Exploring research and possible mentors

Stage 2 is designed to help you think about the steps involved in developing a thesis topic and selecting a mentor. In this stage you begin to explore possible thesis topics and connect with potential thesis mentors. You are likely to consider:

  • What am I truly curious about?
  • What qualities should I seek in a thesis mentor?
  • What is the best project for me considering my career and life goals?
  • What projects have other students done successfully?

You have two options to complete Stage 2. Whichever option you choose, Stage 2 lays the groundwork. You are encouraged to complete Stage 2 early in your HC career but at least within the first six terms of enrolling in the HC. You will receive occasional reminders to complete Stage 2 until you have done so. If you have questions, please contact your HC academic advisor.

If your plan has changed and you need to update your Thesis Map, see the Thesis Map update.

Option 1

Register for HC 408 Stage 2: Explore & Build


Option 2

Complete Stage 2: Explore & Build tasks independently.

Task 1: Review a completed thesis & submit report

Task 2: Attend an HC Student & Faculty Mixer

Task 3: Interview a faculty member & submit report

Task 4: Complete IRB Online Ethics (CITI) training & submit certificate of completion


Resources for exploring topics and connecting with faculty

  • HC Student & Faculty Mixers: Most colleges will have a student-faculty mixer once per year. Student-faculty schedule details and registration information
  • Past HC Student & Faculty Mixer Database: Past HC student-faculty mixer slides, from 2013 to present, are a valuable resource to learn about research at OSU, faculty research interests, and faculty contact information.
  • Potential HC Research Opportunities: This is a list of information shared with the Honors College from faculty about their research area or thesis projects they have mentored. 
  • URSA: The Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and the Arts (URSA) helps students get connected with scholarly projects mentored by faculty in all disciplines at OSU. For more, check out URSA’s website for all available resources, drop-in hours, and programming.
  • ScholarsArchive: You can access the digital copies of completed HC theses on file in the ScholarsArchive.  Current HC students can also access additional past theses resources on the Honors College Academic Advising Canvas page.
  • Additional Resources for Current HC Students: A number of additional exploration resources are available to current HC students on Honors College Academic Advising Canvas page.  If you are a current student and are unable to access this page please contact UHCadvisor@oregonstate.edu.


Task 1: Review a completed thesis. 

Choose a completed HC thesis through the noted resources. If you prefer to view printed copies in the HC thesis library, visit the HC advising office. Read carefully the introduction and conclusion/results sections, and scan the rest of the thesis. Then report on the thesis you reviewed.


Task 2: Attend an HC Student-Faculty Mixer.

Student-faculty mixers are excellent opportunities to connect with faculty members, learn about their research, and potentially get involved in projects that could inform your own thesis. Don’t worry if you aren’t ready to begin research or aren’t sure about your interests; these events are intended to help you explore opportunities and make connections. Do approach the mixer seriously: Dress in attire you are comfortable making a first impression with and be prepared to discuss your interests and/or academic background. Some faculty members may even ask for a resume.

Spring 2020 Mixer details: Registration information (You must register at least 2 business days before to get Zoom meeting information)

April 15: 

  • Dan Faltesek – School of Arts & Communication
  • Alison Johnston - School of Public Policy
  • Skip Rochefort –Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering
  • David Cann - Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Andrea Marks – College of Business
  • John Selker - College of Agricultural Sciences; Biological and Ecological Engineering

April 23: 

  • Paul Thompson - School of Public Policy
  • Nicole von Germeten – School of History, Philosophy, and Religion
  • Liz Helman - School of Arts & Communication
  • Kate Schilke - Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering
  • Ean Ng - Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Ryann Reynolds-McIlnay – College of Business

April 29: 

  • Jonathan Kaplan - School of History, Philosophy, and Religion
  • David Biespiel – School of Writing, Literature, and Film
  • Peter Betjemann - School of Writing, Literature, and Film
  • Kyle Neimeyer - Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Jason Ideker - Civil and Construction Engineering
  • Michelle Kutzler - Animal & Rangeland Sciences

May 7: 

  • Zach Price - School of Writing, Literature, and Film
  • Josh Reeves - School of Arts & Communication
  • Lewis Semprini - Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering
  • Shane Brown - Civil and Construction Engineering
  • Bryony Dupont - Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Jihye Park - Civil and Construction Engineering

May 13: 

  • Liney Arnadottir - Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering
  • John Parmigiani - Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Javier Calvo-Amodio - Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Kirsi Peltomäki - School of Arts & Communication
  • Ryan Contreras - Horticulture
  • Elizabeth Root - School of Arts & Communication

May 21: 

  • Minsuk Kahng - Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Rebecca Hutchinson - Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Kathy Becker-Blease  - Psychology
  • Matthew Shuman - Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Lizhong Chen - Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Task 3: Interview a thesis mentor-eligible faculty member.

This task will help support you in the process of choosing a mentor and help you to think about different mentoring styles. Finding a mentor whose expectations and style match your needs is one of the most important factors in a positive and successful thesis experience, and the interview is an opportunity to begin thinking about how a mentor can best support your thesis work. Assistant professors, associate professors, professors, and senior instructors who are tenure-track faculty at OSU are eligible to be thesis mentors. Non-tenured faculty must be approved by petition to the HC. It is important to ask your potential mentor about their tenure-track status. For other tips, see our Finding a Mentor page.

To set up an interview, contact the faculty member by email to request a 30-minute meeting. Express your interest in the potential mentor’s research. Remember when you approach potential mentors for interviews, you are only asking for a meeting. Neither of you should feel obligated to commit to a mentoring arrangement just yet. In fact, you are encouraged to repeat the interview process with several faculty members to ensure a good match.

Keep in mind how busy these professionals are. Be friendly, flexible, appreciative in all communications, and always respectful of his or her time constraints. The general protocol is to wait one week for a response to your email, then send a follow up email; if email is unsuccessful, attempt to make phone contact, then move on to other faculty members.


Task 4: Complete online ethics training.

To provide you with basic ethics training you must complete CITI training, regardless of if you plan to work with human or animals subjects. The training will help you understand some basic ethics principles and make you more aware of the situation if your future project does involve human or animal subjects.

Research institutions like OSU have oversight committees on campus to maintain vigilance over all research activity.  In most cases, this includes ethics training prior to participating in research. At Oregon State that office is the Institutional Research Board or (IRB). This general training is helpful and required but does not give you IRB approval for future projects.  Later, when you have a mentor and are developing a project, you and your mentor should discuss if your projects requires further training or IRB applications.

To complete the training:

  1. Find a block of time in your schedule to complete it. It is estimated to take approximately 3 hours, but can be completed in several sessions.
  2. Go to the Institutional Review Board's training website and click on "Required training in the Ethical Use of Humans in Research".
  3. On the CITI page, click on “register” to create an account. Affiliate your account with OSU so that your certificate of completion can be automatically forwarded to the appropriate office.
  4. Enter your personal information and create a username and password.
  5. Select 'Add a Course or Update Learner Group.'
  6. Review the Human Subjects Protection curriculum options selecting either Social/Behavioral Research Investigators and Key Personnel or Biomedical Resources.
  7. Complete curriculum as outlined.
  8. Create a PDF of your certificate of completion and upload it: IRB certificate collection

“I had to work alone on my project a majority of the time because I went into the lab at odd hours to be able to keep my class and work schedule going. My mentor adjusted her schedule…whenever I was available. She really went above and beyond all my expectations.”
-Whitney Humphrey, Honors College Class of 2010