opportunities if you wish to apply for funding support. Students should also check with their SISP major advisors and prospective tutors for other opportunities. 

Research Fellowships in the Sciences

Davenport Study Grant 

Olin Fellowship 

Center the Humanities Student Fellowship 

My thesis might involve human subjects and require IRB review and approval. What should I do?

If you plan to conduct research that includes human subjects, please note that you must submit your proposal to the campus Institutional Review Board (IRB) for ethical review. Consult with your tutor for more details on your specific case. The purpose of the IRB is to provide a comprehensive standard of protection for human subjects involved in research. Your project may, in the end, be exempt from review, but all honors candidates should be aware of its historical importance, institutional processes and deadlines nonetheless. See their website for more information and important deadlines. 

How do I format and submit my thesis?

All honors theses must be submitted to the Honors Thesis Management System in WesPortal by 4pm on a date determined annually by the Wesleyan Honors Program. The thesis must be properly structured and formatted according to the criteria outlined in the Wesleyan Jellybean Papers and should follow the reference and citation formats most common in the disciplines in which they are writing. Candidates should also ask their two readers if they would like paper copies of the thesis. The Science in Society Program can help students with printing and binding costs. Each spring, the Chair of the Program will communicate with all candidates, tutors, and readers about relevant deadlines for that academic year. 

Should I place an embargo on my finished thesis?

Students should consult with their tutors about the tradeoffs involved in placing a temporary embargo on the digital publication of your thesis via Digital Collections. Students who intend on publishing some portion of their thesis in an academic journal or some other venue might benefit from an embargo by protecting their intellectual property and its development. 

What resources do Science in Society faculty recommend to me?

SISP faculty routinely direct their honors candidates to excellent resources for developing a thesis. Please consult with your tutor for additional guidance. 

A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian and John Grossman, University of Chicago Press, 1996.

How to write a BA Thesis by Charles Lipson, University of Chicago Press, 2005. 

How to write a Thesis by Umberto Eco (Translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina, MIT Press, 2015. 

2-2-1 Writing Method by Tanya Golosh-Boza (popular academic blog). 

I still have questions. What should I do?

First, take a breath. Remember that a thesis is entirely optional and therefore is not required for a fulfilling and meaningful experience at Wesleyan. Then, consider reaching out to SISP professors or the chair of the Program with your lingering questions. 


