The Honors Program in the Division of Nutritional Sciences is designed to challenge research-oriented NS, HBHS, and GPHS majors.

The Honors Program is a structured research-based experience that focuses and builds on a student’s ongoing research, and involves:

  • NS 3980, an introductory course in research (fall junior year for spring graduates)
  • Successful application to the DNS Honors Program (spring junior year for spring graduates)
  • A multi-semester independent research project, mentored by a faculty PI (junior and senior years)
  • Completion of a written thesis that reports the research (final two semesters)
  • Oral presentation of research at the DNS Undergraduate Honors Symposium (final semester)

Many DNS students participate in research through an independent study or employment, with or without applying to the DNS Honors Program. Read more about getting involved in undergraduate research and about DNS faculty researchInterested students should review the information on this page and then contact with questions.

Any DNS student (NS, HBHS, or GPHS majors, and Biological Sciences students with a Human Nutrition Concentration) is eligible to apply. DNS students may only complete an Honors thesis through the DNS Honors Program. Students in the College of Human Ecology completing the program receive a “bachelor's degree with honors in research.” Students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences completing the program receive a “bachelor's degree with distinction in research.”

What if I’m below the minimum GPA (3.2) or missed taking NS 3980? You can still apply, but success will depend on several factors such as your GPA trajectory, your prior research experience, and your ability to take NS 3980 late.

What if I missed the application deadline? Late applications, which include additional components, may be submitted for consideration until up until August 31st. See below for more details and then reach out with questions.

What if I’m working with a DNS faculty member but I'm not in a DNS major? If you are not in a DNS major (NS, HBHS or GPHS), you are not eligible for the DNS Honors Program. You will need to apply to the honors program in your home department or College.

DNS students may only complete an Honors thesis through the DNS Honors Program. Although most DNS students in the Honors Program work with DNS faculty mentors, students may also work with non-DNS faculty mentors. However, some conditions and restrictions apply (e.g. following DNS Honors Program application deadlines v. those of other programs; see below). Interested students working with non-DNS faculty mentors should contact with questions.

Learn more about the DNS Honors Program

The Honors Program offers DNS majors with strong academic records the opportunity to engage fully in a multi-semester independent research project from start to finish, culminating in an undergraduate thesis and symposium presentation. Pursuing this intensive, enriching research and writing endeavor should be weighed carefully against other goals.

An honors project is typically designed in the junior year, and often conducted in the spring junior term and fall senior term (for May graduates). The spring senior term is primarily devoted to writing the thesis (at least 25 standard pages). The student works with the faculty mentor to prepare a the thesis, which is submitted by to a second faculty member for evaluation. When comments are received from the reader, the student must revise the thesis to meet the criteria for acceptance. The student then presents their research at the Honors Student Symposium at the end of the term.

The DNS Honors Program is an in-depth structured experience involving original research and both written and oral scientific communication. As part of the Honors Program, students must meet the following requirements:

  1. Achieve and maintain minimum GPA. To graduate with honors, the student must have applied with and maintained a minimum GPA of 3.2.
  2. Take NS 3980 Research in Human Nutrition and Health (fall sophomore or junior year). 1 credit, S/U only. In addition to providing an overview of the DNS Honors Program, this course introduces the approaches and methods used by researchers, ethical considerations in research, searching and assessing the scientific literature, working with data, and more.
  3. Acceptance into a faculty member’s research program (by fall of junior year). Because applications are due in early spring of the junior year (May graduates), students should be working with a prospective faculty PI by the fall of their junior year. By the end of that semester, the student should have their own research project with clear research goals, hypothesis(es), and experimental approaches.
  4. Complete 6 credits of NS 4990: All DNS Honors students must complete a total of six credits in NS 4990 Honors Problem. Students must complete three credits of NS 4990 in each of their last two semesters. These credits are supervised by the DNS Honors Program Director and represent both a student’s research with their faculty advisor, as well as the program’s required writing tasks, and presenting their project in a research symposium. Writing tasks include a progress report, abstract, literature review, full thesis draft, and final thesis.
  5. Complete a literature review and full honors thesis (final two semesters). While registered in NS4990, students will conduct a library search, critically appraise the literature, write a literature review, and complete their honors thesis. The full honors thesis will include an abstract (~300 words), introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections (>25 pages total), references, and any tables and figures. See submission requirements and assignment descriptions section on this page for more details.
  6. Present at the DNS Honors Research Symposium (end of final semester). Honors students must attend and present their research at DNS Honors Research Symposium. This symposium takes place the end of the semester.

