Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate Research Opportunities in the Department of Environmental Sciences


Finding a Research Mentor

If you are interested in getting involved in research as an undergraduate, the first step is finding out what projects and topics are currently being undertaken by faculty. Faculty web pages are usually a great place to start. Once you have identified a faculty member whose research interests match your own or whose current projects seem exciting, set up a meeting with that faculty member to discuss your interest in their research, and any opportunities for getting involved. You may also want to set up a meeting with the Director of Undergraduate Research, Professor Berry Brosi, who can help you find a good faculty match.

If you are unsure about your interests and would like to brainstorm potential topics or learn more about research in general, developing research questions, or preparing for a meeting with faculty, you might want to set up a meeting with the ENVS departmental librarian, Kristan Majors, who will be happy to help you out. 

ENVS faculty research disciplines include:

Ecology and Conservation
Disease Ecology and Global Health
Environmental Policy
Resource Management
Sustainability and Development
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Urban Environment
Geography and Spatial Sciences

Once you have met with your faculty research mentor and are ready to get started on an undergraduate research project,  ask your mentor about the department's opportunities for funding, such as the Lester grant or the Turner grant, as well as the alternative resources available through Emory College.


ENVS Undergraduate Research Sequence of Courses

The ENVS undergraduate research sequence of courses consisting of 299R, 399R and 495 or 499R is for students who may be considering careers in research and who seek intensive, structured and progressive research training.  The research sequence  provides a mechanism for students who are interested in ENVS research to get involved in research early in their academic careers, before they are expected to undertake an entirely independent project. Students usually will begin this sequence as sophomores with ENVS 299, leading up to  ENVS 499 as seniors.

ENVS 299R: Fundamentals of ENVS Research

This course is intended to provide underclassmen in the ENVS department with a structured means of receiving training under the supervision of a faculty member (as well as affiliated graduate students or post doctoral researchers) in a particular field of study. ENVS 299 allows more students to access research at an earlier stage in their undergrad careers, resulting in greater involvement in more in-depth independent work as upperclassmen.

Students will learn foundation skills for research in a field of environmental sciences, including training in lab or field techniques, data collection, organization and analysis, literature search and review, and report/paper writing.  

ENVS 299 represents a stepping stone for students who plan to undertake advanced independent projects in ENVS 499 or as honors theses through ENVS 495. 


Students enrolled in ENVS 299 for 4-hour credit will allocate ~10 hours a week to research. Participation in an ENVS 299 course is equivalent taking any other undergraduate class. Not showing up during the scheduled time (unless prior arrangements are made) will impact the final grade.

Student evaluation in the ENVS 299 research course will be based on (see contract form for more details):

1. Participation in lab/field work
Students will have flexibility to schedule their presence at the lab, but once they allocate their weekly time they are expected to be present at the lab/field.

2a. Participation in biweekly journal club discussions
Once every other week students will participate in a journal club discussion, and will be required to present at least two papers during the semester.

OR


2b. Participation in one-to-one discussions and guided readings with Research advisor.

3. Students will be asked to submit bi-weekly reports describing their involvement in field/laboratory activities. Optionally, they will be able to briefly describe and discuss the papers they read during the reported period.

These bi-weekly reports will help the advisor evaluate the student’s performance and guide the student through her/his learning of supervised research.

If you are interested in enrolling in ENVS 299, contact your ENVS faculty advisor.


ENVS 399R: Intro to Independent Research  

This course forms part of the 299-499 Independent Research Course Series. It is intended for students who have had some prior introduction to research, either in ENVS 299 or in another class or field, and who are interested in furthering their knowledge of the research process.

ENVS 399 is targeted to those students with enough skills to perform supervised research. Particularly, students enrolled in the ENVS 399 will be responsible of pursuing a research protocol/question designed by a research advisor (a faculty member and/or affiliated graduate students or post doctoral researchers), and will be in charge of the execution and analysis of the data related with that protocol. Active interaction between the student and the advisor will warrant the proper implementation and finalization of the proposed protocol. The rationale of the course is to provide foundation skills for research in a field of environmental studies, including training in lab or field techniques, data collection, organization and analysis, literature search and review, and report/paper writing. 

ENVS 399 represents an important intermediate course for students who plan to undertake advanced independent projects in ENVS 499 or as honors theses through ENVS 495. With ENVS 299,  399  allows more students to access research at an earlier stage in their undergrad careers, resulting in greater involvement in more in-depth independent work as upperclassmen. ENVS 399 is a pre-requisite for ENVS 499.

Students enrolled in ENVS 399 for 4-hour credit will allocate 10 hours a week to research. Participation in an ENVS 399 course is equivalent taking any other undergraduate class. Not showing up during the scheduled time (unless prior arrangements are made) will impact the final grade.

Student evaluation in the ENVS399 research course will be based on (see contract form for more details):

1. Participation in lab/field work
Students will have flexibility to schedule their presence at the lab, but once they allocate their weekly time they are expected to be present at the lab/field.

2a. Participation in biweekly journal club discussions
Once every other week students will participate in a journal club discussion, and will be required to present at least two papers during the semester.

OR


2b. Participation in one-to-one discussions and guided readings with Research advisor.

3. Students will have to submit bi-weekly reports describing their involvement in field/laboratory activities, and briefly describing the papers read during the reported period.  

These bi-weekly reports will help the advisor evaluate the student’s performance and guide the student through her/his learning of supervised research.

If you are interested in enrolling in ENVS 399, contact your ENVS faculty advisor.


ENVS 499R: Advanced Independent ENVS Research

This course forms part of the 299-499 Independent Research Course Series. It is intended to provide underclassmen in the ENVS department with a structured means of receiving training under moderate supervision of a research advisor (a faculty member and/or affiliated graduate students or post doctoral researchers) in a particular field of study. 

Unlike ENVS 399, ENVS 499 is targeted to those students with enough skills to perform independent research. Particularly, students enrolled in ENVS 499 will be responsible for pursuing a research protocol/question of their interest, and will be in charge of the execution, analysis and report of findings with proper guidance and advice from the research advisor. Active interaction between the student and the advisor will warrant the proper implementation and finalization of the proposed protocol. The rationale of the course is to provide foundation skills for independent research in a field of environmental studies. 

Students enrolled in ENVS 499 for 4-hour credit will allocate approx 10 hours a week to research. Participation in an ENVS 499 course is equivalent taking any other undergraduate class. Not showing up during their scheduled time (unless prior arrangements are made) will impact the final grade.

Student evaluation in the ENVS 499 research course will be based on (see contract form for more details):

1. Participation in lab/field work
Students will have flexibility to schedule their presence at the lab, but once they allocate their weekly time they are expected to be present at the lab/field.

2a. Participation in biweekly journal club discussions
Once every other week students will participate in a journal club discussion, and will be required to present at least two papers during the semester.

OR


2b. Participation in one-to-one discussions and guided readings with the research advisor.

3. Students will be asked to submit bi-weekly reports describing their involvement in field/laboratory activities and briefly describing the papers read during the reported period.
These bi-weekly reports will help the advisor evaluate the student’s performance and guide the student through her/his learning of individual research.

4. Final research paper. At the end of the semester students will have to turn in a final scientific paper describing the background of their research, the methods they employed, and the main results and discussion derived from their research. The structure and content of the report will be determined by the research advisor.


ENVS 495: Honors Research

ENVS majors with with a 3.5 overall GPA are invited to apply to the Honors Program, conducted during their Senior year. Students who are interested in the program should contact the faculty departmental Honors coordinator  in their Junior year.


Additional Undergraduate Research Programs at Emory:

Emory College has several programs in place to help advanced undergrads succeed in research projects. Check out the links to the following programs for more information.

Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory (SIRE)
The SIRE program provides funding for any undergraduate in good academic standing to participate in research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Environmental Studies students who are awarded SIRE fellowships are usually jointly funded through the ENVS department's own Lester Research grant.

Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE)
Students interested in pursuing research in the natural sciences during the summer may apply to the SURE program.

Additional summer research opportunites on Emory's campus are funded through the Summer Research Partner Program for social sciences and humanities. Students interested in international research in natural science may apply for funding through the International Research Experience for Science Students (IRES) program.

Emory College Center for Science Education (ECCSE)
The ECCSE is committed to supporting students in science disciplines through mentoring and academic advising.