• Harry Gray and Ayush Gupta
    Credit: Courtesy of the Caltech Library
  • (From left to right): Rosemary Choate, Kristin Antelman, Ayush Gupta, and Harry Gray
    Credit: Courtesy of the Caltech Library

Gupta Receives Library Friends' Thesis Prize

Senior Ayush Gupta has been named as the winner of this year's Library Friends' Senior Thesis Prize. The Thesis Prize, established in 2010, is intended to encourage undergraduates to complete a formal work of scholarship as a capstone project for their undergraduate career and to recognize sophisticated in-depth use of library and archival research. For their achievement, recipients of the $1,200 prize are listed in the commencement program. This year's prizes were announced and awarded at a reception at Alumni House on Tuesday, June 1, with students, alumni, Friends of the Caltech Libraries, library staff, and faculty present.

Gupta's thesis was titled "Noncovalent Immobilization of Electrocatalysts on Carbon Electrodes via a Pyrenyl Ligand" and he completed the work under the supervision of his advisor, Harry Gray, the Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and Founding Director of the Beckman Institute. Gray remarked that Gupta "has developed into an independent investigator, cleverly and adeptly using library resources."

"I began my research in Harry Gray's group during the spring of 2013 and I quickly became interested in looking into catalysis for the production of solar fuels," Gupta says. "My first project expanded into what I have been working on for the past three years, focusing on attaching molecular catalysts to graphitic electrodes. Attaching catalysts to electrode surfaces is one route to easily assemble devices that can convert renewable energy, like solar, into chemical fuels."

"Writing a thesis that encompasses all of my research at Caltech was a daunting task," he says. "Luckily, I was able to combine many of the smaller reports I had completed as a part of the SURF program and then further elaborate on those topics in my thesis. Another challenge was finding ways to blend in all the various parts of my research into a cohesive narrative, but I was able to get a lot of help both from my advisor Harry Gray and my supervisor James Blakemore."

Gupta will be attending the University of Chicago in the fall to begin work on a PhD in chemistry.

Caltech faculty nominate seniors whose theses they deem to be deserving of the prize. Nominated students then supply a research narrative that explains their research methodology, detailing not only the sources they used but the way they obtained access to them.

Other finalists for the prize were Kurtis Carsch, nominated by Professor Theodor Agapie for his thesis in chemistry; Harinee Maiyuran, nominated by Professor Steven Quartz for her thesis in history and philosophy of science; and Monica Li, nominated by Professor Beverly McKeon for her thesis in aerospace.

Written by Lori Dajose