Join via Zoom

1:00 PM  The Impact of Increasing Access to Nutritional Education on Snacking Patterns of Patients with Chronic Diseases at the Ithaca Free Clinic. Chiamaka Ijebuonwu (Mentor: Anna Thalacker-Mercer)

1:20 PM  Fiber and Grain Intake from Snacking and Associations with Weight Status among US Adolescents | Elizabeth Kane (Mentor: Tashara Leak)

1:40 PM  Investigating the Role of DEAD-Box Helicases on the Translation of mRNAs with Secondary Structures In Different Regions | Kevin Lin (Mentor: Shu-Bing Qian)

2:00 PM  Examining the Effects of the Hepatocyte Specific Tgr5 Knockout on Glucose Homeostasis | Margot Chirikjian  (Mentor: Bethany Cummings)

2:20 PM  Are There Racial Disparities in Female STEMI Mortality Rates? | Cheryl Kalapura (Mentor: Sean Nicholson)

2:40 PM  Developing an Action Plan to Support Breastfeeding in Tompkins County, NY. | Nicole Cunningham (Mentor: Kathleen Rasmussen)

All are welcome to join. Contact with questions.

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

This structured research-based experience involves four general components:

  • the conduct of a research project, in which a student has major role and intellectual engagement in the whole research process (JUNIOR and SENIOR years)
  • a course in research, NS 3980 (JUNIOR year)
  • the completion of a written thesis that reports the research (SENIOR year)
  • an oral presentation of the project at the DNS Undergraduate Honors Symposium (SENIOR year).

You also may do undergraduate research through an independent study or employment.

Read more about faculty and student research. Field experience helps you put theory into practice and lets you explore different career opportunities. You may earn credit for field experience in Ithaca or another location. 

Interested students should contact the Director of the Honors Program, Dr. Julia Felice.

Any DNS student (NS, HBHS, or GPHS majors, and Biological Sciences students with a Human Nutrition Concentration). 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.”

Although nearly all 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 Dr. Julia Felice (Kinzelberg Hall B36B) as soon as possible to discuss this option.

Faculty Advisor Agreement Form


  1. This form (click link above to the find the form) is to be filled out only by the Honors thesis advisor.
  2. Digital copies of this form must be emailed to Dr. Julia Felice by the Honors thesis advisor directly ( Paper copies of this form must include physical (i.e. not digital) initials and signature.
  3. This form one of three components of a student’s application to the DNS Honors Program, and is due on the same deadline as the student’s application form and project abstract. Applications will not be considered until all materials have been submitted.

Learn more about the DNS Honors Program

The Honors Research Program is an excellent opportunity for students who are highly interested in research and wish to commit substantial time and intellectual energy to a project that will span at least 4 semesters of their undergraduate experience. Honors students experience the excitement of designing a project to generate new knowledge on a topic that interests them and reporting the project findings. By working with faculty mentors and other researchers, they develop skills in research methods and data analysis. Students also learn that research projects are labor intensive and that writing research reports, such as the honors thesis, is a vital, but time-consuming aspect of the research process. This intensive research experience is not suitable for all students, and those who wish a less intensive research experience may conduct research with a faculty member under NS 4010, Empirical Research

The honors research program provides a structured experience involving original research with a demonstrated level of achievement in coursework and a genuine interest in exploring research. As part of the honors research program, students must meet the following requirements:

1. NS 3980 Research in Human Nutrition and Health (junior year). 1 credit, S/U grade only, Fall semester. Students are advised to complete NS 3980 by the fall of the junior year. This course focuses on the structures and practice of professional research conducted in human nutrition and health. It introduces the various approaches and methods used by researchers, the topics of ethics and research controls, the structure of the scientific literature, preparation of research proposals, roles of scientific organizations, and funding sources.

2. Acceptance into a faculty member’s research program (by fall of junior year). Students spend the spring sophomore and fall junior term exploring honors project opportunities with prospective 86 faculty mentors. Students are responsible for contacting faculty members and applying to their research programs, although some guidance in this process will be provided in NS 3980. By the fall of the junior year, the student is expected to have identified their faculty member and be working with them on a proposal abstract, which is due early in the spring junior term for May graduates.

3. Completion of 6 credits of NS 4990 Honors Problem (final two semesters). Students receive academic credit for work on their honors project under NS 4990 (often 3 credits in each of the last two semesters). How much time is spent on the project each term will be the decision of the student and the faculty mentor. For each 3-4 hours of work, the faculty mentor usually will assign one hour of academic credit, which applies to the preparation of the research plan, the necessary library research (usually completed during the junior year), the carrying out of the research and analysis itself, and the preparation of the thesis.

4. Complete an honors thesis & present at the Honors Student Symposium (final two semesters). The honors research project comprises the major component of the honors research program. It should be well defined and sufficiently circumscribed to give the student the opportunity to develop the research plan, execute the research and write an acceptable thesis (> 25 pages) within the limited time available to students carrying full academic loads. Please note that a student’s “major role” in this process means considerable effort in the execution of the project plus intellectual engagement in all stages of a project (conception, planning, execution, interpretation, and reporting). An honors project is typically designed early in the junior year, and conducted in the spring junior term and fall senior term (for May graduates). Students may also arrange to work on the project during the summer. Typically, the spring senior term is primarily devoted to writing the thesis (at least 25 pages). The student works with the faculty mentor to prepare a draft of the thesis, which is submitted by spring break 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 presents the thesis at the Honors Student Symposium at the end of the term.

5. Achieve satisfactory GPA for Honors Research Program. To graduate with honors, the student must maintain the minimum GPA required for the Honors Research Program (> 3.2).

6. Meet all program requirements and deadlines. To graduate with honors, the student must meet all program requirements and deadlines as set by the director of the honors program (see Deadlines below). Students are responsible for meeting deadlines, and missing deadlines without prior approval is grounds for being dropped from the honors program. Students who do not meet all honors program requirements may still receive academic credit for research work under NS 4990 if recommended by the student’s faculty mentor.

*** Waivers of ANY of these items, especially deadlines, can only be approved by prior, written request to the Director of the DNS Honors Program. ***

Students interested in the program should review the program requirements, take NS 3980 in the sophomore or junior years, and speak with the honors program director. Application to the program typically occurs in February of the junior year (or September of the junior year for students planning to graduate a semester early), and a student’s work with their honors thesis mentor typically begins at least 1 semester prior to that point.

  • Application to the program includes: 1) the application form, 2) the faculty advisor agreement form, and 3) a project description with timeline. All components should be turned in simultaneously by the application deadline (see Submission Guidelines and Assignment Descriptions and Deadlines sections below). Applications will not be considered until all materials are complete.
  • Acceptance into the honors research program occurs when the student: 1) is accepted into a faculty member’s research program, 2) submits an application (including a description of their proposed research proposal abstract) and an advisor approval form, and 3) is approved by the director of the honors research program.

Late Applications: Applications to the DNS Honors Program may be submitted after the application deadline has passed. The final date on which late applications or revisions to earlier application materials may be submitted is the Add deadline of the semester prior to the applicant's expected semester of graduation - e.g. the Fall 2020 Add deadline for an expected Spring 2021 graduate. As a result, incomplete applications and any revisions that would be necessary will not be accepted beyond this final deadline.

Late applications 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. As a result, late applicants must submit—along with their other application materials—two additional items:

  1. A detailed project description and timeline. Students should submit a detailed description of their completed work on their honors thesis research to date, including whether any statistical analyses have been planned or completed. Students should also provide a detailed, descriptive timeline for how they will “catch up” to the honors program deadlines.
  2. A detailed letter of support from their faculty mentor. This letter should illustrate whether and how the student’s work with that faculty mentor to date supports their ability to complete an honors thesis on time. For example, a faculty mentor should describe the length and nature of their student’s work, the relevant knowledge and skills their student has acquired in that work, and their assessment of their student’s personal ability—e.g., their work ethic or level of independence—to complete an honors thesis on time.

Non-DNS Research Groups: Students interested in applying to the Honors program using their non-DNS research should contact Dr. Felice ASAP in their sophomore or junior year for more information. 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—but individual details are arranged with Dr. Felice.

DNS Undergraduate Research Honors Program application form


Submission Guidelines

The completion of an honors thesis requires the submission of multiple components, which are due throughout a student’s last three semesters at Cornell. Guidelines for formatting and submitting each component, as well as descriptions of the components themselves, are provided below.

Honors Program materials will be considered “submitted” and “on time” if and only if they are in either .docx or .pdf format and:

  1. Fully formatted “standard pages” = 12 pt. Times New Roman, double-spaced with 1” margins, including line numbers and page numbers.
  2. Submitted with faculty approval: Paper copies signed by faculty research mentors are no longer accepted. Instead, Honors students now have two options to submit approved materials. Students may copy their faculty research mentors in their email submission of Honors materials; in this case, the faculty member must respond that they approve the materials as submitted by the deadline for the submission to be considered on time. Alternatively, students may submit .pdfs that include their faculty mentor's official (i.e. secure and time-stamped) digital signature by the deadline and, in this case, should still copy their faculty mentors but do not need faculty members to email their approval.
  3. Labeled correctly: Use the general format “Name Assignment GradSemester” (see table below) as the document name as well as the header text on each document page. Include page numbers in the footers.
Labeling Guidelines for Honors documents: example “Ezra Tompkins” graduating in Spring 2020
Component File name format Example
Proposal abstract Lastname Abstract gradsemester Tompkins Abstract S21
Progress report Lastname ProgRep gradsemester Tompkins ProgRep S21
1-paragraph abstract and literature review Lastname LitRev gradsemester Tompkins LitRev S21
Full thesis draft Lastname Draft gradsemester Tompkins Draft S21
Final thesis Lastname Final Thesis gradsemester Tompkins Final Thesis S21
Thesis revisions Lastname Thesis Revisions gradsemester Tompkins Thesis Revisions S21
Symposium presentation Lastname Symposium gradsemester Tompkins Symposium S21


Assignment Descriptions

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

Project description and timeline. To be turned in along with honors program application and advisor approval form. The project description must include the proposed project title, the general topic of study and its importance, the specific aims, research question(s), and/or hypothesis(es), the general design and methodological approach, and the expected outcome. The project timeline should include all research tasks, writing tasks, and deadlines for the Honors Program, providing time for feedback from research mentors as well as unexpected challenges. The project description and timeline are not considered binding, but any proposed changes should be discussed with Dr. Felice as soon as possible. (250-500 words, with at least 3-5 key citations)

Application form. A form turned in with the project abstract and advisor agreement form that outlines the basic application information: student information, proposed thesis mentor and title, etc. See How to Apply to the Honors Program above.

Advisor agreement. A form turned in with the application and project abstract that describes the duties related to faculty mentorship, and allows faculty members to affirm their understanding of these duties and their support of the proposed honors student. How to Apply to the Honors Program above.

Progress report. A document that clearly and comprehensively outlines the student’s progress made to date, tasks remaining, and an updated and detailed timeline. Any changes that were made to the project since the proposal abstract was submitted must be documented at this time. (~500 words, not including timeline)

Literature review and a 1-paragraph abstract. The literature review and abstract should relate to the entire thesis in its current (updated) form. The literature review chapter should give the reader a comprehensive understanding of the scientific literature related to and leading to the thesis topic. Thesis readers will be identified based on the abstract. (~4-5 standard pages, depending on topic)

Full thesis draft. To be turned over to a thesis reader for review and comments; at least 25 standard pages in total, not including tables, figures, and references. The full thesis draft includes several components (in addition to any tables and/or figures) that are listed below and also described in more detail in the article “Guidelines for Writing a Research Paper for Publication.” (at least 25 standard pages, not including tables, figures, and references)

  • Title page. Include your thesis title, name, research mentor(s), any source(s) of funding, and the date on which the draft is submitted.
  • Abstract. In its final form, this abstract should summarize background, objective, methods, results, and conclusion (maximum 300 words). Abstracts should be single-spaced in the full thesis; all other components of the thesis should be double-spaced.
  • 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.

Final thesis and a record of 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 (at least 25 standard pages, not including tables, figures, and references)
  • A separate record of how you responded to each of the reviewer’s comments as well as any other revisions or additional work completed since the draft was submitted. This record includes one or both of the following:
    • A separate copy of your thesis with your inserted comments. To do this in Word, highlight the relevant section of text, click the Review tab, and then click Comment. To do this in Adobe, click the sticky note icon and insert next to the relevant text.
    • A separate document (Word or Excel) listing each reviewer comment, your response to it, and the relevant page and/or line numbers.

Honors research symposium. Students must give a PowerPoint presentation of their honors thesis research (~25 minutes plus 5 minutes for Q&A) and must attend the presentations of at least three other honors students. This presentation should reflect thesis structure, including Background/Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions sections, as well as an Acknowledgements slide.

  • General deadlines for honors students are listed below, where each column represents the due dates for students planning to graduate in the semester listed at the top of the column.

  • Late applications do not change these deadlines: late admits to the honors program are expected to meet all deadlines that arise after their admittance.
  • See Submission Guidelines and Assignment Descriptions for other important information.
Component and General Deadline Graduating Spring 2021 Graduating Fall 2021 Graduating Spring 2022 Graduating Fall 2022 Graduating Spring 2023
Regular application deadline Spring 2020 Drop deadline (3/17/20) Fall 2020 Drop deadline (10/28/2020) Spring 2021 Drop deadline Fall 2021 Drop deadline Spring 2022 Drop deadline
Final late application deadline Fall 2020 Add deadline (9/16/2020) Spring 2021 Add deadline Fall 2021 Add deadline Spring 2022 Add deadline Fall 2022 Add deadline
Progress report Fall 2020 Add deadline + 3 weeks (10/7/2020) Spring 2021 Add deadline + 3 weeks Fall 2021 Add deadline + 3 weeks Spring 2022 Add deadline + 3 weeks Fall 2022 Add deadline + 3 weeks
Final abstract and full literature review Spring 2021 Add deadline + 2 weeks (est. early March) Spring 2021 Last day of classes Fall 2021 Last day of classes Spring 2022 Last day of classes Fall 2022 Last day of classes
Full thesis draft Spring 2021 Drop deadline (est. late March) Fall 2021 Drop deadline Spring 2022 Drop deadline Fall 2022 Drop deadline Spring 2023 Drop deadline
Reviewer(s) return thesis Spring 2021 Drop deadline + 2 weeks (est. early April) Fall 2021 Drop deadline + 2 weeks Spring 2022 Drop Deadline + 2 weeks Fall 2022 Drop deadline + 2 weeks Spring 2023 Drop deadline + 2 weeks
Revised final thesis Spring 2021 Last day of classes (est. early May) Fall 2021 Last day of classes Spring 2022 Last day of classes Fall 2022 Last day of classes Spring 2023 Last day of classes
Symposium presentation Spring 2021 End of semester TBD (est. mid May) Fall 2021 End of semester TBD Spring 2022 End of semester TBD Fall 2022 End of semester TBD Spring 2023 End of semester TBD


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) 

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)

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)

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