Research Projects

Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) is held each spring to celebrate the exemplary scholarship and creativity of Willamette University students. Students work directly with faculty members or design and conduct their own research throughout the year.

Featured Projects

Here are a few projects that exemplify the wonderful research students from the Environmental Science department have done over the years.

Abstract: I examine the means by which change is brought about in the fine-dining community and how these changes impact broader cultural, agricultural, and sustainability practices. Through observations, interviews, and examinations of the opinions of experts in the food industry, I will use the recent development of the New Nordic culinary movement as a case study to better understand the impacts elite restaurants have and how their ideas are spread. Specifically, I will look at the impacts of the Danish restaurant Noma and examine the spread of its ideas through the opening of elite restaurants by former Noma chefs. I will draw parallels between this method of bringing about change through the propagation of ideas by former chefs to the “school” analogy of communal activism developed by sociologist Jade Aguilar in order to better understand this phenomenon. Finally, by examining the state of fine dining and sustainability movements within elite restaurants, I will attempt to project future changes this model could bring about to society at large and the impacts these changes could have.

Thelonious Humphreys (2016)

Abstract: Sea-level rise (SLR) scenarios were compared to quantify the effects of SLR on Maui, Hawaii’i. Using ArcGIS, inundation maps were created for three scenarios. Layers were added to identify protected areas, agricultural land, and buildings within inundation zones. Animal husbandry was the most impacted agricultural land use. Urban areas were found to be at risk under the median scenario. Two protected areas, Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary and Kealia Pond Wildlife Refuge would be completely inundated under at least one scenario. This study identifies the negative impacts of SLR on both human and environmental systems on Maui.

Erika Kekiwi (2016)

Abstract: Our research, supported by the Green Fund, focused on the ways in which many different food system actors relate to the culture and politics of sustainability. More specifically, we examined the stories of specific producers, distributors, and non-profit employees and activists, and we related these stories to our state and national food system. As a complement to our qualitative research, we explored less utilized methods of calculating environmental impacts of human consumption by working with Bon Appetit to conduct an ecological footprint analysis of food consumption at Willamette University.

Owen Gow (2017)

Additional Research Projects

These are all the projects the Environmental and Earth Sciences department has presented at SSRD in the last few years.


  • Menu for Disaster: A Gendered Lens to Understanding Food Insecurity and Natural Disasters in Houston and Marion County - Abigail Bernhard (Poster)
  • Tree ring analysis of Oregon White oaks in the Sparks Parking Lot - Meridith Greer, Alexander Hudson, Lara Shinsato, Jeff Smith (Poster)
  • Forest Structure and Composition Past, Present, and Future at Bonesteele Park, Marion County - Sarah Brush, Sam Mularz, Emily Evans, and Hannah Swanson (Poster)
  • Phenology timing with early wood growth of Oregon White oaks in the Sparks Parking Lot - Alexander Hudson, Lara Shinsato, Jeff Smith, and Meridith Greer (Poster)
  • Methods for Developing the Bonesteele Park Tree Ring Chronology - Hazel Carr, Ty O'Donnell and Kiley Lin (Poster)
  • Relationship between framboidal pyrite size and S isotopic composition in meromictic Fayetteville Green Lake, New York - Jamie Johnson (Poster)
  • Interpreting the Bonesteele Park Tree Ring Chronology - Riley Francis, Nastja Nykaza, Christian Sidwell, and Danny Huber (Poster)
  • Dengue Fever and Climate Change in the Southern United States - Derek Lund (Poster)
  • A loche’s Lithology: a preliminary study of the stone resources from Loch of Stenness and their relationship to the Ness of Brodgar and other sites within the UNESCO’s Heart of Neolithic World Heritage - Sarah Crabb (Poster)
  • Relationship between framboidal pyrite size and S isotopic composition in meromictic Fayetteville Green Lake, NewYork - Angus Williams (Poster)


  • The Impacts of Pesticide, Gender, and Ethnicity on Health in Farmworkers - Victor Garcia (Thesis)
  • Understanding the Lead Contamination in Portland Public School District's Water Sources - Christine Smith (Thesis)
  • Exploring Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES): A Photojournalistic Approach - Olivia Orosco (Colloquium Grant)
  • From Field to Table: Localism and Sustainability? - Owen Gow (Thesis)
  • The Cost of Being a Woman: Analyzing the Role of Gender in Determining Women’s Financial Literacy Levels and the Subsequent Effect on Women’s Retirement Outcomes - Danielle Henderson (Thesis)
  • Planning with Permaculture at Willamette University’s Zena Forest - Elliot Bullen (Thesis)
  • California Scrub Jay Seed Dispersal: Implications for Oregon White Oak Savanna and Woodland Restoration - Tucker Wasuta (Thesis)
  • Roughskin Newt Habitat Assessment and Implications for Habitat Restoration - Kristi Fukunaga (Thesis)
  • Assessment and Management of Social (User-Created) Trails at Minto-Brown Island Park - John Maglinao (Thesis)
  • Restoring an Abandoned Filbert Orchard in Minto-Brown Island Park - Laura Richey (Thesis)
  • Restoration and Ecosystem Services: A Comparative Study in Minto-Brown Island Park - Sierra Dymond-Smith (Thesis)


  • Ecological Restoration in the Context of Climate Change: How are we managing our prairies in the Pacific Northwest? - Madeline McClelland (Thesis)
  • Minding the Gap: NGOs and Marine Debris Policy in Oregon - Cristina Avila (Thesis)
  • Controls on Weathering in the Ponil Creek Watershed, New Mexico - Cassie Hansen (Thesis)
  • Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on Maui, Hawaii’i - Erika Kekiwi (Thesis)
  • What Makes a Garden Grow: A Comparative Study of Community Gardens in Salem, Oregon - Lance Rossi (Thesis)
  • Deconstructing Willamette University Student Opinion of Genetically Modified Food - Jessica Munoz (Thesis)
  • The Significance of Paleogeography as a Forcing for the Onset of Snowball Earth - Cristina Avila, Monique Marquez (Thesis)
  • Regional Climate Impacts of Future Warming in Western North America to Western Europe - Anelise Zimmer (Thesis)
  • Comparative Modeling of CH4 and CO2 Positive Feedbacks - Austin Guimond (Thesis)
  • Evaluating Changes in Aridity Due to Climate Change in the American Southwest and Middle East - Cassandra Hansen (Thesis)
  • Eccentricity and Climate Change - Makenzi Malvey, Anastasis Knight (Thesis)
  • Effects of Climate Change on Coral Reef Mortality - Noah Walin, Erika Kekiwi (Thesis)
  • Modeling Sustainability Movements in Fine Dining - Thelonious Humphreys (Colloquium Grant)


  • Profit Generation via Sustainable Business Practices: The Sports Apparel Industry - Devin Bales (Independent Research)
  • Reducing Waste by Redesign: Moving Beyond a Throwaway Society - Lauren Travis (Independent Research)
  • Impact of Europeanization on Environmentalism in Poland and Czech Republic - Lauren Vermillion (Independent Research)
  • Fracking in the Air: Perspectives from Medical Anthropology - Sandra Schaefer (Independent Research)
  • Back to the Land: Alternative Food Movements in Socio-Political Context - Hannah Anderson (Independent Research)
  • Building a Healthy Community One Tray at a Time - Lucia Damberg (Independent Research)
  • Shifting Landscapes of an Ancient Grain: Community, Women, and the Commercialization of Quinoa in the Peruvian Altiplano - Hannah Schwarz (Independent Research)
Willamette University

Environmental Science

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