Senior Honors Theses, Since 1996




2021 “Indelible in the Hippocampus is the Laughter”: A Contextualization of the Kavanaugh Blasey Ford Hearings Rosa Munson-Blatt
2021 Technoscientific Quicksand: The Social Life of Pitocin Claudia Stagoff-Belfort
2020 Whose Schizophrenia Is It? An Intersectional Approach to Schizophrenia and Psychiatric Knowledge Melisa Olgun
2020 Reconstructing Forensic NarrativesHow Psychology and the Law Created the CSI Effect Brenda Fabiola Castaneda
2020 Emergent CorrespondenceA Materialist Interpretation of Formal Similarity Gwen Sorokin Freudenheim
2020 Moral InjuryThinking Beyond the Portraits of Victims and Perpetrators in Trauma Studies Ruth A. Chartoff
2020 Deferred FulfillmentEncountering Technoliberalism's Contradictions in the Logistics Warehouse Carina Bolaños Lewen
2020 A Tale of Two Hippies: The Making of MDMA and Psychedelic Characters Jules Matthew Chabot
2020 Coral Conservation in the Anthropocene through Underwater Photography and Epistemological Restructuring Alea Margaret Laidlaw
2019 Doctor I’m in Pain: A History of Pain Management, Advocacy Organizations, and U.S. Pain Legislation from 1970 to 2010 Eliana Kayla Donner-Klein
2019 Intervening into Social Reality: The Materiality of Performance in the Performance of the Material Samuel James Morreale
2019 Corrugated Cartographies: The Balikbayan Box and its Sociotechnical Networks Teresa Naval
2019 (Black) Midwifery Foreclosed: The Racialization and Medicalization of Childbirth Care, 1910s-1950s Olivia Budd Pearson
2019 The Nexus of Ecology and Warfare: Contamination, Wildlife, and Indigeneity at Military-to-Wildlife Refuge Conversions in New England Belen Rodriguez
2018 Reading the Hybrid Worlds of Augmented Reality: An Embodied Interface Approach William Sorokin Freudenheim
2018 Lost in Techno-translation: Diagnosing and Treating Cyborg Patients in Biomedical Practice Julia Taub Gordon
2018 Cultures of Nature: An Orchard's Tale Mira Dulany Guth
2018 Unpacking the Black Box of Ginseng Sarah Junghee Kang
2018 Moving Medicine: Theorizing Embodiment for a More Empowered and Connected Social Body  Gretchen Rhett LaMotte
2018 Divine Machines and Univocal Reason: Natural Philosophy Between Duns Scotus and Leibniz Julian Raskin Waddell
2018 Exploring Ecological Healing in a Settler Colonial Context: The Elwha River and Moses Prairie Restoration Projects Olivia Marie Won
2017 Whose Lyme is it Anyway?: Discursive Representations of Gender in Chronic Lyme Disease Emma Mendoza Broder
2017 Linked by Blood: Exploring Judaism and Genetics in the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo Jacob Maxwell Karlin
2017 Lying-In to Lying-Alone: The Loss of Women's Autonomy in the Birthing Room Sally Elisabeth Rappaport
2017 Making Moms: Production of Motherhood at Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Connecticut Jaya Sahihi
2016 Brain Based: Understanding Treatment, Evidence and Recovery in Neuroscience and Psychology Ari David Lewenstein
2016 The Development of Federal Vaccine Recommendations: An Examination of The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Eva Alyssa Weintraub
2015 Doctors Without Answers: Limits, Challenges, and Dilemmas of Humanitarian (Bio)medicine, and Doctors Without Borders Paul McCallion
2015 Towards a Holistic Understanding of Obesity among African American Women Adin Vaewsorn
2014 An Itinerary for Going Nowhere Stratton Coffman
2014 Situating Place Cells in Ecologically Embodied Cognition William Fraker
2014 Wife of Scientist: The Gender, Science and Political Identity of Ava Helen Pauling Olivia May
2013 Counting Calories and Considering Contexts Maxwell Hellmann
2013 Transforming the Cultural Landscape Codi Leitner
2013 The Ecology of Invasions and The Invasions of Ecology Bennett Kirschner
2012 Pharmaceutical Technologies of Self, or The Age of Ambien Charles Hanna
2012 The Impact of Novel Products on Federal Drug Regulations Erin Kelly
2012 The Early History of Chiropractic Thomas Oddo
2011 Thinking Through the Lens: Reframing Experiences of Breast Cancer Taylor Cain
2011 Embracing Complexity: AModest Pluralism@ and the Future of American Psychiatry Benjamin Fuchs
2011 Djinn and Tonic: A Study of Health Care and Healing in Coastal Kenya Alix Haber
2011 Private Matters for the Public Good: The Dispensary Movement in 18th C. England Barbara Pohl
2011 Redesigning Masculinity in the Pursuit of Public Health  Sophia Sadinsky
2010 Debating Contraception, Defining Motherhood: Women, Doctors, and the State in the Politics of Birth Control Leah Aronowsky
2010 Discipline and the Care for Nature Benjamin Weisgall
2009 A Critical History of Mindfulness-Based Psychology David J. Gordon
2008 Reform and Perpetuation in Mind-Body Medicine Adam Baim
2008 Unraveling the Hawthorne Effect: An Experimental Artifact >Too Good to Die= Rebecca Broches
2008 Intervening In Complexity: A Developmental Theory of Climate Change  Emily Rowan
2008 Resistance to Dam Nation (Environmental Politics in Panama) Jeffrey Stein
2007 Scientific Words Lost and Found: Public Networks and the Making of the Oxford English Dictoionary Emily Rosenberger
2007 Modeling DNA Mismatch Repair Lillian Walkover
2005 The History of Malaria Control in West Africa Lee Grodi
2004 Trans/scendence: Ethical Possibility in Intersex Management Brittany Allen
2002 Victims of Insight Manic Depression, Honesty and the Artistic Disposition Jessica Bohl
2002 A Healthy Baby or a Nice Experience: The Imposed Choice in American Birth Vanessa Stubbs
2001 An Epidemic of Meaning: HIV/AIDS and the Social Constructions of Woman Talia Inlender
2001 Visions of Cloning in Newspapers, 1978-Present Jacob Kattan
2001 More Than Kin and Less Than Kind: Thomas Jefferson and Eden Robins
1999 Ethical Considerations for Germ-Line Genetic Modification Chad  Bartell
1999 Exhibiting Sperm: Visualization and Reproductive Sciences Christine Hanssmann
1999 Re-Defining Boundaries: Re-Naturalizing Arthriti(c)s Jennifer Karlin
1999 Doctoring Medicine: Six Doses of Physician-Activism Margo Simon
1997 Funding Strategies in Agricultural Science Sarah Osterhoudt
1996 Representations of the Ovaries in Writings on Menopause Aruna Chandran
1996 Information Technology in Non-Profit Organizations Adam Roessler
1996 Ren Tai Duo (AToo Many People@)--Population Science in China) Sigrid Schmalzer