Senior Thesis Workshop

An honors thesis is one of the capstones of an undergraduate education. Working usually in close collaboration with a faculty member, you undertake original research that draws upon the topical knowledge and research skills you have developed in the MBB program. This research is the most important contribution you can make to the study of mind/brain/behavior.

An important related activity is sharing your research with the scholarly community. The MBB Program offers both un-structured and structured interactions with fellow thesis writers and seasoned researchers. In addition to the informal, course-based, and laboratory-related contacts with faculty and fellow students, the Program holds a required, non-credit series of small group discussions for thesis writers. These meetings will allow you to report your thesis findings and discuss them with your fellow MBB thesis writers, as well as provide feedback to your peers as you learn about their work. By listening to each other, you will also learn about the other areas in mind/brain/behavior, some quite different in topic and approach from that of your own thesis. Finally, these thesis discussion groups will also be a forum to explore and examine wider issues, from MBB-related issues, topics, and research to communicating science and developing the writing, creative, and speaking skills to do so effectively.

2016-2017 Workshops Schedule

Introductory Meeting
  -Thursday 13 October, 4 p.m., William James Hall B1 (basement auditorium)

Fall Meetings for Section One (Pedro de Abreu)
  -Wednesday 26 October, 3 p.m., Northwest Building B109
  -Wednesday 16 November, 3 p.m., Northwest Building B109

Fall Meetings for Section Two (Mariam Dahbi)
  -Tuesday 25 October, 4 p.m., William James Hall B6 (basement seminar room)
  -Thursday 17 November, 2 p.m., Bauer Laboratories G001

Fall Meetings for Section Three (Jenna Kotler)
  -Tuesday 25 October, 4 p.m., William James Hall B6 (basement seminar room)
  -Tuesday 15 November, 3 p.m., Northwest Building B110

Optional Skills Meeting: Chart and Graph Software, Reference Software (Dorothy Barr, Research Librarian and Molecular and Cellular Biology Liaison, Ernst Mayr Library; and Hugh Truslow, Head of Social Science and Visualization Harvard College Libraries)
  -Friday 18 November 2 p.m., William James 305

Optional Skills Workshop: Thesis Writing (Sheila Reindl, Associate Director, Bureau of Study Counsel)
  -Friday 3 February, 4 p.m., William James Hall 350

Spring Meetings will take place after thesis submission, and seniors will be emailed to section after spring break.

2016-2017 Workshop Leaders

De Abreu Photo Pedro de Abreu,
My research interest revolves around four areas about which I am deeply passionate: identity, motivation, achievement, and group difference — the last of which includes topics related to social justice, equality, stigma, inter and intra-group relations. I am interested in how those areas interact with each other and the powerful research questions that come from such interactions. For example, what is the relationship between mindset inclinations and instances of successful rehabilitation in the juvenile detention system? To what extent does the internalization of growth mindset practices help decelerate collective as well as individual transgressive behavior? What parts of our identity do we unknowingly express as a function of our social standing? In a Lewinian fashion, I am equally interested in theory-based interventions that can help alleviate pressing societal issues. As much as I am committed to social psychology, I am also committed to education. I find home in the cross-fertilization of ideas from different fields. I plan to use tools from the social, behavioral, and brain sciences in order to build theory that helps answer such questions and in order to devise interventions that help society’s most vulnerable. I am very grateful to have such fruitful relationship with Harvard University. I direct the Artificial Intelligence, Brain, and Cognitive Sciences thematic within The Future Society at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (link), facilitate senior thesis workshops with groups of bright and dedicated Mind, Brain, Behavior Harvard College seniors (link), work as a Co-Instructor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for a Spring course on technology, learning, and motivation theory (link), and as a Teaching Fellow for a Fall course on the introduction of statistics for research (link), and for a Spring and Fall course on financial management for non-profit organizations (link). I also facilitate different programs at Harvard and work at the Phillips Brooks House as a temporary Department Administrator. I have worked in research, administration, and also in business, for-profit and non-profit, as an entrepreneur. I have been fortunate to have won awards such as the Harvard University Leadership in Education Award and the Coca-Cola Foundation and the USA Today New Century Scholar Award. As a Magellan and Walker Institute Scholar, I travelled to the Amazon, Brazil, in order to assist the Anna Frank House with measuring the changes in leadership dispositions of students as they became peers guides in the Anna Frank traveling exhibits. I love volunteering and mentoring. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Central Midlands Council of Governments, tutor pro-bono, and volunteer at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and in different youth organizations. I have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Economics with high honors and special distinction in research from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina and a Master’s degree in the interdisciplinary Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. In my free time, I enjoy reading philosophy, poetry, classical studies in social, developmental, and cognitive psychology and neuroscience, fiction, and non-fiction. My favorite poets are Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Drummond De Andrade, Fernando Pessoa, T. S. Eliot, Arthur Rimbaud, Emily Dickinson, and Wallace Stevens. I also enjoy having deep conversations with friends, volunteering, traveling, cycling, running, listening to music, playing soccer, playing chess, and writing.

Dahbi Photo Mariam Dahbi,
I am a first-year PhD in Education candidate at Harvard University with a concentration in Human Development, Learning and Teaching. As a Masters student and later Teaching Fellow at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, I immersed myself in the foundations of language and literacy development and built strong skills in educational research. I then joined the Cabinet of the Moroccan Minister of National Education and Vocational Training. I am interested in improving quality education in settings as culturally rich and linguistically diverse as the Moroccan one. Specifically, I would like to investigate ways to better bridge children’s native languages (in Morocco, Moroccan Arabic and Amazigh), and the school languages (in Morocco, Modern Standard Arabic, and soon French and English), and use technology to optimize children’s learning in remote areas. My areas of interest thus involve multilingual education, language and literacy development and instruction, and educational technology.

Kotler Photo Jennifer Kotler,
I am broadly interested in evolutionary medicine, which is the application of evolutionary theory to our current understanding of health and disease. Specifically, my doctoral work examines the evolutionary implications of parent-offspring conflict, with a focus on genomic imprinting and fetal/maternal microchimerism. I am currently working towards understanding these phenomena from a behavioural, psychological, and biological perspective. I believe that there are a lot of scientific gains to be at the intersections of fields, and the only way to successfully pursue interdisciplinary work is to establish strong scientific communication skills. Without an ability to communicate about our work, not only will we close doors for scientific advancement between disciplines, but we will also occlude evidence-based policy advancements at the national and global levels.