Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate students interested in doing research can learn about research opportunities by asking a faculty member or graduate student.

An undergraduate student works on their research project

Once a student develops a plan with a research advisor, the student should enroll in one of the research courses (number of hours varies).



All undergraduate students doing original research should enroll in GEOL 490/491, except:
- For senior thesis work, enroll in 492 Senior Thesis (or 493 Honors Senior Thesis)
- For “Individual Study” not involving original research, enroll in GEOL 390


Student writes a brief Project Description prior to starting (see details below) and submits it to Michael Stewart.
Completion of GEOL 490 will require a Final Report in the form of a paper, or a poster presented at a regional or national meeting.


GEOL 490 students should attend a seminar to be led by Michael Stewart, designed to develop skills of communicating research ideas and results, research ethics and Field/Lab safety. This will meet several times in the spring semester.

  • A short (e.g., one page) description of the project, written by the student with some input from the advisor. It should include, ideally:

    o Research question/hypothesis to be addressed
    o Research approach/methods
    o Potential results and implications for the field

  • Include the number of credit hours and a justification thereof. That is, the project’s scope and size should be clearly articulated.

  • List student qualifications, such as GPA, class year, and previous course work.


Students doing field work

  • Students are strongly encouraged to present at the SESE Research Review and the campus-wide Undergraduate Research Symposium (commonly in April).

  • Grading: One project grade is given on completion of the project and submission of the Final Report; it applies to all semesters of GEOL 490. If a 490 project extends for multiple semesters, a deferred grade (DFR) can be used.

  • GEOL 490 projects can transition to 492 Senior Thesis (note that GEOL 492 is required for Graduation with Distinction).