Shaping the Future of Geosciences

The Excellence of the Undergraduate Honors Research Program

You’re probably aware of the many initiatives at the Jackson School of Geosciences, but we want to highlight the Undergraduate Honors Research Program (UHRP). Known for its excellence, the UHRP showcases outstanding student research, with some works published in prestigious journals. Since 2006, it has graduated 131 students who’ve pursued diverse careers, from carbon capture and storage to improving energy efficiency to researching the impacts of droughts and floods. The UHRP stands out for creating exceptional opportunities for students, fostering a supportive environment that propels geoscience research forward, and preparing future geoscientists to lead and innovate in our complex world.

Urhp Arthur's Seat 2015
UHRP 2015 trip to Scotland, pictured at Arthur’s Seat


  • Approximately 50% of our students secure external funding for their research. The Jackson School matches these funds, demonstrating our strong commitment to research.
  • Since 2015, our students have presented their research at more than 50 national and international meetings, including prestigious conferences like AGU, GSA, LPSC, EGU, SVP, and SEG.
  • Around 70% of our students have presented at these conferences since 2015, reflecting the program’s consistent success.


  • About 13% of our program participants have published their thesis work in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
  • Our students have been first authors in high-impact journals such as EPSL, J Sed Research, American Min, Geophysics, and Geomorphology.
  • Many of our students have received prestigious fellowships, including NSF GRFP and DOE Computational Science Grad Fellowships.


Natalie Raia 2
Natalie Raia, B.S. ’16, in the high-temperature stable isotope lab at the Jackson School of Geosciences, measuring oxygen isotopes in serpentinite rocks from the island of Syros, Greece, using laser fluorination.

Natalie Raia, B.S. ’16 shared her experience, saying, “I would not be where I am today without the faculty and graduate mentors, curriculum, and institutional support provided through the Undergraduate Honors Research Program. This program presented me with research and career support at a critical period in my undergraduate degree, and fostered collaborations and a network that still have a positive impact on my career today.” Natalie is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the iSchool of Information at the University of Arizona. 

Rose Palermo
Rose Palermo, PhD, is a Research Geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey at the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center.

Rose Palermo, B.S. ’16, says, “My experience in the UHRP solidified my dream to become a geoscience researcher. The foundational education and practical experience in independent research it provided gave me the confidence and skills to begin my career.”

Support and Contact Information

If you’re interested in supporting the UHRP, please contact Courtney Vletas, Director of Donor and Alumni Engagement, at The primary endowment supporting the UHRP is the Carlson Research Excellence Fund, formed in honor of Emeritus Professor Bill Carlson, one of the founders of UHRP.

For more details about the Undergraduate Honors Research Program and to connect with our Honor Advisors, Dr. Jaime Barnes and Dr. Richard Ketcham, visit our program page.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates as we continue to nurture the future leaders of geosciences!