Students interested in applying to the DNS Honors Program should review the program requirements and reach out to with further questions. 

We recommend students to take NS3980 in the sophomore or junior year as an introductory course to research and the DNS Program. Students planning to graduate in the Spring of their senior year should apply early in the Spring semester of their junior year, and likely have been working with a faculty research advisor for at least one semester prior the application submission. 

Components of the electronic application:

  1. Survey - questionnaire about the applicant, their faculty research advisor, and research project. 
  2. The faculty advisor’s agreement attachment - must be filled and signed by your Cornell research advisor (See below link to download form). 
  3. Project description attachment - a summary of the applicant’s planned research (~500 words). It should include the details about the public health problem the research project is addressing, research question(s), study design, hypothesis, and references.
  4. A timeline including all research milestones, Honors Program deadlines, and a short description of when/how the student will meet with the research faculty advisor and their writing goals (format as desired, e.g., outline, table, or Gantt chart).

For an application to be considered all materials must be submitted by the due deadline. Spring applications are due on March 22nd, 5:00 PM EST. Fall (late) applications are due on August 31st, 5:00 PM EST and have additional requirements (see below for details). 

Late applications: Applications to the DNS Program that are submitted early in the Fall semester are considered late applications and are subject to a more stringent review. Namely, late applicants and their mentors will have to demonstrate the student’s readiness to complete an honors thesis on a shorter timeline. 

Late applications must also include:

  1. A detailed description of the research project (~3 pages) - The general description should include information about the research project (e.g., research goals, hypothesis, and study design), but also details of the work completed to date, plans for data analysis, and a descriptive timeline. The latter should include plans on how the student will catch up with the Honors Program's deadlines. 
  2. Letter of support from the faculty research advisor (~1-2 pages) - In this letter  the faculty research advisor should describe how the student’s research to date supports their ability to complete a strong Honors thesis on the necessary timeline. For example, a faculty mentor should describe the length and nature of the work, relevant knowledge, skills, or professional characteristics the student has demonstrated, and the faculty member’s assertion that the necessary work can be completed on the Honors Program timeline.

Applying to complete an Honors thesis with a non-DNS research group: Within some constraints, it is possible for DNS students to complete an Honors thesis under the mentorship of a non-DNS faculty advisor (e.g. one in Food Science, Human Development, or Biological Sciences). In general, these students are held to the same requirements—namely, deadlines for applying and turning in thesis components as well as completing NS 3980 and presenting their research. 

DNS Research Honors Program electronic application

DNS Undergraduate Research Honors Program advisor agreement form (to be completed only by faculty research advisor)

Submission requirements

Honors Program materials are only considered submitted and on time if they are:

  1. Formatted correctly: 
    Criteria Required formatting
    Page size US letter (8.5” x 11”)
    Margins 1” all sides
    Font Arial or Times New Roman
    Font size 11 or 12 points
    Font color/Background Black/White
    Spacing double-spaced (all sections)
    Page numbers Right bottom corner, all pages but cover page in the thesis
  2. Submitted with faculty advisor approval: This essential step indicates that a faculty advisor has already read, reviewed, and approved the final submitted document. This can be demonstrated either 1) by a faculty advisor’s official digital signature (i.e., secure and time-stamped) on the submitted pdf or 2) by copying the faculty advisor on the submission email. In the latter case, the faculty member must reply directly to the Honors Program Director indicating this approval and must do so by the deadline.
  3. Labeled correctly: Files should be labeled with the format “LastName Assignment GradSemester” in both the document name and in the header text on each document page. See table below for example of Jane Doe graduating on Spring 2023.
    Component File name format Example
    Application materials Lastname Application GradSemester Doe Application S23
    Progress report Lastname ProgRep GradSemester Doe ProgRep S23
    Abstract and literature review Lastname Abst LitRev GradSemester Doe Abst LitRev S23
    Full thesis draft Lastname Draft GradSemester Doe Draft S23
    Final thesis Lastname Final Thesis GradSemester Doe Finial Thesis S23
    Thesis revisions Lastname Thesis Revisions GradSemester Doe Thesis Revisions S23
    Symposium presentation Lastname Symposium GradSemester Doe Symposium S23

Assignment Descriptions

Each assignment and each component of the full thesis has a specific purpose and a typical length. These are described below.

