Senior Thesis Colloquium Showcases Diverse Approaches to East Asian Studies

February 19, 2020

Emma Toh sits in front of a projector screen on which complicated line graphs can be seen.
Emma Toh, allied concentrator in EAS and Statistics, presents her research on the rise of single-family households in Korea.


On Thursday, February 14th, twelve seniors in the EAS concentration gathered to present their thesis research to an audience of faculty, staff, and fellow students. Limited to ten minutes apiece, these presentations challenged thesis writers to condense complex topics and convey their research findings to an audience with diverse backgrounds.

Indeed, diversity was a key feature of this year’s Colloquium. Many of the presenters are pursuing allied concentrations with EAS and other departments, including Government, Philosophy, Social Studies, History, Earth and Planetary Science, Anthropology, and Statistics. This varied lineup reflects a growing trend among Harvard undergraduates: combining EAS with other fields in order to create a well-rounded yet highly specialized concentration.

Attendees of the Colloquium expressed surprise at the multitude of topics on display, ranging from a study of Singapore’s healthcare system, to Dōgen’s view of morality and the self, to urban planning in Lingang, a Chinese “ghost city,” to a 3D petroleum systems evolutionary model of the Qaidam Basin in China. One presenter, Yong-Han Poh, also organized an Exhibition connected with her thesis work through the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Life in Singapore: Views from Migrant Workers will be displayed in the Asian Centers’ Lounge of CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge St. through Thursday, February 20.

A complete list of participants and their thesis topics (in order of presentation) can be viewed below.


Yong-Han, left, stands looking at the audience in front of her powerpoint screen as Nicole Newendorp, right, introduces her.
Professor Nicole Newendorp introduces her advisee, Yong-Han Poh.

Josh Grossman stands to the left, gesturing to his Powerpoint, which shows a subsurface contour map of the Qaidam basin
Josh Grossman explains the process of locating sources of natural gas in the Qaidam basin.


Sonia Kim, advised by Carter Eckert and Sunjik Yang: “Contemporary Koryo Saram: Between South Korea and the Post-Soviet Space.”

Angie Cui, advised by Nara Dillon and Austin Strange: “Edu-plomacy with Chinese Characteristics: International Higher Education Exchange and Public Diplomacy along China’s Belt and Road Initiative.”

Adeline Choo, advised by Nara Dillon and Josh Freedman: “Understanding Regime Type and Disease Burden: a Case Study of Singapore’s Healthcare System.”

Alyssa Resar, advised by Iain Johnston and Austin Jordan: “For Party or Homeland: An Analysis of Military Decision-making in China, Vietnam, India, and Pakistan.”

Nick Stauffer-Mason, advised by Nara Dillon and Saul Wilson: “China’s Ghost Cities and the Bureaucratic Politics of Urban Growth: Evidence from Lingang New City.”

Shivam Bhatt, advised by Andrew Gordon, Christina Davis, and Jesus Solis: “Innovation Nation: Finding the Mythical Japanese Unicorns.”

Yong-Han Poh, advised by Nicole Newendorp: “Love, Labor, Loss: Voices of Migrant Worker Poets and Storytellers in Singapore.”

Hillary McLauchlin, advised by Jie Li and Dingru Huang: “State of the Art: Contemporary Chinese Art in the Age of Surveillance.”

Alexander Zhang, advised by Jie Li and Shuang Lu Frost: “What is real? What is Fake? Transitional Chinese Hip-Hop Culture and the War of Authenticity.”

Josh Grossman, advised by John Shaw and Michael McElroy: “A Novel 3D Petroleum Systems Evolutionary Model of the Qaidam Basin in NW China, and its Implications for the Future of China’s Energy Economy.”

Emma Toh, advised by Paul Chang and In Jeong Hwang: “Home Alone: Understanding the Rise of Single-Person Households in South Korea.”

Esteban Flores, advised by James Robson and Sara Klingenstein: “Dōgen, Personal Identity and Morality.”


Esteban sits in front of a black powerpoint screen titled "Activating a Question." Wearing a suit, he gesticulates as he talks.
Esteban Flores presents on his topic, "Dōgen, Personal Identity, and Morality."