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Words of Encouragement to Thesis Students

The following words come from STEM-Writing Associate, Airlie Rose, immediately after students were moved off campus and labs during a critical point of the semester. Even though this message was written for a particular moment that has passed now that thesis students are in the final stretch of their thesis, we are publishing it on the Amherst STEM Network to other undergraduates more insight into the thesis process.

Given the unexpected end to your lab work, you may feel anxious and unclear about how to shape what you have done into a satisfying thesis. Faced with nothing but writing to do and the bizarre circumstances we are living through, you may be tempted to put writing your thesis on a back-burner. However, writing will be easier if you keep the momentum going and dive-in while your lab work is still fresh in your mind. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to, at least, write the methods section this week while you still remember the details. Feel free to make an appointment with me to help you get over the hump of starting.

Even in the best-of-times, research rarely goes the way we expect. The transition from lab work to full-time writing is often a slow, giving-up-on dreams that students and mentors negotiate between mid-March and early April. It is the nature of undergraduate research – even without a pandemic virus bringing the process to a sudden halt. I have helped many students work through their feelings of disappointment and find a greater appreciation for what they have accomplished. No matter how far along they were when they had to stop, students I’ve worked with in the past have always been able to get through the lab-to-writing transition and complete a satisfying thesis.

If you have not worked with me before, I have a strong scientific background. I am able to “talk science,” and I enjoy learning about students’ projects and the amazing research happening at Amherst. I’m hoping that these odd circumstances might give me a window into the work of labs on campus that I have not worked with before. I hope you will give me a chance to learn about your project.


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