Undergraduate Research

Research is an integral part of the Honors Program curriculum. Honors students work with faculty members of their choosing in two Honors tutorials. Often, students present their tutorial research at Marymount's Student Research Conference, or at external conferences, such as the Virginia Collegiate Honors Council or National Collegiate Honors Council conferences. 


Beginning in the junior year, Honors students conduct scholarly research in close consultation with a faculty mentor focusing on the topic of their Senior Honors Thesis.

The Senior Thesis will typically be 30 pages, or 15 pages for creative/design projects. All Honors students are required to present and defend their theses before a committee consisting of the thesis advisor, a second reader, and the Honors director or his/her designee. Thesis defenses are open to the entire University community and are archived in the Honors Program office and on the Library and Learning Service website.


Read about some of our Honors Program graduates' experiences below:


Maria Camarca, Class of 2017


As an undergraduate Biology major and Honors student at Marymount, Maria worked with Dr. Eric Bubar on two research projects: one on stellar spectroscopy her freshman year and the other on 3-D printing of prosthetic arms her sophomore-junior year. For her Honors thesis, she worked with Dr. Deana Jaber to test the use of card games in organic chemistry education. She had her thesis paper published in a peer-reviewed journal. After graduating from Marymount's Honors Program with her B.S. in Biology, Maria began a summer internship at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Center for Astrobiology. As an intern, Maria learned how to use infrared spectroscopy as a tool to study the chemical profiles of comets. The unique molecular abundances in comets are helpful for understanding the evolution of the Solar System. She continued her project at NASA Goddard as a full-time research assistant in the Solar System Exploration Division until she was accepted to a Ph.D. in Astronomy Program at CalTech in 2019.

Chelsea Ritter, Class of 2014


Chelsea earned her Ph.D. in School Psychology at the University of Cincinnati in 2019. In her first year at UC, Chelsea implemented academic and behavioral interventions to Kindergarteners in urban schools and engaged in five different research projects with faculty and peers, working towards her goal to conduct research and teach psychology at a Research I university. While at Marymount, Chelsea started as a communications major, but changed to Psychology after taking PSY 101. Chelsea was a member of the Honors program and worked with Dr. Stacy Lopresti-Goodman as a research assistant. Her work with Dr. Lopresti-Goodman led to a publication and a desire to pursue research as a career choice. Chelsea's advice for current MU students is to be open to all opportunities and experiences. In Chelsea’s own words:  “I love what I am doing. I know that I am doing the right thing with my life and the experiences I am getting are incredible. All of these experiences and skills that I have are because of professors at Marymount who took the time to talk to me inside and outside of class and write detailed feedback on all of my assignments. I cannot stress enough that Marymount prepared me so much for this Ph.D. program.”

Emilia Larach, Class of 2015


Emilia's experiences studying overseas informed the topic of her honors thesis, which investigated the extent to which study abroad participation was associated with a student's self-identification as a member of the global community, and how this correlated with the dimensions of global citizenship. Emilia's research utilized psychological and sociological theories to explore the role of universities, and the need for "lived experiences of otherness", during the developmental period of emerging adulthood. Following graduation, Emilia presented her honors research at NAFSA's national conference for international education in Boston, MA. Emilia recently completed her Ed.M. in Prevention Science and Practice from Harvard University, where she studied acculturation and student development during the study abroad re-entry transition. Emilia currently works at Northeastern Univeristy's Global Experience Office as their mobility coordinator. In this role, she provides visa guidance and support to students and faculty traveling abroad, and is able to utilize her research to improve current practices and enhance office programming.