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Environmental and Sustainability Sciences

Program coordinator: Colleen M. Kearns, chair

The research honors program in environmental and sustainability sciences involves original, independent scholarly or experimental work that generates novel findings in a breadth of disciplines spanning the social and physical sciences and the humanities. Thesis candidates are encouraged to understand and address contemporary environmental and sustainability issues through an interdisciplinary and integrated approach. Students learn how to design and carry out research under the direct supervision and guidance of a faculty member or research associate (thesis advisor).

Application Requirements and Procedures

Most students in the program engage in research for multiple years to learn the iterative nature of research. Students should meet on a regular basis with their thesis advisor whose responsibility it is to guide and approve the thesis work.  Candidates will present the findings of their work, either orally or via a poster, in a special symposium in May.

Students should adhere to the following schedule:

Junior Year

  1. Identify a thesis advisor and research topic.
  2. Apply to the ESS Honors Program by the end of junior year. Email environment@cornell.edu for details.

Senior Year

  1. ESS 4990 - Undergraduate Research, can be added (in consultation with the research advisor) to receive credit for research work done in fall and/or spring. Enroll in research credits using the CALS Special Studies form available online.
  2. By the end of the junior year:  Submit a thesis proposal in an online application available on the ESS Honor page.
  3. April 15: Target formal thesis submission date.
  4. By the end of classes, students will receive thesis feedback and have an opportunity to revise work.
  5. By the end of finals: Submit final version of thesis.
  6. Candidates participate in and present the findings of their thesis project in an honors symposium scheduled in May.
  7. Students may volunteer to publish their original honors research at eCommons, Cornell’s digital repository, as long as doing so does not interfere with other plans, such as patenting or publishing in a professional journal. A permission form to allow a thesis to be made available online in eCommons can be obtained from the ESS honors program coordinator.
  8. Each year, in recognition of student honors research achievements, CALS prints a booklet of honors theses abstracts (CALS Research Honors Abstracts). Students are responsible for submitting their formatted abstracts in accordance with abstract publication instructions.