compiled image of honors thesis projects, microscope image of a plant, two diagrams of a plant and a student examining a barn swallow's wing

What is it?

EBIO Departmental Honors is a program for students in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department who engage in independent research with a faculty advisor and write and defend an Honors thesis. Graduation with Latin Honors is dependent on the written thesis, the oral defense of the thesis, and a good GPA. We support graduating Honors candidates with a two-credit class (EBIO 4980 to be taken in the year of graduation) offered every Spring, where candidates give a practice defense and receive support and constructive feedback from their peers. For more information, please contact Prof. Pieter Johnson ( and Prof. Barbara Demmig-Adams ( who are EBIO’s Honors Program Directors & Honors Council Representatives!

Why do it?

Students who complete an EBIO Honors thesis often report that this experience was the single most rewarding aspect of their academic experience at CU! It allows engagement in your education in a unique and challenging way and strengthens your development as an independent thinker and good communicator. The Honors thesis is also a highly valuable asset for a number of additional reasons:

  • Opportunity to explore professional interests in a customized program outside the classroom
  • Helps with admission into graduate programs or medical school
  • Gives access to personal and insightful letters of recommendation from your thesis advisor
  • Boosts your résumé/CV and makes you stand out for future employers and professional programs

What do I need?

To graduate with departmental Honors, you need:

  • to register officially with the Arts & Sciences Honors program that manages the logistics of all departmental Honors programs (see website for deadlines and requirements) in the semester prior to your graduation after you have typically completed much, or at least some, of your Honors research; however, do contact an EBIO Honors director as soon as you want to start your research
  • a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher by the end of the semester prior to graduation
  • to take Biological Statistics if you are working with empirical data
  • the EBIO 4980 Spring Honors seminar (where you will present a practice defense talk) in your graduation year; you may also take optional Independent Research/Thesis Writing credits (max of 3 each) with your thesis advisor via EBIO 3990 and/or 4990
  • to write an Honors thesis and defend it in an oral thesis defense

With whom can I work?

The faculty members in EBIO are excited to work with you! Choose from many different research topics and types of research (ranging from field projects to lab projects, analysis of existing data sets, and scholarly literature syntheses on topics in public health and environmental science). Please see below a list of EBIO Faculty Advisors and their research areas. Do not hesitate to start contacting faculty early in your career at CU, even in your freshman year. Funding opportunities available at CU (; include some available specifically for first- and second-year students. We recommend making a short list of faculty with research areas that interest you, visiting the EBIO department’s website ( and the respective groups’ websites for more detail, and then contacting several faculty via email to inquire about opportunities to get involved in research. You may also work with a faculty advisor from beyond EBIO or CU if approved by the EBIO Honors directors. If you have ANY questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

EBIO Honors Program: Faculty Advisors

Dr. William Adams: Plant ecophysiology, photosynthesis; environmental stress, leaf structure & function

Dr. Nichole Barger: Biogeochemistry, forest ecology, management & restoration of arid-land ecosystems

Dr. Deane Bowers: Insect ecology and evolution, plant-animal interactions, chemical ecology

Dr. Lisa Corwin: Education/environment & student learning, resiliency & grit in biology research 

Dr. Kendi Davies: Community & population dynamics, invasion / extinction, grasslands, microcosms

Dr. Laura Dee: Ecology; Conservation ecology, climate change, biodiversity, ecosystem services, resource management

Dr. Barbara Demmig-Adams: Literature syntheses in human health & lifestyle/environment, plant functional biology

Dr. Nancy Emery: Plant evolutionary ecology and conservation biology

Dr. Luke Evans: Population, statistical & behavioral genetics, association mapping, selection, genetic architecture

Dr. Mike Gil: Marine ecology, coral reefs, behavior; human-driven change; modeling

Dr. Eve Hinckley: Biogeochemical & hydrological processes; water management; human impact

Dr. Noah Fierer: Soil Ecology, microbial ecology, role of microorganisms in terrestrial ecosystems

Dr. Pieter Johnson: Invasive species & emerging diseases, aquatic ecology & evolution; conservation

Dr. Amika Kamath: Behavioral & evolutionary ecology, lizards, learning in non-traditional classrooms

Dr. Nolan Kane: Evolutionary genomics, ecology, evolution & genetics of (plant) adaptation & speciation

Dr. Patrick Kociolek: Freshwater Ecology, taxonomy, systematics and biogeography of diatoms

Dr. Joanna Lambert: Evolution/behavior/ecology/conservation, mammals/primates, human-wildlife conflict

Dr. Jingchun Li: Invertebrate evolution, biodiversity, symbiosis, marine biology & functional genomics

Dr. Erin Manzitto-Tripp: Plant systematics, evolution of biodiversity, lichen biology

Dr. Andrew Martin: Evolutionary & conservation biology, microbial diversity, biogeography

Dr. Andrew McAdam: Evolutionary ecology, life history, behavior, red squirrels

Dr. Christy McCain: Community ecology, biodiversity & biogeography of vertebrates, montane conservation

Dr. Valerie McKenzie: Parasitology, disease ecology, amphibians, wildlife conservation

Dr. Daniel Medeiros: Genetic and developmental changes driving early vertebrate evolution

Dr. Brett Melbourne: Ecological modeling, extinction, endangered and invasive species, conservation

Dr. Alisha Quandt: Fungal biology: Genomics, transcriptomics, phylogenetics & molecular ecology 

Dr. Samuel Ramsey: Insect behavior, symbiosis, pollinator health, superorganism biology, invasive species

Dr. Chris Ray: Population biology, biogeography, behavior, climate change and conservation

Dr. Julian Resasco: Landscape, community, and conservation ecology, insect biology

Dr. Rebecca Safran: Sexual selection, vertebrate behavior, genetics/behavior of speciation, avian ecology

Dr. Steven Schmidt: Microbial ecology, plant/microbe interactions, biogeochemistry, mycorrhizae

Dr. Tim Seastedt (Emeritus): Terrestrial ecosystem ecology, soil biology, ecology of invasive species

Dr. Stacey Smith: Evolutionary genetics, molecular phylogenetics, plant-pollinator interactions

Dr. David Stock: Developmental genetic mechanisms of the evolution of teeth in fishes

Dr. Katharine Suding: Restoration ecology, invasive species, global change, grassland/alpine biodiversity, Niwot Ridge

Dr. Scott Taylor: Hybridization, speciation, evolutionary ecology, population genomics (primarily of birds)

Dr. Merritt Turetsky: Terrestrial & wetland ecosystems, biogeochemistry, global change, environmental policy

Dr. Carol Wessman (Emerita): Landscape/regional ecology; disturbance; land-use/land-cover change; remote sensing/GIS