Education News

Environmental Science Seniors Present Thesis Research

2007-04-30

On April 19th, twenty-three undergraduate seniors presented and displayed their senior thesis projects at a poster session in Barnard Hall. The students represented Columbia's Earth and Environmental Science department, the Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology department, the Earth and Environmental Engineering department, and Barnard College's Environmental Science department. Students work on these projects for the duration of their senior year with mentors from the Earth Institute community and affiliated organizations.

Helen Booth Tobin

Helen Booth-Tobin, Dept. of Environmental Science,
Barnard College presenting her poster,
"Evaluating effects of income and urbanization on
residential greenhouse gas emissions"

The thesis projects covered a wide spectrum of environmental issues, from the effects of Manhattan air quality on school children to evaluations of water composition in Bangladesh, artificial reefs in the Dominican Republic, greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas, and the acclimation of captive-born manatees that are released into the wild.

Columbia and Barnard faculty, staff and students attended the event on April 19th, during which students briefly presented their projects, and then put their posters on display. Suzanne Young, a Barnard Environmental Policy major, presented her project on "Fecal Bacteria in the Hudson River." Suzanne said, "the senior thesis was the most rewarding experience I've had in my undergraduate career. The poster session was also valuable, to hear comments and answer questions about my project really helped me get different perspectives, new insights, and also boost my confidence in my own knowledge of the subject." Suzanne was awarded a Tibor T. Polgar Fellowship from the Hudson River Foundation that will fund her to continue researching raw sewage in the Hudson River over the summer.

Earth Institute Executive Director, Steven Cohen, attended the poster session and noted the strength of the student research. "The breadth of topics and the quality of work done by students was apparent even in these brief presentations. In addition to full time faculty, some of the research mentors included scholars from various museums and organizations throughout the city that we have ties to through the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation. The presentations really showed how vibrant these ties and resources are."

Martin Stute, Professor and Associate Chair of Barnard's Environmental Science Department sees the senior thesis research and poster session as an important stepping stone for students. "We often hear from alumnae that their thesis was the most valuable experience in their college career. One student commented that "life is a series of senior theses' and that working on hers prepared her well."

A list of the student projects can be found on Barnard's Environmental Science web site ( http://www.barnard.columbia.edu/envsci/).