PhD Thesis Book

Once the content of my PhD thesis had been taken care of, I spent some time creating a concept for the cover and the interior design which would reflect the thesis matter, but with a personal touch. The page layout and typesetting was done with \LaTeX, and the illustrations for e.g. the cover and the chapter title pages were done in watercolors and then scanned and touched up digitally. The result is a PDF file counting 264 pages in thesis format (17 x 24 cm, ~81% of A4).

The front cover was meant to be an abstract representation of the life cycle of the interstellar medium (though feel free to interpret it differently!). In the printed version, both black and white circles on the cover contain an embossed spiral as a subtle detail.

The back cover is a personal piece, making use of the same colors as the front.

The color scheme of six colors plus (near) black & white is continued throughout the rest of the book, with a different one assigned to each chapter. The colored chapter tabs on the side of each page make for a lovely color gradient on the edge when the book is closed. The near-black and white are used for contrast on both the chapter title facing pages and the part title facing pages. Also the inside of the cover is near-black. This not only gives it an interesting look, but also makes it stand out from most other astronomy theses, that tend to have predominantly black covers with standard white insides.

The flap on the front cover contains a short summary of the thesis content (see below), and the back flap has a brief biography.


Thesis content

PART I. Observational evidence suggests that some very large supermassive black holes (SMBHs) already existed less than 1 Gyr after the Big Bang. It is quite a challenge to explain the formation and growth of these SMBHs. Here, we explore the formation of their ‘seeds’ in the direct collapse scenario, using both 3D hydrodynamical simulations and a one-zone model to investigate the impact of turbulence, rotation, UV radiation field and magnetic fields.

PART II. Feedback processes from stars and black holes shape the interstellar medium (ISM) out of which new generations of luminous objects form. Understanding the properties of these objects, e.g. the stellar initial mass function, requires knowledge of the chemical and thermodynamical properties of the feedback-regulated ISM. To gain a better understanding of the chemo-thermal state and fragmentation behavior of gas in high-redshift galaxies, we develop a computational code, PDR-Zz, and use it to systematically explore the overall impact of various feedback effects, both radiative and chemical, on gas in different physical regimes.


Thesis PDF

The links in the PDF file, e.g. the table of contents and references, are functional; however, they don’t work in the embedded file below. Click here to view or download the fully linked and bookmarked file.


Design elements

This is the full cover for the thesis book, with flaps in the front and back:

PhD Thesis Cover Jacket


This is some of the content created for the thesis, including the invitation (styled as a bookmark), propositions, and elements for the part and chapter page spreads (click to view a larger version):


You can download the slides of the (Powerpoint) presentation for my thesis here.