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As an undergraduate student in geography, global environmental studies, or environmental science/earth systems science, you have multiple opportunities to participate in research, through courses, independent projects, honors theses, funded fellowships, and more.

Undergraduate students often collaborate with faculty on their projects in earth system science, nature-society, geographic information science, economic geography, political ecology, urban geography, animal geographies, and climate change and environmental sustainability, and other areas of focus.

Funding for undergraduate research is available through the Graduate School of Geography, the LEEP Center, and many other sources.

Undergraduate students majoring in geography, global environmental studies, and environmental science/earth system science may apply to research programs that allow them to gain career-ready skills and experience. In many cases, these programs include funded fellowships.

Undergraduate student researchers in the School of Geography pursue research opportunities through these programs:

  • Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) Fellowships: Through funded fellowships, undergraduate may conduct research alongside doctoral students and faculty on human-environment relationships in Massachusetts. HERO Fellows have many opportunities for publications, presentations, honors, and awards, as well as funding for attendance to present their research at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) annual scholarly meeting to an audience of like-minded scholars and professionals.  Learn More…
  • Operation Wallacea: Students may gain experience through this network of American and European academics who design and implement biodiversity and conservation management research programs, resulting in the collection of large temporal and spatial data sets.  Learn More…
  • Sevilleta LTER (Long Term Ecological Research): This program seems student applicants for its Research Experiences for its Undergraduates (REU) program.  Learn More…

Additional sources of funding for undergraduate research projects include:

  • Gamma Theta Upsilon Scholarships: The International Geographic Honor Society, Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU) annually offers scholarships to GTU members.  Learn more about scholarships and memberships…
  • LEEP Center: Clark has many opportunities for funding for undergraduate internships, research, and projects, including the Peter J. Condakes Summer Research Fellowship Award for undergraduate geography, global environmental studies, and environmental science/earth system science majors interested in environmental concerns; the Steinbrecher Fellowship Program; LEEP Projects Fund; the Lois and Robert Green Urban Development and Social Change Summer Internship; and more.  Learn more about funding on campus…

If you are interested in exploring a research topic even further, you may apply to the honors program during your junior year, working closely with faculty mentor to conduct independent research and produce an honors thesis. For more information, read the Honors Program Guide.

The following list represents undergraduate theses that have been completed in the past few years; many of them are on display at the end of the geography faculty hallway on the second floor of the Jefferson Academic Center. For more information on earlier titles, contact the program administrator, Rachel Levitt.

2019

Eli Baldwin, “Predicting Maize Yield Using High-Resolution Imagery”; Lyndon Estes, adviser

Anika Berger, “Mapping Suitability for Mining-Related Deforestation in Madre De Dios, Peru Through Predictive Modeling”; Florencia Sangermano, adviser

Iolanthe Brooks, “Prison Transfers and Carceral Logics”; Asha Best, adviser

Jamieson Chaitman, “Defining the impact of a derived topographical index on mapping mangroves and peatlands in Indonesia”; Ron Eastman, adviser

Anthony Himmelberger, “Investigating the Fragmentation of Pacific Walrus Sea-Ice Habitat in the Saint Lawrence Island and Wainwright Regions of the Bering and Chukchi Seas (Alaska) using Landsat Satellite Data”; Karen Frey, adviser

Olivia Landry, “Assessing the Environmental Factors Associated with Turtle Roadkill in Massachusetts”; Florencia Sangermano, adviser

Andrew Pagan, “Assessing the impact of established juvenile trees on land surface temperature in Burncoat and Greendale neighborhoods of Worcester, MA”

Claire Shapton, “Articulations of Home: Preserving Manufactured Housing in the Gentrifying City”; Deborah Martin, adviser

2018

Tyler Anderson, “Effect of MA Forest to Urban Conversion”; John Rogan, adviser

Bhanti, Meyru, “Does the Distribution of Juvenile Tree Planting Impact Local Air Temperature? A Calibrated Microclimate Simulation in Holyoke Massachusetts.”; John Rogan, adviser

Bram, Nathan, “Redevelopment in Haifa: mitigating interests in a “mixed” city.”; Deb Martin, adviser

Corney, Hannah, “The Impact of Juvenile and Mature Trees on Air Temperature Fluxes: Employing ENVI-met in the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts”; John Rogan, adviser

Jackson, Ian, “Contentious Property, Contentious Citizenship: The Construction of a Houseless Village in Portland, Oregon”;  Mark Davidson, adviser

Jreije, Anthony, “Analyzing the Westborough and Grafton Commuter Rail Stations through the Lens of Transit Oriented Development”; Deb Martin (GEOG) & Wayne Gray (ECON), advisers

