In their junior year, Geology and Environmental Geoscience majors undertake a Junior Independent Study (I.S.) project in close collaboration with their peers and a faculty mentor. Students study the concepts and techniques of Earth Science research to prepare for their senior I.S., a capstone experience that challenges them to design and pursue a research project that makes an original intellectual contribution to the geosciences.
Because Earth Sciences are best learned by doing, majors often participate in extended field/lab work or a research program during the summer between their junior and senior years. In recent years, students have undertaken field studies in diverse places in the U.S. (Alaska, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Washington) and across the globe (Bahamas, Belize, British Columbia, Cyprus, Mongolia, Iceland, Israel, and western Europe). Our students have worked alongside researchers in labs at The Ohio State University, UNC Chapel Hill, UMass Amherst, and the American Museum of Natural History, among other institutions.
Earth Sciences majors have recently completed projects on paleoecology and bioerosion of oysters, kinematics of deformation bands, formation of submarine and subglacial pillow lavas, and dendrochronological reconstruction of glacial history in Alaska. Examples of recent environmental I.S. projects include PCBs in San Francisco Bay, sustainability of groundwater pumping at a wildlife refuge, and climate implications of permafrost carbon storage.
Current I.S. students, please see our style suggestions and requirements for your I.S. theses and the assessment, evaluation and grading guidelines for Independent Study.