EEPS Honor Thesis

Honors Thesis

What is a senior honors thesis?
The university recognizes academic excellence achieved over an undergraduate’s academic history at Rice. Students majoring in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences (EEPS) or in Environmental Science (ENVS) with a major concentration in Earth Science may participate in the EEPS senior honors thesis. Students who complete the senior honors thesis are eligible for a Distinction in Research and Creative Work, which is granted at commencement and noted in a student’s transcript and diploma.

The senior honors thesis is an opportunity for you to formalize your undergraduate research experience.  This is an opportunity for you to explore the unknown with the help of a faculty mentor.  Unlike traditional courses, you get to participate as an independent scientist, working on geologic problems that are not yet solved and learning new skill sets (modeling, geochemical analysis, field work, etc.).

During the senior honors thesis, you will learn to identify key problems or questions, delve deep into the literature, develop a scientific methodology, collect and analyze data, and finally interpret your results.  You will also hone your skills in written and oral communication of your science.  The experience will help you decide what you might want to pursue in graduate school or elsewhere, such as industry and other fields.

Honors Research

Undergraduates are encouraged to embark on an undergraduate honors thesis. The purpose of the honors thesis is for students to develop and demonstrate their creative and independent research potential. Students are encouraged to start early (e.g., the fall of their junior year) to provide ample time for research projects to be developed, executed and written. However, honors theses must commence during the fall semester of senior year. Students are expected to enroll in at least two semesters of the course EEPS 481 spanning their senior year. Juniors who have identified a research project and mentor can also enroll in EEPS 481. Students should sign up for EEPS 481 for 3 credit hours. 


Requirements and Recommendations for Completing an Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Fall Semester of Senior Year

At the beginning of the Fall semester, seniors interested in the honors thesis program must identify a thesis advisor, a thesis topic, and enroll in the required courses. During the semester, students will participate in meetings with other honors thesis candidates to discuss basic research protocols and philosophies, and meet independently with their chosen scientific advisor, and generate data, experiments or models. At the end of the semester, students must submit final versions of their proposals, describing motivation, hypothesis, methodology, and preliminary results. The honors thesis committee will evaluate the proposals, and if approved, students can continue in the honors thesis program. 

      Required courses:

  • EEPS 401 Seminar: Undergraduate Honors Thesis (1 credit hour) 
  • EEPS 481 Undergraduate Research in Earth Science (1-3 credit hours)

Spring Semester of Senior Year

A mid-semester progress report must be submitted to the thesis committee for feedback. At the end of the spring semester, students submit their final theses, and give public oral exit talks. To complete the honors thesis program, student theses must be approved by the honors thesis committee.

      Required courses:

  • EEPS 401 Seminar: Undergraduate Honors Thesis (1 credit hour) 
  • EEPS 481 Undergraduate Research in Earth Science (1-3 credit hours)


Other Points of Consideration

Students who are accepted into the 'RUSP: Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program' can substitute EEPS 481 courses for semesters 2 and 3 with HONS 470 and HONS 471. However, the students will have to meet all other requirements of the honors thesis set by the department.

Application Process

Students must apply and be accepted to participate in the senior honors research program. The application form can be downloaded from the links below and submitted along with a thesis proposal of approximately two pages in length by the end of the spring semester of the junior year. Students will usually be informed of their acceptance into the honors thesis program within a few weeks of their application.

Important Documents and Information

Previous Honors Theses


Lingkun Guo (Advisor: Yeung)
The Effect of Nitrate Availability on Oxygen Isotope Fractionation During Cyanobacterial Photosynthesis (

Emilia Pichon (Advisor: Dee)
Changes in Atlantic Tropical Cyclones and the Bermuda High: Clues from the Last Millennium to Inform the Future. (

Stella Potemkin (Advisor: Lee)
Understanding Phosphorus Mobility in Arclogites (

Sarah Preston (Advisor: Siebach)
Differences between modern and ancient Martian grain size distributions may reveal different paleoatmospheric conditions and provenance?  (


John Sheehan (Advisors: Gonnermann, Niu)
Machine-Learning Detection of P-Waves in Laboratory Acoustic Emission Events (


Anthony D’Souza (Advisors: Masiello)
Air Pollution, Relative Burdens, and Separation Distances on the Houston Ship Channel

Meagan Hale (Advisor: Torres)
The Impacts of Concrete on pH and Calcium Concentration in Houston’s Bayous. (

Madison Morris (Advisor: Siebach)
Characterizing Multiple Episodes of Fluid Alteration within Stimson Fracture Halos, Gale Crater, Mars

Jessica Sheldon (Advisor: Siebach)
When is Drone Photogrammetry Useful for Flood Risk Assessment?  (


Jared E. Nirenberg (Advisors: Ash and Masiello)
Glacially-controlled variations in the biological pump of the Ross Sea in the Mid- to Late Pliocene (‬)


Jennifer Kroeger (Advisor: Masiello)
Water Holding Capacity, Alteration, and Potential Water Cost Savings from Soil Biochar Amendment  (


Alexandra Holmes (Advisor: Dasgupta)
The effects of silicate melt composition on metal-silicate fractionation of C and N: Implications for the origins of terrestrial volatiles

Leila Wahab (Advisor: Masiello)
The Interactions Between Land Use History and Soil Chemistry at the Katy Prairie Conservancy (


Sarah Gerenday (Advisor: Lee)
Evolution of South African cratonic peridotites based on micro-XRF mapping and reconstruction of bulk rock composition


Sofia Avendano (Advisor: Gonnerman)
Coalescence styles of bubbles in high viscosity liquids

Adeene Denton (Advisors: Gonnerman, Lendardic)
Tectonic history of Enceladus and it’s ties to the formation of the tiger stripe fractures.

Larisa Lamere (Advisors: Masiello, Dugan)
Biochar geothite interaction:  implications for biochar physical structure and field performance

Emily Paine (Advisor: Lee)
Orbicular granites at Eagle Lake: insight into the history of a pluton

Elli Ronay (Advisor: Lee)
Identifying ash in the Cretaceous Eagle Ford formation: implications for ash source identification and ash dissolution properties