Robbins, Carly, “Finding Harmful Algae Using High Resolution Satellites”; Florencia Sangermano, adviser

Trevor, Gabe, “Identifying Socioeconomic and Demographic Voting Patterns in the 2016 Presidential Election in Minnesota and Wisconsin Using GIS and Spatial Analysis”; Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger, adviser

Weule Chandler, Miles-Philbert, “Developing a Tree Planting Priority Index to support urban greening for the Greening the Gateway Cities Program in Fitchburg, Massachusetts”; John Rogan, adviser

2017

Bayler, Claire, “Reconciliation: Changing Pressures on Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Cuba”;  Dianne Rocheleau, adviser

Epstein, Gabe, “Creating Social and Environmental Uplift: Examining the Feasibility and Effects of Rooftop Solar Panels for Environmental Justice Communities in Worcester, MA”; Mark Davidson, adviser

Esmaeili, Shirin, “Analysis on Zoning Regulations and Land Use Change in Worcester, Massachusetts with a focus on “Live, Work, Play” model and Investment in Residential Development, 2009-2016″; Deb Martin, adviser

Filipovic, Ali, “Modeling the hydrological ecosystem services of juvenile trees in northern Worcester, MA using iTree Hydro”; John Rogan & Deb Martin, advisers

Fitzgerald, Saraneh, “A Time Series of Sea Ice Melt Pond Distribution Across the Arctic”; Karen Frey, adviser

Freud, Emma, “Conceptualizing Social-Ecological Solutions to Environmental Injustice: A Case Study of Worcester’s Urban Forest”; Deb Martin, adviser

Heikes, Will, “Media Underreporting and Disasters: A GIS analysis of traditional and social media response to the 2016 Louisiana Flooding disaster”; Yuko Aoyama, adviser

Jacobsen, Madilyn, “The Impact of Public Transportation on Youth in Worcester, MA”; Deb Martin, adviser

Khan, Saira, “Characterizing the Spatial Expansion of the San Andres Mine between 1991 and 2016 in Copan, Honduras”; John Rogan, adviser

Layugan, Anela, “The Detection of Change Points in Arctic Sea Ice Cover across Different Spatial Scales, Locations, and Seasons”; Karen Frey, adviser

Miranda, Isabel, “Characterizing tree cover change in response to urban greening initiatives using an in situ tree inventory, WorldView-2 and LiDAR data in Worcester, Massachusetts” (completed Dec 2016); John Rogan, adviser

Molloy, Mary, “A Comparative Study on Wildlife Corridor-Mapping Programs”; Ron Eastman, adviser

O’Brien, David, “GIS Validation for projects to Reduce Emissions due to Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)”; Gil Pontius, adviser

Reyes Saade, Daniela, “A Temporal and Spatial Analysis of Dengue and Chikungunya Viruses in El Salvador”;  Florencia Sangermano, adviser

Sanford, Savannah, “Mapping Juvenile Tree Vulnerability to Environmental Phenomena with Climate Change in Worcester, Massachusetts”; John Rogan & Deb Martin, advisers

Simonson, Eli, “Using a Planting Priority Index to select optimal locations for tree planting in Worcester, Massachusetts”; John Rogan & Deb Martin, advisers

Singh, Rishi, “Modeling Ecosystem Services of Juvenile Trees in Worcester, MA ALB Regulated Area using i-Tree Eco”; John Rogan & Deb Martin, advisers

Smith, Tom “Time Series Analysis of Global and Biome Specific Trends in Vegetation Productivity using AVHRR NDVI-3g data from 1982-2015”; Ron Eastman, adviser

Smuthkochorn, Charis, “From Green Revolution to Organic Revolution: The Development of Inequality in Thailand and Resistance in Surin Province”; Yuko Aoyama, adviser

2016

Fuchino, Yuka, “Characterizing the Social-Environmental risks to the Urban Forest in Worcester, MA”, John Rogan & Deb Martin, advisers

Goldman, Eli , “Characterizing the Role of the Built Environment in Determining Juvenile-Tree Survivorship in Worcester, Massachusetts”; John Rogan & Deb Martin, advisers

Johnson, Kim, “Children’s Perceptions of the environment in Worcester, MA: An evaluation of environmental education in an urban environment”; John Rogan, adviser

Landesman, Katherine, “Characterizing Mangrove Distribution and Change in Antsohihy, Madagascar”; John Rogan, adviser

Rosenblum, Hannah, “Determining Detectability of Juvenile Trees with Airborne LiDAR”; John Rogan & Deb Martin, advisers

Scott, Warren, “Sea ice trends in the Cape Bathurst and Saint Lawrence Island Polynyas, 1980-2014”; Karen Frey, adviser

Shah, Sanika, “Lifting the Curtain on Myanmar’s Foreign Investments: Analyzing the Determinants, Strengths and Constraints of Foreign Investments in Myanmar”; Yuko Aoyama, adviser

Truong, Chung, “Identifying Optimal Tree Planting Locations in Worcester, MA Using Spatial Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis”; John Rogan & Deb Martin, advisers

As an undergraduate student in geography, global environmental studies or environmental science/earth system science, you have the opportunity to publish in research journals with faculty and doctoral students.

