Graduate student finishes her thesis with proud mama photos: 'Longest labor ever'

Georgia grad student Sarah Whelan Curtis "birthed" her epigenetics thesis and is sharing photos of her "newborn." (Photo: Twitter/Sarah W. Curtis)

A grad school student delivered her genetics thesis, a "labor" of love, with proud photos styled like a newborn shoot.

Sarah Whelan Curtis, 26, a graduate student at Emory University in Atlanta Georgia, just submitted her four-year-long thesis on epigenetics, the study of how gene regulation changes, independent of the DNA sequence. Before her June 14th defense, Curtis previewed her accomplishment on Twitter.

“Yes, I did a photo shoot with my thesis. Longest labor ever,” Curtis tweeted Monday with three photos of herself wrapping the 183-page masterpiece around her stomach, gazing down at the document wrapped in a pink-and-blue blanket, and a portrait of her swaddled “baby.”

Curtis tells Yahoo Lifestyle that her biological clock is a light-hearted family concern. “I have a lot of nieces and nephews, and my mom told me, ‘Either get a PhD. or give me a grandchild,” she says. “I got my doctorate.”

Curtis’s grad school peers tweeted, “Congratulations! I am into the 66th month of labor and expecting soon,” and “Is the baby and mom healthy and safe? I am about to undergo a labor in a few months from now.” A few students posted exhausted-looking photos of themselves clutching their “babies.”

The photos are choreographed as “all the maternity shoots on my social media feed,” says Curtis, and a spur-of-the-moment decision when filing her thesis on Friday. Curtis told her husband of our years about the idea, then dug out a baby blanket she had crocheted for her niece (due in September) for realism.

Next week, Curtis defends her work in an open-to-the-public forum. “It’s my cold sweat moment,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Having written her thesis in only four years (students in her program typically finish within five-and-a-half years), Curtis is applying for post-doctorate positions in Georgia.

“I’ll be studying the genetics of both epilepsy and cranial facial defects,” she says. “Babies are not on my mind right now.”

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