Research Opportunities


Honors and Senior Research Programs in Geoscience

The ability to conduct independent research and communicate scientific ideas is essential for all students seeking professional-level careers in the geological and environmental sciences. The Geoscience Faculty, therefore, strongly encourages all undergraduate majors to consider working on a research project that would lead to a honors or senior thesis. Honors theses are required to graduate “with Honors” .

Many students who have recently completed honors or senior theses (see list below) have submitted abstracts or scientific articles for publication. The results of their project either have been presented, or will be presented at either national or regional professional meetings, such as the meetings of the Geological Society of America.

Honors Program in Geoscience: Qualified students may earn a degree with honors in geoscience. Honors program students must complete a senior thesis (012:010 Honors Thesis in Geoscience) and maintain a cumulative University of Iowa g.p.a. of at least 3.33 in order to graduate with honors (contact the University of Iowa Honors Program for more information). They also must obtain approval of their honors thesis contract from their advisor and the department’s undergraduate committee; have a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.33 in geoscience courses; and earn a grade of B or higher in the Honors Thesis in Geoscience (012:010).

Senior Thesis in Geoscience: A junior or senior who is ready to pursue independent research for credit in geoscience may assist a faculty member or graduate student with a current research project (012:019 Directed Study) or may initiate a small-scale project involving a combination of field, laboratory, and library investigation (012:119 Directed Study). Independent study is encouraged and may result in an honors thesis (012:010Honors Thesis in Geoscience) or a senior thesis (012:011 Senior Thesis in Geoscience) that may be published subsequently.

Applicable Courses (may be repeated, all require consent of instructor)

  • 012:010 Honors Thesis in Geoscience (arr)
  • 012:011 Senior Thesis in Geoscience (arr)
  • 012:019 Directed Study (arr)
  • 012:119 Directed Study (arr)

Some Recent Honors/Senior Theses Projects

  • Jay Thompson – Fractional crystallization and assimilation of the Ice Springs basalt flow, Utah. Advisor: D. Peate. Completed: Fall 2006.
  • Troy Fadiga – Morphological phylogeny of Meandrinidae (Anthozoa: Scleractinia). Advisor: Budd. Completed: Summer 2006.
  • Benjamin Belgarde – Metal concentrations of Iowa’s topsoil. Advisor: Bettis. Completed: Summer 2005.
  • Adrianne Milius – Paleoenvironmental reconstruction during the Early to Middle Pleistocene at a Homo erectus locality in the Solo Basin, Central Java, Indonesia. Advisor: Bettis. Completed: Summer 2005.
  • Charles Knight – Petrographic identification of flooding events in a cave stalagmite. Advisor: Dorale. Completed: Summer 2004.
  • Thomas Hegna – Early Silurian (Llandovery: Rhuddanian) trilobite fauna from the Bowling Green Dolomite (Edgewood Group) of northeastern Missouri. Advisor: Adrain. Completed: Spring 2004.
  • Franciszek Hasiuk – Profiles in Ordovician Carbonate δ13 from E. Iowa Sections. Advisor: Gonzalez. Completed: Spring 2003.
  • Ethan Kerns – Evolution of the Neogene Caribbean reef coral Stylophora: Analyzing morphologic change within species. Advisor: Budd. Completed: Spring 2003.
  • Nicholas Mertes – Chemostratigraphic analysis and petrogenetic modeling: Magma chamber evolution in Volcan Cerro Azul, Chilean Andes. Advisor: Wulff. Completed: Summer 2002.
  • Joel Fassbinder – Sourcing of chert artifacts at Gillett Grove. Advisor: Wulff. Completed: Spring 2002.
  • Sean Gillon – Source identification of nitrate contamination in Rock Valley, Iowa. Advisor: Gonzalez. Completed: Spring 2001.
  • Jessica Rasmussen – Lower Mississippian conodont biostratigraphy and the Tournaisian-Visean boundary at Arrow Canyon, Nevada. Advisor: Klapper. Completed: Spring 2001.