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Graduate Student Capstone Research

Capstone Projects

Next start date is July 15th. Applying is easy and free!

Build relationships.

Conduct ground-breaking research.

We believe hands-on learning should be part of every college curriculum. And as a Unity Environmental University Master’s degree student, you’ll want to dive into research meaningful to you and your career. At Unity you’ll work on transdisciplinary projects, forming strong connections with faculty and organizations in your field.

Solve complex problems. Apply online.

The world needs problem-solvers like you.

From saving endangered giraffes to studying climate change effects on Alaska’s wildlands, our students and faculty are stepping up to address today’s most pressing environmental issues.

Explore some of our recent graduates’ work:

Recent Capstone Research Projects from Master’s Programs

  • Brazilian Waterweed in Fence Rock Lake

    Summer Stebbins, Master’s in Environmental GIScience

    Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa) is an invasive aquatic plant from South America. It is often spread illegally through the aquarium trade because of its beauty. Unfortunately, aquarium dumping is a huge problem and can introduce this invasive species across the United States. Identifying characteristics of Brazilian waterweed include their white flowers and whorled leaves of four.

    Learn more about this project. Or, discover what you can do with a M.S. in Environmental GIScience.

  • Food Access in Denton, Texas

    Sherry Stevens, Master’s in Environmental GIScience

    One-third of all the world’s food goes to waste (UN 2019). This waste happens in every step of the cycle, from food production to consumer waste. Still, many people are food insecure or have difficulty accessing healthy foods. Factory farming and food distribution create pollution through growing, processing, and transportation. Coupled with climate change, farming is a financial and environmental risk.

    See why creating a sustainable food base is critical, and how permaculture farms can help.

    Find solutions like these. Earn a M.S. in Environmental GIScience.

  • The Twiga Walinzi Initiative

    Jenna Stacy-Dawes, Master’s in Environmental GIScience

    In 2016, San Diego Zoo Global; the Giraffe Conservation Foundation; Northern Rangelands Trust; Loisaba, Namunyak, and Lewa Conservancies; the Nature Conservancy; Sarara Camp; and others, partnered with the Kenya Wildlife Service. These groups launched a community-lead conservation effort in northern Kenya to help save the reticulated giraffe species from extinction.

    Learn more about giraffes in Africa and see what’s being done to increase their population.

    You too can help endangered species. Earn a M.S. in Environmental GIScience.

  • The Future of Alaska’s Wild Places

    Emma Bouchard, Master’s in Environmental GIScience

    While Alaska is home to some of the largest tracts of wildlands in the world, it’s also the site of some of the most threatened. Dual pressures of climate change and resource development have placed many of Alaska’s wildlands at a pivotal moment in history.

    Learn more about the challenges Alaska faces and start earning your master’s degree to make a difference.

  • A Framework for Monitoring Nightjars in Maine

    Logan Parker, Master’s in Sustainable Natural Resource Management

    Maine’s nightjars, the Eastern Whip-poor-will and the Common Nighthawk, are in decline throughout their entire breeding ranges. The extent of the decline in Maine is currently unknown. Monitoring efforts have sprung up throughout the country in response to widespread anecdotal reports of declines. This has led to conservation prioritization of these species in several states and provinces.

    Get involved in work like this by earning a M.S. in Wildlife Conservation and Management.

  • Pollinator Gardens

    Sue Opperman, Master’s in Sustainable Natural Resource Management

     Opperman’s capstone project focused on pollinator gardens and has led her to work on installing a pocket park in her neighborhood with native pollinator plant landscaping. She has created a state-wide advocacy group that helps people with native gardens, coordinated with the city to incorporate native landscaping into city managed areas, and has begun a campaign to have a native flower named as the official flower of the city.

    Learn how you can make strides in your community with a master’s degree.

  • Impact of Riverside Homeless Encampments on Water Quality

    Wade Leonard, Master’s in Sustainable Natural Resource Management

    Homeless encampments have developed along the Santa Ana River Watershed in the region of Riverside, CA (Guerre, 2018). The Inland Empire Waterkeeper (IEW) organization has developed the Clean Camp Coalition (CCC) program in order to reduce environmental effects from trash dumping in the river.

    The IEW found a decline in water quality from trash dumping (Guerre, 2018). The IEW sought to mitigate these effects with trash collection assistance and homeless outreach services. An assessment of this program’s methodology was conducted to compare the program’s effectiveness and results with similar existing programs. Results have indicated that the river’s water quality has remained relatively constant following the implementation of the CCC’s riverside trash cleanup project.

    Research topics like this one. Earn your master’s degree.

  • Plant Palettes for Enhancing Biodiversity and Conserving Water

    Kendra Armitage, Master’s in Environmental Studies & Sustainability

    This project developed plant palettes for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department for problem areas to help guide the horticultural staff in selecting appropriate species that build habitat and serve a specific function in the city parks. The problem areas addressed in this project are dog play areas, barrier plantings, child play areas, entrances and perimeters, and gopher prone areas. Research on climate change, pollinator and bird habitats and diet preferences, and plasticity of the plant species helped me select plants that will thrive in a changing climate, increase habitat, require no water once established, and look good.

    Kendra’s presentation is available at

  • Recommendations for Improving the Pikes Peak Region (PPR) 2030 Sustainability Plan

    Konrad Schlarbaum, Master’s in Environmental Studies & Sustainability

    The Pikes Peak region has yet to realize the many benefits of having an improved sustainability plan. Communities can become more sustainable and resilient through improving their understanding of the interdependencies among the economy, environment, and society (Irwin et al., 2017; Rajaonson and Tanguay, 2019). They can more effectively address a multitude of complex issues emerging from rapid urbanization (Wheeler, 2009). The Pikes Peak region can conduct long-term planning, better understand resource limits, and foster a sense of place (Wheeler, 2009). A regional plan can encourage cities, businesses, and organizations to coalesce around common sustainability goals. The largest city in the region, Colorado Springs, plans to adopt the new plan’s goals. 

    Konrad’s presentation is available here.

  • Northeast Florida Land Acquisition Through the Florida Forever Program

    Stephanie Massey, Master’s in Environmental Geographic Information Science

    The population of Florida continues to rise annually, just as it has for the past seven decades. Due to the economic reliance on tourism, the state began conserving land in the 1960s, evolving its programs throughout the rest of the century. Using the current program, Florida Forever, I assisted North Florida Land Trust, NFLT, in completing three boundary amendments for Black Creek Managed Lands. The proposal boundaries are near Black Creek in Clay County, Florida. The stream flooded after a hurricane at historic recorded levels, causing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, to establish some parcels inhabitable.


    Stephanie’s storymap is at

Find the field of your interest and begin your research. Browse all graduate programs and apply online today.

Last Updated on June 21, 2024