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Environmental and Sustainability Sciences

Faculty Director: Colleen Kearns, chair

The research honors program in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences  involves original, independent research that generates novel findings. Students learn how to design and carry out research under the direct supervision and guidance of a faculty member or senior 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. The research findings are presented in a written thesis. Although the format is not prescribed, the thesis usually consists of a short introduction, relevant materials and methods, a concise presentation of the meaningful data, a discussion, and the student's interpretation of the conclusions. Students also will present the findings of their research, either orally or via a poster, in a special symposium in late May.

Students should adhere to the following schedule.

Junior Year

  1. Identify a thesis advisor and research topic.
  2. File an informal application with the faculty director. The application includes: i) a short description of the research and ii) advisor information.

Senior Year

  1. NTRES or 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. Registration is done using CALS Special Studies form available online.
  2. Sixth week of fall semester: Submit formal application to faculty director (G16 Fernow Hall).
  3. April 15: Submit one copy of the thesis to the thesis advisor and the faculty director. The faculty director will arrange for a review of the thesis by a faculty reader.
  4. May 4: Pick up faculty reader comments from the faculty director.
  5. May 15: Submit two copies of the final thesis: one for the college, one for the program director.
  6. Friday before Graduation: Participate in and present the findings of their research, either orally or via a poster, in an event for parents, faculty, and peers.
  7. Students may volunteer to publish their thesis at eCommons Cornell University Library, as long as doing so does not interfere with other plans, such as patenting or publishing in another journal. A permission form to allow a thesis to be made available online at Mann Library can be obtained from the honors committee chair.
  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.