Progress report. A document that clearly and comprehensively outlines the student’s progress made to date, tasks remaining, and an updated timeline. Any changes that were made to the project since the proposal abstract was submitted must be documented at this time. The text portion (i.e. not including the timeline) should be at least 1 and no more than 3 standard pages.

Abstract and literature review. The literature review and abstract should be related to the entire thesis in its current (updated) form. 

The abstract (~300 words) should be on a single separate page (use a page break) from the literature review but saved in the same word/pdf file. Key sections to include in the abstract are research goals/objectives, hypotheses, methods, results, and conclusions.   

The literature review should give the reader a comprehensive understanding of the scientific literature related to the thesis topic, while also demonstrating the student’s capacity to summarize, reflect, and critically evaluate primary literature that is relevant to the research question. The literature review is expected to be about 4-5 standard pages, depending on the research topic.

Full thesis draft. A polished, reviewer-ready draft to be turned over to a thesis reader for review and comments (>25 pages, not including references, tables, and figures). The full thesis draft includes several components that are listed and described briefly below.

  • Title page. Separate page. Include your thesis title, name, research mentor(s), any source(s) of funding, and the date on which the draft is submitted.
  • Abstract. Separate page. In its final form, this abstract should summarize background, objective, methods, results, and conclusion (maximum 300 words).
  • Introduction. The introduction provides the reader with the essential pieces of background information they need to understand what was done and why. The introduction section should draw from the literature review, but be more concise and targeted to the specific thesis (maximum 3 pages).
  • Methods. Describe any methods and materials used, including but not limited to study design, recruitment, data collection, assays or other procedures, and statistical models. Someone reading this section should be able to understand and replicate what you did.
  • Results. Report only your findings; do not discuss or interpret them (“just the facts”). Where appropriate and helpful, include tables and figures.
  • Discussion. Interpret your results (what might they mean?), place them within the related literature (did your work reflect others’ findings or not? what did it add?), suggest future directions in research, clinical practice, and/or policy, and relay the strengths and limitations of your work. Be careful not to just restate results here.
  • Conclusions. Presents takeaway messages in summary statements of key contributions and implications.
  • References. Separate page. These must be formatted consistently and accurately in the style of your choice.
  • Tables and figures. Separate pages, included after the References section. Each should include a title and caption, and should be referenced within the thesis text.

Final thesis with all corrections/revisions. Work with your faculty mentor to incorporate your reviewer’s feedback to improve your thesis. Turn in two documents:

  • Your final thesis, including all of the components described above
  • A separate report describing how you responded to the reviewer’s feedback as well as any other revisions or additional work completed since the draft was submitted

Honors research symposium. Students must present their honors thesis at the end of the semester in the DNS Honors Research Symposium. The presentation should reflect the thesis structure, including a background/introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusions sections, as well as an acknowledgment slide. Presentations are typically scheduled for a ~25-minute time slot with 5 minutes for Q&A. All students must stay for the presentations of others.

Application deadlines. To be considered for the DNS Honors program ALL application materials must be submitted by the application deadlines. Submission are due by 5:00 PM (EST) on the listed dates.

Fall submissions are considered as late applications and required additional documentation. Review the “How to apply to the Honors Program” section for additional details.

Semester Deadline
Spring March 22nd
Fall August 31st


Written tasks Deadline
Progress report September 30th
Abstract and literature review Last day of classes (1st semester taking NS 4990)
Full thesis draft End of seven-week classes (2nd semester taking NS 4990)
Revised thesis/final thesis Last day of classes (2nd semester taking NS 4990)
Symposium presentation End of the semester (2nd semester taking NS 4990). Details will be given through the NS 4990 Canvas website.

Note to late applicants: Students admitted to the DNS Honors Program  in the Fall semester are expected to meet the above deadlines. 


  • Efficacy of B-Vitamin Supplementation in Stroke and Hypertension, Amer Ahmed (Mentor: Dr. Martha Field)
  • Adherence to a Mediterranean diet during the adolescent reproductive transition, Aprile Bertomo (Mentor: Dr. Marla Lujan)
  • Epidemiological Prevalence and Tissue Tropism of PcaFV infection in Apostichopus californicus, Jameson Crandell (Mentor: Dr. Ian Hewson)
  • Dietary Patterns of Adults of Northern European and East Asian Ancestry and Estimation of Heme Iron Intake, Clara Deley (Mentor: Dr. Kimberly O'Brien)
  • Investigating the Role of Placental NCOA4 in Iron Metabolism Among At-Risk Pregnant Populations, Chloe Hasund (Mentor: Dr. Kimberly O'Brien)
  • Global-local processing in Toddlers: Stability Over Time in a Touch Screen ChoiceTasks, Radiah Khandokar (Mentor: Dr. Marianella Casasola)
  • Effect of Folate and Vitamin B12 on Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial, Sabrina Liew (Mentor: Dr. Martha Field)
  • SIRT5 loss alters extracellular vesicle production by cancer cells through altered protein glycosylation, Tanmay Mehta (Mentor: Dr. Robert S. Weiss)
  • Caregiver assessment in the primary care setting: What motivates physicians to address caregiver needs?, Taeyoung Park (Mentors: Dr. Catherine Riffin and Dr. Corinna Loeckenhoff)
  • Assessment of RNA in situ hybridization for pathology-based diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis: comparison to the current diagnostic gold standard and investigation of potential overlap with SARS-CoV-2, Arjun N. Sweet (Mentor: Dr. Gary Whittaker)
  • The Characterization of STING in Endosomal TLR Signaling in Autoimmune Diseases, Alexandra Woo (Mentor: Dr. Cynthia Leifer)

Class of 2021 Honors research projects

  • Information Avoidance in Decision Making: Do Avoidance Tendencies and Motives Vary by Age?, Stephanie Deng (Mentor: Dr. Corinna Loeckenhoff)
  • Adolescents' Proxy Reports on Obesity-Related Parenting Practices: Factorial Validity and Reliability Across Four Behavioral Domains, Gabe Fuligni (Mentor: Dr. Roger Figueroa)
  • The effects of Toxoplasma gondii on Olfactory Sensitivity and Behavior, Jun Park (Mentor: Dr. Margaret Bynoe)
  • The Role of SIRT5 in Regenerating and Mature Skeletal Muscle, Rebekah Epstein (Mentor: Dr. Martha Field and Dr. Anna Thalacker-Mercer)
  • Understanding the Dynamics of Family Drug Treatment Court in Tompkins County, Pearlanna Zapotocky (Mentor: Dr. Laura Tach)
  • A structured literature review, meta-analysis and mediation analysis exploring the use of daily self-weighing to reduce systolic and diastolic hypertension, Melvin Alexander (Mentor: Dr. David Levitsky)
  • Thinking About Health Status?, Pauniz Salehi (Mentor: Dr. Robert Sternberg)
  • Proportions of leukocyte cell types in bovine colostrum and their dynamics as colostrum transitions to mature milk, Jessica Cha (Mentor: Dr. Sabine Mann)
  • Inhibition of ITK Amplifies Proinflammatory Cytokine Expression in a Murine Model of Saccharopolyspora rectivirgula-induced Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, Alexia Kim (Mentor: Dr. Avery August)
  • Glymphatics-on-a-chip to Reconstitute Alzheimer’s Disease Pathogenesis, Paul Soden (Mentor: Dr. Esak Lee)
  • Neighborhood Support and Wellbeing: Does College Belonging Matter?, Amber Tan (Mentor: Dr. Marlen Gonzalez)
  • The Creation of a Database for the Heme Iron Content of Foods and Preliminary Nutrition Analysis of the First 75 Participants of FeGenes Study, Fernanda Nunes (Mentor: Dr. Kimberly O’Brien)
  • DHRS7: A Candidate for Thermogenic Activation in Brown Adipose Tissue, Seldoen Oshoe (Mentor: Dr. Joeva Barrow)

Class of 2020 Honors Research Projects

  • Examining the Effects of the Hepatocyte Specific Tgr5 Knockout on Glucose Homeostasis, Margot Chirikjian (Mentor: Bethany Cummings)
  • Developing an Action Plan to Support Breastfeeding in Tompkins County, NY, Nicole Cunningham (Mentor: Kathleen Rasmussen)
  • Mechanisms Leading to Erythritol-Associated Weight Gain, Rodrigo Gutierrez (Mentor: Martha Field)
  • The Impact of Increasing Access to Nutrition Education and Healthy Snacks on Snacking Patterns of Patients with Chronic Diseases at the Ithaca Free Clinic, Chiamaka (Deborah) Ijebuonwu (Mentor: Anna Thalacker-Mercer)
  • Are There Racial Disparities in Female STEMI Mortality Rates?, Cheryl Kalapura (Mentor: Sean Nicholson)
  • Fiber and Grain Intake from Snacking and Associations with Weight Status among U.S. Adolescents: NHANES 2005-2016, Elizabeth Kane (Mentor: Tashara Leak)
  • Investigating the Role of DEAD-Box Helicases on the Translation of mRNAs with Secondary Structures in Different Regions, Kevin Lin (Mentor: Shu-Bing Qian) 

Class of 2019 Honors Research Projects

  • Adherence to Vitamin D Supplementation Guidelines in Hospitalized Baffin Island Infants from 2007-2017, Nina Acharya. (Mentor: Saurabh Mehta)
  • Is coffee consumption associated with academic performance amongst undergraduate students?, Sara Jumabhoy. (Mentor: Jeffery Sobal)
  • The Effect of Reducing the Portion Size of an Entrée on the Amount of Dessert Consumed, Nicole Agaronnik. (Mentor:David Levitsky)
  • Curriculum for a Cause: An Examination of the Brothers as Allies Pilot Project and its Impact on Attitudes and Behaviors Associated with Sexual Violence Perpetration and Prevention, Delaney Ding. (Mentor:Janis Whitlock)
  • The Mediating Role of Inhibitory Control on Childhood Poverty and Economic Decision-Making, Lucie Fan. (Mentor:Gary Evans)
  • Alternative Entry Pathways of Ebola Virus, and Doxycycline as a Potential Inhibitor, Malia Mackey. (Mentor:Gary Whittaker)
  • Associations between 25(OH)D Status in Pregnant Women and Bowel Health Indicators using NHANES Data 2005-10, Mira Ramesh. (Mentor:Saurabh Mehta)

Class of 2018 Honors Research Projects

  • Kin Attraction and Repulsion in Bacteria: Optimal Spacing and Gap Formation, Michele Dell’Aquila. (Mentors: Hudson Kern Reeve and Bryan Swingle)
  • Is Stigmatization of Disabilities and Overweight Changing? Analysis of Repeated Use of a measurement Sale over Historical Time, Chelsea Kennard. (Mentor: Jeffery Sobal)
  • The Effect of Hydroxyapatite Particles in Late Stage Calcific Aortic Valve Disease, Andrea Lo. (Mentor: Jonathan Butcher)
  • Intra-amniotic administration of black bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) prebiotic extracts affects the cecal microflora and brush border membrane functionality in broiler chickens (Gallus gallus), Michelle Ma. (Mentor: Elad Tako)
  • Evaluating the effect of carioca beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) prebiotic extracts on iron-related brush border membrane proteins and intestinal bacterial populations in vivo (Gallusgallus), Sybil Sha. (Mentor: Elad Tako)
  • The Effects of Mating on Blood Meal Size and Blood Feeding Behavior in the Arbovirus Vector Mosquito, Aedes aegypti, Erica Tennant. (Mentors: Patsy Brannon and Laura Harrington)

Class of 2017 Honors Research Projects

  • Effects of Self-Weighing on Responses to Health Questionnaires, Nana Entsiwa Adenu-Mensah. (Mentor: David Levitsky)
  • Association of childhood parental control over feeding practices with chocolate eating behavior in college-aged females, Cody Goldsmith. (Mentor: Jeff Sobal)
  • The determinants and effects of uracil misincorporation in DNA, Jabez Gondokusumo. (Mentors: Patrick Stover, Martha Field)
  • Anthropometry and Dengue Fever in CoastalEcuador, Julia Tedesco. (Mentor: Julia Finkelstein)
  • Characterization of the alpha-tocopherylquinone-omega-hydroxylase activity of CYP4F2 and human liver microsomes, Sloan Lynch. (Mentor: Bob Parker)
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy in a Mouse Model of Perturbed Folate Metabolism, Danny Zheng. (Mentors: Patrick Stover, Martha Field)
  • Factors Associated with Pica Behavior During Pregnancy and Postpartum Among a Cohort of Women in Western Kenya, Joshua Miller. (Mentor: Sera Young)
  • Characterization of vascular smooth muscle cell contractile phenotypes in response to wall shear stress in the pharyngeal arch arteries, Jessica Ryvlin. (Mentor: Jonathan Butcher)