Examples of journal articles with undergraduate students as co-authors:

  • Implications of using 2m versus 30m spatial resolution data for suburban residential land change modeling,” Journal of Environmental Informatics.
  • “Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity in the Asian Longhorned Beetle Infestation in Worcester, Massachusetts,” Human Ecology.
  • “The impact of tree cover loss on land surface temperature: A case study of central Massachusetts using Landsat Thematic Mapper thermal data,” Applied Geography.

As an undergraduate researcher, you may attend professional conferences to present your findings and network with other researchers.

For example, a number of undergraduate students in geography, global environmental studies, and environmental science/earth system science have attended the American Association of Geographers’ (AAG) annual meeting.

Examples of research that undergraduate students have presented at the AAG’s annual meeting, with sponsorship by Clark faculty mentors in the School of Geography, include:

  • “Mapping Vulnerability to Mining-Related Deforestation in Madre de Dios, Peru”
  • “Investigating the Fragmentation of Pacific Walrus Sea-Ice Habitat in the Wainwright and Saint Lawrence Island Regions of Alaska using Landsat Satellite Data”
  • “Queer(ing) Carceral Mobilities: Prison Transfers and Queer Visibility”
  • “Assessing the Impact of Established Juvenile Trees on Land Surface Temperature in Burncoat and Greendale Neighborhoods in Worcester, MA”
  • “Articulations of Home: Preserving Manufactured Housing in the Gentrifying City”
  • “Influence of Waterbody Proximity and Flood Experiences on Perceptions of Climate Change in the Tampa Bay Region”
  • “Modelling the Current and Future Ecosystem Services of Urban Tree Planting in Chicopee and Fall River, Massachusetts”
  • “Comparing the vigor and mortality of juvenile residential trees in three Massachusetts ‘Gateway Cities’ ”
  • “Creating a matrix to assess pest vulnerability in Massachusetts Gateway City tree plantings”
  • “Networking a Common Space: How Tree Planting Actors Work Together to Green the Gateway Cities of Fall River and Chicopee, Massachusetts”
  • “Twitter, GIS and Disasters: An Exploration of the Role of Social Media in the 2016 Louisiana Flooding”
  • “The Impact of Public Transportation on the Lives of Youth in Worcester, Massachusetts”
  • “Socio-Spatial (In)equity of Urban Tree Canopy: Implications for Urban and Community Forestry in Worcester, Massachusetts”
  • “The Geography of Cranberries in Massachusetts: An Exploration into the Politics, Culture and Ecology of an Endangered Industry”
  • “Creating Social and Environmental Uplift: Examining the Feasibility and Effects of Renewable Energies for Affordable Housing in Worcester, Massachusetts”
  • “Shallow Drinking-Water Aquifer Suitability in Holliston, Massachusetts”
  • “GIS Validation for Reduce Emissions due to Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) projects”
  • “A Multi-dimensional Analysis of Wealth Inequality in Thailand”
  • “A Temporal and Spatial Analysis of Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika Viruses in El Salvador”
  • “Degrowth Lessons from Cuba and Agroecology”

Clark’s annual Fall Fest and Academic Spree Day are opportunities to share your research or creative work with the Clark community while you hone your presentation skills.

Examples of projects presented by undergraduate students in geography, global environmental studies, and environmental science/earth system science:

  • “Interannual Sea Ice Variability in Cape Bathurst and Saint Lawrence Island Polynyas: Effects on Regional Primary Productivity.”
  • “Measuring Post-Disturbance Regeneration of Forests in Northwest Colorado.”
  • “Cultivating Urban Youth: Professional Development Through Farming.”
  • “Bursting the Clark Bubble: Improving Student Knowledge and Usage of Public Transportation Options in Worcester.”
  • “A Socioeconomic Profile of Recreation Users of the California Northern Central Coast Region, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the northern portion of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.”

Although not paid, volunteer opportunities provide additional ways for undergraduate majors in geography, global environmental studies, and environmental science/earth systems science to obtain experience in research.

Where can you find out more about volunteer opportunities? A few suggestions: