Students are strongly encouraged to participate in and conduct research projects throughout their undergraduate program. Initially, freshmen and sophomores usually begin by serving as research assistants to faculty, staff, graduate students, and upper-division students. They are introduced to and trained in field, laboratory, computer, and other research skills. These hands-on learning opportunities enhance learning and success in regular courses, and form the foundation for developing career-relevant skills.
As students progress into and through courses in the majors, they are encouraged to participate in more self-directed activities. Learning to combine coursework and practical skills gained through research experience culminates in the capstone course or senior project course, where students design, perform, and report on a study they choose with faculty guidance. Many students build on earlier research experiences in developing their final undergraduate research effort.
A collaborative research currently in progress involves two geology students and one student in environmental science to study volcanic lakes in Costa Rica. The student research group is working to identify and conduct lab tests of simple, inexpensive recording instruments for monitoring temperature, carbon dioxide, and pH within lakes in and near active volcanoes. The group planned to deploy and test these instruments in lakes and hot springs at Lassen National Park during the summer of 2007. Companion monitoring networks in Costa Rica are anticipated to be set-up during the 2007-2008 academic year.
Faculty mentors: Dr. Rachel Teasdale (volcanology) and Dr. David Brown (hydrology), and collaborating faculty and staff at the Universidad Nacional.
Examples of Undergraduate Research Projects
Volcanic Lakes in Costa Rica
Lake in youngest crater in Irazu Volcano, outside San Jose, Costa Rica.