Undergrad doing lab research.

Undergrad Research and Senior Thesis

The Earth and Planetary Sciences faculty enthusiastically supports independent study and senior theses as a way of involving motivated undergraduates directly in research. These opportunities provide a chance to apply classroom learning to the real world, and help students experience the fascination of creative research or gain experience with job situations. Participating in undergraduate research is invaluable in helping students choose the direction their careers will take, and in providing them experience to carry on to either the job market or to graduate school. 

Research Opportunities. Earth and Planetary Sciences sponsors a variable-unit individual study course, which is used for individual research projects. This course is for students who wish to undertake some individual library or other research project that is of lesser scope than a senior thesis project, or to pursue a particular interest in depth that might not be available in any particular course. Availability of this course encourages intellectual curiosity by providing students academic credit for independent inquiry. The course is variable unit, but commonly requires library, field, or laboratory research leading to the writing of a substantial paper.

Senior Thesis/Honors Senior Thesis. Every year numerous geology undergraduates are engaged in doing a research project for a senior thesis under the guidance of one of the faculty. The senior thesis option is open to geology majors who have completed 135 units of course work. The honors project is designed for majors whose GPA qualifies them for academic honors; a senior thesis option for our majors who do not qualify for academic honors is also available. Both options are intended for students whose intellectual curiosity motivates them to go beyond the normal course offerings to explore some aspect of geology in depth. It provides an introduction to original research and the writing of a thesis under the guidance of one or more faculty, and gives the student an opportunity to understand first-hand the process of scientific investigation. We strongly encourage students doing research or a senior thesis to present their work at the annual Undergraduate Research Conference in April.

Undergraduate Research Center.