Oregon State University

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research is "An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original, intellectual, or creative contribution to the discipline..." (Council on Undergraduate Research).

In the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, undergraduates have access to world-class faculty conducting research in a variety of fields (see the CEOAS Research webpage). As a student in CEOAS, you have an opportunity to engage in scholarly pursuits by contributing your creativity, elbow grease, and enthusiasm. You can also choose to develop a research project into a Senior Thesis, and/or earn transcript notation as a Research Fellow. Research can take many forms, including field work, laboratory work, literature investigations, cultural inquiries, or a combination of these and other approaches. The underlying principle is simply that you develop your skills for independent inquiry in partnership with your faculty mentor.

By engaging in undergraduate research, you will have the opportunity to:

How to Get Involved in Undergraduate Research

The one thing that is absolutely essential for engaging in undergraduate research is cultivating a relationship with a faculty mentor. You start this process by:

Earn Undergraduate Research Credit

You may earn academic credit for an independent, original research project guided by a CEOAS faculty mentor and resulting in a written report. Research credit is repeatable up to 8 times for a total of 24 credits. You are assigned credit based on your major (ATS/ENSC/GEO/OC 401) and the number of hours that you are involved with a project. As with other coursework, one hour of credit represents 30 hours of focused academic work. Credit is not awarded retroactively for work done previously. For example, a full-time research experience lasting one term or one summer (forty hours/week for ten weeks), where all the work is academic in nature, could earn 12 credits. Research credit is graded on an A-F basis. It is the responsibility of your Faculty mentor to assign a grade each term you are enrolled in credit.

To register for research credits fill out the Undergraduate Research Agreement form. Submit the completed form to Jessica Cardinal-Lanier, the Experiential Learning Coordinator, located in 104 Wilkinson Hall. Once received, an override will be granted allowing you to register for credit.

Earn Undergraduate Thesis Credit

If your end goal is to write an undergraduate senior thesis based on your research you are encouraged to register for Thesis credits (ATS/ENSC/GEO/OC 403). This course is repeatable up to 4 times for a maximum of 24 credits. You are assigned credit based on your major and the number of hours you are involved with writing a thesis. As with other coursework, one hour of credit represents 30 hours of focused academic work. Credit is not awarded retroactively for work done previously. Thesis credit is graded on an A-F basis and it is the responsibility of the thesis advisor to assign a grade each term the student is enrolled in credit.

Any student in CEOAS may complete a thesis, and this is excellent preparation for similar work in a graduate school or a career field. If you are interested in completing a thesis, plan well in advance (i.e., your junior year) and discuss this with your faculty mentor

Undergraduate Thesis Guidelines:

  1. The student must enroll in a minimum of 3 credits of Thesis. Students wishing to register for thesis credit must fill out the Undergraduate Thesis Agreement form. Submit the completed form to Jessica Cardinal-Lanier, the Experiential Learning Coordinator, located in 104 Wilkinson Hall. Once received, an override will be granted allowing the student to register for credit.
  2. The student's thesis will be written in the style of a manuscript submitted to an academic journal in the particular field of inquiry. The student and thesis advisor will select an appropriate journal. The thesis advisor will determine the length and number of tables/figures. The final thesis must be a document that is acceptable to the advisor.
  3. The student must present the results of the research in a public forum, such as Geology & Geophysics Day, Geography Day, Celebrating Undergraduate Excellence, or another student symposium showcasing research. The presentation, poster, or talk can be thought of as a thesis defense. If, alternatively, the thesis advisor wants the student to have a formal defense, the student and advisor can plan and schedule a public meeting for the presentation.
  4. Note that the University Honors College and the International Degree have their own thesis requirements (format, defense, deadlines, etc…). It is the student's responsibility to be aware of these requirements.

Finding Undergraduate Research in CEOAS

To learn more about who's doing what in terms of research within CEOAS, consider the following resources to learn more about the research and identify faculty members conducting that research:

Funding Research

While funding support for research can provide resources for materials and compensation for your time, funding is NOT required to begin engaging in research. In fact, the most successful pathway to finding research support is by first engaging in research without funding. This helps you gather the experience and knowledge necessary to then be successful finding support. So, do not let a lack of funding deter you from pursuing research opportunities.

Funding Specific to OSU and Oregon University System (OUS):

Regionally & Nationally Competitive Funding Opportunities:


If you have additional questions regarding undergraduate research in CEOAS, please feel to contact these people:

- Andrew Meigs, Program Head of Earth Sciences - Geology meigsa@geo.oregonstate.edu
- Rob Wheatcroft, Program Head of Earth Sciences - Earth Systems raw@coas.oregonstate.edu
- Julia Jones, Program Head of Earth Sciences - Geography Julia.Jones@oregonstate.edu
- Larry Becker, Program Head of Environmental Sciences beckerla@science.oregonstate.edu
- Kaplan Yalcin, Senior Instructor and REU Coordinator yalcink@science.oregonstate.edu

Additional general information can be found at Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and the Arts (URSA), OSU's portal for information on undergraduate research.

CEOAS Undergraduate Research Scholarships
Instructions & Application