It needs to have an academic look, which it already has. As I mentioned, I don’t see the problems you’re describing. I’m not really seeing the two sections as much as I’m seeing three of them: 1) the top down to the headline, 2) the headline down to the bottom of the insect, and 3) everything below that.
All things considered, I think it’s fine. If it were me, I might experiment with using a sans-serif for the small type, but that’s just my inclination. I would also likely experiment with lining up the flush left type and letting the small logo hang out to the side into the margin.
Sparrow is seeing a problem with hierarchy, but I’m not really bothered by that. I don’t mind the small type being all the same size and placed in the three corners. The main focal point seems clear to me — the insect and the title. I think we’re all seeing slightly different issues, which often means things are probably fine. Otherwise, we’d all be pointing to the same noticeable problem.
I like the illustration, but what is that flying insect anyway? A moth? Is there some relevance it has to the subject matter? In addition, given that the thesis apparently delves into mathematics, the simple, academic look seems completely appropriate.