GES Research and Thesis Roadmap

Completing a thesis could be daunting and you might be overwhelmed when you think about all the tasks you need to complete before you even start writing. By breaking the process down into manageable chunks, you will find that it may not be as bad as you thought it might be! We created the GES Research and Thesis Roadmap to aid GES students on their path toward completing their undergraduate research and thesis in a realistic, and sensible manner.

Click the image below to view an enlarged roadmap as a webpage. Or click here to view as a PDF.

The aim of the GES Research and Thesis Roadmap is to show students the six steps involved and the ideal timeline in which to complete them. Following this exact timeline may not be feasible for transfer students, however, the sequence must be followed.

Step 1: Explore and Identify Research Topic(s)

Suggested semester(s): Semester 1 or 2

While it is true that you have more than enough time at this stage to think about your thesis, it would be in your best interest to begin the brainstorming process as early as possible. It is ideal to start exploring and identifying topics that interest you in the first or second semester in GES, particularly as you are enrolled in GES 100: Global Environmental Science Seminar. You could read about GES students’ research and co-curricular experiences and/or browse GES graduates’ theses for ideas as well. Browse Research Centers and Research Units to see what research fields are available at UHM!

Step 2: Explore and Identify Mentor(s)

Suggested semester(s): Semester 1 or 2

There are a few ways you could explore and identify possible research and thesis mentors. If you are intrigued by any research topics you learned in GES 100 (or any other STEM course), do not hesitate to reach out to them to inquire about possibilities of joining their lab and/or learning about their research activities. You could consider the following options as well:

  • Meet with a GES major advisor to discuss your interests and concerns, and ask for a referral or introduction.
  • Browse the directory of faculty members who are willing to mentor GES students.
  • Seek employment opportunities on campus, particularly as laboratory assistant, and nurture a relationship with the Principal Investigator. 
  • Browse Research Centers and Research Units to find research topics and researchers who may potentially be willing to be a mentor.
  • Browse the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) ForagerOne database of faculty mentors and available research projects. 

Important note: not all projects are appropriate or eligible for the GES thesis. You must submit a thesis proposal, and which must be approved, before you begin a research project that you intend as basis for your thesis.

Pro Tip: Students who have more than 60 credits remaining in their degree are eligible to apply for the Entering Research and Creative Work (ERC) funding opportunity! Ideal for those who have identified a research mentor but still undecided on a project.

Step 3: Submit Thesis Proposal for Approval

Suggested semester(s): Semester 3, 4, or 5

In GES 302: GES Thesis Proposal, which you should be enrolled in at least four semesters from your expected graduation, you will learn how to approach a mentor about a research opportunity, how to construct a realistic research experience timeline, how to identify required resources, and other important components and elements of the research proposal.

Once you have found a research mentor, you have to discuss the details of the research project, and agree on responsibilities and expectations from both parties, which could include how much time you are expected to work in the lab or in the field, if there will be funding and/or how/where to apply for funding, the number of credits, etc. If you and your mentor are unclear if the project is acceptable, you should clarify with the Program before continuing on to creating a Thesis Proposal. The Thesis Proposal must be approved before you begin your project.

The Thesis Proposal is also required to receive the CRN for GES 499: Undergraduate Thesis for registration. The Thesis Proposal template is available via Thesis and Research Resources page.

Pro Tip: The Thesis Proposal can be used in lieu of a course syllabus if you wish to apply for a Writing Intensive focus for your thesis-writing efforts.  

Step 4: Begin Research!

Suggested semester(s): Semester 5 and/or 6

The earlier you begin your research, the more time you will have to collect and process data, analyze results, and determine conclusion(s). It is better to work on your research and/or write your thesis without the added pressure of deadlines. Planning extra time could also buffer delays caused by unforeseen circumstances such as global pandemic, natural disasters, life, etc., and if you have to pivot to another direction so as to not delay graduation. 

Pro Tip: You may enroll in up to six (6) credits of GES 399: Directed Reading if you or your mentor want the credits for your research efforts. GES 399 fulfills upper division requirements.

Pro Tip: You may apply to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and other Funded Research Opportunities for your research project to be funded!

Step 5: Write Thesis

Suggested semester(s): Semester 6 and/or 7

You should plan on starting the writing process as soon as possible, perhaps even while you are in the middle of your research. A minimum of three (3) credits of GES 499 is required for the degree, and it is repeatable for up to six (6) credits. 

Pro Tip: If you start writing earlier, you may enroll in smaller increments of credits of GES 499. For example, you could—with your mentor’s agreement—register in two (2) credits of GES 499 for three semesters to reduce your course workload. Note: You may register for up to three (3) credits of GES 499 in a semester.

Step 6a: Submit Thesis 

Suggested semester: Semester 8

The end is in sight! Your full and mentor-approved thesis draft is due approximately ten (10) weeks into the semester, at which time it will be sent to another faculty member for critique and comments/suggestions. If you are unable to meet the deadline, you will not be allowed to present at the Symposium and may have to defer your graduation to the next school term. Visit the FAQs page for some common questions that students have asked about the thesis!

Step 6b: Present at GES Symposium

Suggested semester: Semester 8

To prepare for your final presentation, you will be taking GES 490: Communication of Research Results. If you submit your thesis draft on time, the Program will arrange a practice presentation for you during which it will be reviewed by another faculty member and you will receive comments and guidance for improvement. Visit the FAQs page for some common questions that students have asked about the presentation!

Pro Tip: Attend a GES Symposium to support your fellow GES students as they present their research findings, and get a feel for how the event is organized and what kind of questions to expect from the audience. You may also view Virtual GES Symposiums from the Academic Years 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022, which were held online via Zoom.

If you have any questions about the above, contact the GES Student Services Specialist.

Updated September 19, 2023.