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Thesis Topics

If you are a junior EV major, it is time to start thinking about the possibility of a senior thesis, particularly the thesis topic. Sophomores, it's never too early to start planning your thesis, such as travel funds or specific research plans.

Here we have compiled a list of EV faculty and their research interests. Look it through and see if any topic or area of interest catches your eye, and please come to talk to the faculty member. 

Please note that this is a partial list. Other research opportunities are frequently available, and other faculty supervisors are available not on this list. Please talk to any faculty member in EV if you're thinking about completing a thesis topic (the sooner, the better).

Research Themes & Study Areas:

Rebecca Barnes

  • Ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist interested in how nitrogen and carbon are transformed and transported within watersheds and how disturbance alters these cycles.
  • Currently working on:
    • how tidal freshwater zones process nitrogen
    • resilience of forest C stocks after forest fires
    • impacts of Yellow Cedar migration on ecosystem C & N cycling
    • how institutional N footprints can inform sustainability choices
  • As a board member of the Earth Science Women’s Network, Barnes is also involved in a large study examining the role of mentoring in the recruitment and retention of women in earth and environmental sciences.

Lynne Gratz

  • Broadly: atmospheric transport and biogeochemical cycling of mercury
  • Currently working on:
    • mercury emissions and transport from coal-fired power plants
    • retention of mercury in ecosystems following severe wildfires
    • isotopic fractionation of mercury in the free troposphere

Miro Kummel

  • Predator-Prey Dynamics in natural and agricultural settings:
    • Spatial dynamics of ladybug-aphid predator-prey dynamics on short grass prairies. Field work (May+June) and mathematical modeling using R.
    • Spatial analysis of habitat use by mountain lions and elk in Catamount Center area on Pikes Peak
    • Dynamics of insect pests and their natural enemies (several possibilities on Western Slope and in the Pueblo area)
  • Treeline dynamics:
    • Spatial pattern formation at the treeline edge and its relevance for treeline advance in response to climate change (drones)
    • Microclimatology of treelines (Drones)
    • Dendrochronology and dendroclimatology of treeline advance.
  • Vegetation studies:
    • Spatial structure of tundra or prairie vegetation (drones)
    • Indicators of rangeland health from remote sensing using drones (Chico Basin Ranch)
  • Limnology:
    • Phytoplankton and zooplankton dynamics in relation to nutrient loading in eutrophic water bodies.

Phil Kannan

  • Topics that bridge policy and science (natural or social) co-advised with science (natural or social) faculty. Here we would use science to document the problem and propose a policy solution to address the problem.
  • Wetlands, EPA Certified Wetland Banks
  • Ecosystem services, grazing on Colorado BLM
  • Hazardous waste
  • Abandoned mines in SW
  • Toxic sediments in dams (e.g. Clark Fort River in Missula)
  • Social justice, storage of toxic waste in under-privileged communities
  • Risk management: should toxic sediments be left behind dams, or be removed and stored?
  • Endangered Species Act permits to take and kill. Are habitat conservation plans effective at safeguarding endangered species? Perform an ES population viability study after development with the take permit occurs

Howard Drossman

  • Primary interests:
    • How do students develop conceptions of ecological stewardship?
    • Environmental education
    • Integral approaches to studying the environment
    • Mindfulness and the environment
  • Secondary interests:
    • Atmospheric chemistry
    • Aquatic chemistry
    • Biogeochemical cycling

Marion Hourdequin

  • Environmental ethics
  • Ethics & climate change, including climate justice and the ethics of climate engineering
  • Ethics and philosophy of ecological restoration; restoration in landscapes with complex socio-ecological histories
  • Philosophy, ethics, and the Anthropocene
  • Nature in East Asian traditions of thought (esp. Confucianism and Daoism)
  • Philosophy of science, values in science, science-society relationship
  • Philosophy of ecology
  • Additional areas of interest: environmental justice; philosophy of ecosystem services; Aldo Leopold; ethics of de-extinction

Eric Perramond

  • Environment & Development topics
  • Political & Cultural Ecology
  • Land Degradation & Society
  • Natural Resource Management & Conservation
  • Soils & Soil Erosion
    Areas: Southwest U.S., Mexico, Latin America, Western Europe
  • Specific Topics:
    • Water adjudications and water resources in the western U.S.
    • Impacts of neo-liberal economic policies in Mexico
    • French-Spanish Pyrenees and land-cover/land-use changes
    • Livelihood and natural resource crises in the Southwestern U.S.