In the spring of 2015, Riley Smith completed his senior thesis on expectation and emotion in music. The paper covers topics ranging from auditory perception and memory to emotion theory and statistical probability. The goal of the thesis was to research the ways that listeners' expectations affect their emotional response to musical stimulation. 

 "Riley’s thesis 'Musical Expectation: Evoking Emotions Through Deception' is an extremely well researched technical paper, which takes the reader through both the scientific and psychological study of the effects of music on the brain, as well as some technical information about how music actually works. Like many of his compositions, Riley’s 44-page narrative was totally engaging from the abstract through the conclusion."

- John Yannelli, William Schumann Chair in Music, Sarah Lawrence College