Speed Dating 101: Selecting a Thesis Reader

July 26, 2017
Will you be my thesis reader?

Year two is all about the thesis. I eagerly enrolled in Case Studies and Thesis Design fall quarter (not that I had a choice) with the excitement of my potential thesis project in the back of my mind. As the course started I knew I’d need to select a thesis reader. My first potential thesis involved a large data set of bird surveys and I had someone in mind, but the project fell through. So for a little while I panicked. Eventually one of my classmates hooked me up with the Port of Seattle and I’ve landed another wildlife based project, and the thesis reader I had in mind was still relevant, but was she the one for me?

Something I appreciate about MES are the diverse backgrounds of our faculty. Since the program is multidisciplinary and the students come from varying fields with a crop of different interests, we’re matched with a thesis reader that best fits our area of study. We learn about the core faculty throughout the first year as we interact with them in our core classes and electives. When it comes time to selecting our readers, we have a fairly clear idea of who will likely best serve our needs, but in case there are still lingering doubts, we are graced with a crash course lecture about their past research.

Birds of a feather work on a thesis together.A few of us found these biographical lectures similar to what would likely take place at a speed dating event. The faculty would present research they’ve worked on in the past and some of their strengths, and at our request, their weaknesses. It was a fantastic way to see how we paired up with our faculty.

Once all of our suitors had pitched their profiles, we selected our top three. I was torn between a pair of faculty with previous work in wildlife data analysis but I needed someone with a strong knowledge of birds. I cast my vote and waited with a sense of teenage angst. Would my top choice accept my request? It took a couple weeks but when the reply came back, it was exactly as I had hoped. Success! While I’m not sure if my reader enjoys long walks on the beach, piña coladas, or getting caught in the rain, I do know she is the right fit for me and my project.


Ryan Hobbs is a former MES Communications Assistant and a 2016 MES Graduate.