Potential Honours Projects

Are you a student looking for an Honours thesis project? Our Department has many faculty members working on a range of exciting research initiatives, and there are many opportunities for students to get involved in them as part of their Honour’s thesis. Below you will find some of the potential projects that EES faculty are pitching for the coming year. Click on each faculty member’s pitch to get a better idea of the project, and then contact them directly if you are interested in working with them.

Richard Cox
Email: Richard.Cox@dal.ca
Phone: +1 902 494 3362

The Pitch

Project Title: Lunar Meteorites and the Early Evolution of the Lunar Crust

Description: The lunar crust is dominated by anorthosite, which forms much of the lunar highlands, the bright and heavily cratered areas that you can see on the moon with the naked eye. This is at least 4.35 billion years old (Barboni et al. 2017) and is thought to have formed over a ~200 million year period. The anorthosites are thicker on the farside (~30-50 km) versus the nearside of the moon where they reach zero thickness in the Mare impact basins, the dark areas visible on the moon’s surface. The anorthosites are thought to have formed from a planetary-scale, magmatic fractionation process as suggested by the original lunar magmatic ocean (LMO) model (Smith et al. 1970; Wood et al. 1970). The LMO model suggests an early, 1000km deep, molten lunar surface developed and was enriched in plagioclase. Being less dense, the plagioclase floated to form the anorthosites of the lunar highlands. There are now several models supported by increasing volumes of data that suggest more complex formation mechanisms. The onion-skin model suggests a LMO with limited circulation under an initially thin, quenched crust. This produced rapid accumulation of anorthosites and minor, interstitial, mafic liquids. Tidal overturning of the plagioclase cumulates then prolonged the crystallization times (Elkins-Tanton et al. 2011). A second model, which attempts to also explain the asymmetric nature of the lunar crustal thicknesses, suggests that circulation may be the result of a giant impact which caused early differentiation of the nearside and farside lunar surfaces (Aria et al. 2008). A third model suggests that serial magmatism, and recycling of crystallizing plagioclase into a pre-existing quenched crust, produced the variety of assemblages found in many lunar samples (Gross et al. 2014). Another recent model suggests that modification of the initial crust formed from the LMO was aided by widespread early bombardment. This in turn created a series of magma seas that differentiated to result in the observed compositional variations in the lunar highlands (Vaughan et al. 2013). In this study, we will examine a small suite of lunar meteorite samples which has recently been obtained, including several pieces of NWA 11474 and NWA 12593. These meteorites are lunar breccias and contain clasts of anorthosite and mafic minerals. The first part of the project will involve a detailed documentation of the variations in mineral compositions in these samples. This will allow the range in lunar anorthosites represented to be determined. Preliminary crystallization temperatures will also be calculated using this data. Minor elements such as Sr, Ba and rare-earth elements including Eu will also be measured. Published distribution coefficients for trace-elements in plagioclase crystallizing from a LMO (Sun et al. 2017) will be used to determine whether these samples crystallized from a single-composition magma or represent more than one phase of crystallization from several magmas. Results will be compared with other studies to help refine the models of lunar crustal formation. Students interested in this project should contact Dr. Richard Cox (richard.cox@dal.ca).

Tarah Wright
Email: Tarah.Wright@Dal.Ca
Phone: +1 902 494 1831

The Pitch

Project Title: Measuring Bioaffinity Amongst Pre-School Children – A Comparative Study

Description: Nature exposure is proven to be crucial for children’s development by enhancing their physical and mental well-being, encouraging independence, creativity and problem-solving skills, and nurturing a deeper appreciation for nature. Further, one’s connection to nature is positively correlated with developing pro-environmental attitudes, knowledge and beliefs as an adult, and increasing the probability of conservation behaviours and attitudes later in life. This Honours thesis study will build on the work of Omidvar and Wright (2019) and MacKeen & Wright (2021) in which a bioaffinity (connectedness to nature) games testing tool was developed, tested and then modified to be more culturally, geographically and developmentally appropriate to the age of the participants and location in which the individual study takes place. The newly modified games testing tool will undergo reliability and validity testing in summer 2021 using psychometric assessment techniques. We are looking for an Honours thesis student who will support the research team in the testing of the tool with pre-school children during summer 2021 (approximately 20 hours in total – dates/times to be determined) and who will take the lead role in analyzing the bioaffinity results of the Halifax participant data, as well as running comparative analyses between the Halifax results and data previously collected using this bioaffinity test with children in a nature-based pre-school in Eleuthera Bahamas. Students interested in this project should contact Dr. Tarah Wright (tarah.wright@dal.ca). Note: It may be possible to combine this thesis with an Environmental Science Internship class (ENVS 3000) in Summer 2021, but this is not mandatory in order to be considered for this project as an Honours student.

Pitch #2

The Arts are uniquely placed to transform the conversation around climate change and translate it into action. Artists and the wider cultural community have a unique and critical role: they deal with the art of the possible and influence new ways of being, doing and thinking. Arts and culture not only respond to the world around us; they also influence our individual and collective experiences, and shape the direction we take. Yet Arts organizations can have an impact on the environment as well through their various activities. As such, this project will have the student partner with an Arts organization (i.e. Neptune Theatre, Dalhousie Fountain School of Performing Arts, Nova Scotia Art Gallery, etc.) to begin to examine the physical impact of the organization in order to better inform decision making in the future. The student will help the organization to measure their energy use, water consumption, waste generation and recycling, travel and production materials. It is anticipated that the results can help to inform the organization’s environmental strategy and organisational priorities.