Undergraduate student research projects

Welcome to the Centre for Science undergraduate research projects page. We offer students the opportunity to participate in research projects in the general science (SCIE) category and within various disciplines that include biology (BIOL), microbiology (BIOL), chemistry (CHEM), geology (GEOL), nutrition (NUTR), environmental science (ENSC), physics (PHYS), astronomy (ASTR), geography (GEOG), and mathematics (MATH). See the table below for examples of completed undergraduate research projects. The 495 and 496 courses are senior-level courses that require some prerequisite science courses, which can be evaluated in the proposal.

Research projects can be performed in a lab, field study setting, or at home using computational approaches or lab kits. We also accept literature review projects that do not involve experimentation but require an in-depth study of a select topic. These types of literature review projects are only an option for a 495 course, and if a student wishes to take a second project course, it must be an experimental project at the 496 level. There are no additional student fees, and the project supervisor will cover all research costs, if applicable.

The purpose of these research project courses is to gain experience in developing a testable hypothesis to address a specific research problem, develop scientific writing skills, learn the basic scientific method for designing experiments, analyzing and interpreting data, and make conclusions based on the results. Students will also gain experience writing basic research or grant proposals and final reports, which are essential to publishing peer-reviewed science manuscripts. In addition, there are opportunities to communicate their findings in an oral presentation or possibly to publish in peer-reviewed and undergraduate research journals.

Process of organizing a research project

  1. A student learns that a project course is available at Athabasca University and wishes to know more.
  2. The student reads the information provided on this website (Undergraduate Research Projects) and the AU science project course syllabus and description.
  3. The student completes the project proposal to the best of their ability, identifying a possible project topic and potential supervisor from within or outside of AU. A list of AU faculty who can serve as supervisors and their research areas is listed here.
  4. The student emails the project proposal to the appropriate course coordinator, who will assist in organizing the research project, and identifying supervisors. If no AU expert is available, the student and supervisor will discuss an external expert. Submit your application at least 1 month before you plan to start the project or earlier if financial aid is involved.
  5. The course coordinator reads the proposal and contacts the proposed project supervisor. The coordinator and supervisor determine if the project is feasible and is worth 3 senior-level science credits, and if the student has the necessary background course requirements to successfully complete the project.
  6. The course coordinator informs the student to register in Athabasca University and to pay the tuition fees for the specified project course.
  7. After successful registration, the student and supervisor meet at the start of the course to agree on a learning contract, which states the project's objectives, research activities, outcomes, evaluation procedure, scheduling of regular progress meetings, and timelines. The course orientation contains additional information about establishing the learning contract.
  8. The student and supervisor will negotiate and eventually agree on the learning contract, and the student can begin the research project.
  9. The student submits all assessments and reports to the project supervisor by the deadlines agreed upon. For written submissions, the supervisor provides feedback to the student before determining the final grade.

Project area coordinators

student projects course co-ordinators
Project Course Coordinator Email
ASTR 495/496 Dr. Martin Connors martinc@athabascau.ca
BIOL 495/496 Dr. Shawn Lewenza slewenza@athabascau.ca
COMP 495/496 Dr. Vive Kumar vive@athabascau.ca
COMP 498/499 Dr. Vive Kumar vive@athabascau.ca
CHEM 495/496 Dr. Lawton Shaw lawtons@athabascau.ca
ENSC 495/496 Dr. Shawn Lewenza slewenza@athabascau.ca
GEOG 495/496 Dr. Frederique Pivot fpivot@athabascau.ca
GEOL 495/496 Dr. Kennedy Munyikwa kenm@athabascau.ca
MATH 495/496 Dr. Junye Wang junyew@athabascau.ca
NUTR 495/496 Dr. Alexa Ferdinands aferdinands@athabascau.ca
PHYS 495/496 Dr. Farook Al-Shamali farooka@athabascau.ca
SCIE 495/496 Dr. Shawn Lewenza slewenza@athabascau.ca

Project course supervisors

A list of courses with the associated supervisor
Project Course Supervisor/email Research Interests
ASTR/PHYS Dr. Martin Connors
Geomagnetism, Geo-electricity, space weather, Asteroid astronomy, History of astronomy
Research profile
BIOL/SCIE/ENSC Dr. Shawn Lewenza
Microbiology, Genetics, Antibiotics, Genomics, Biosensors, Biofilms, Biochemistry, Oil sands
Research profile
BIOL/SCIE/ENSC Dr. Chris Glover
Environmental physiology, aquatic toxicology
Research profile
BIOL/SCIE/ENSC Dr. Scott Ketcheson
Hydrology, Sustainability, Reclamation, wildfires
Research profile
BIOL/SCIE/ENSC Dr. Shauna Zenteno
Bacterial pathogenesis, microbiology
Research profile
BIOL/SCIE/ENSC Dr. Roland Treu
Fungi, mushrooms, mycorrhiza, mycology, botany
Research profile
BIOL/SCIE/ENSC Dr. Srijak Bhatnager
Bioinformatics, Environmental Microbiology, Microbiomes, Microbial Bioremediation, DNA data mining
Research profile
CHEM/SCIE Dr. Dietmar Kennephol
Chemistry education, learning design, learning outcomes, assessment, PLAR, transfer credit, distance and online education, and emerging educational technologies
Research profile
CHEM/SCIE/ENSC Dr. Lawton Shaw
Environmental chemistry, citizen science, teaching
Research profile
BIOL/ENSC Dr. Lisa Carter
Microbiology, Immunology, neuroimmune mechanisms, community-based environmental monitoring, Indigenous knowledge
Research profile
BIOL/SCIE Dr. John Ulici-Petrut
Anatomy, physiology, vertebrate, veterinary
PHYS Dr. Farook Al-Shamali
Physics, Physics education, E-learning
Environmental data analysis, water quality data analysis, and air quality data analysis.
Research profile
GEOG Dr. Frederique Pivot
Physical Geography, remote sensing
Research profile
GEOL Dr. Kennedy Munyikwa
Research profile
MATH James Greenwood-Lee
Mathematical modelling, Evolutionary biology, Health services research
Research profile
MATH/SCIE Dr. Angela Beltaos
Nanotechnology/Nanoscience, Graphene, Optoelectronics, Photonics, Sonification, History of Science, and Mathematics Education
MATH Dr. Gustavo Carrero
Mathematical biology
Research profile
NUTR Dr. Alexa Ferdinands
Food insecurity, food environments, social determinants of health, public health nutrition
Research profile
COMP Dr. Sabine Graf
Artificial intelligence in education, educational technology, adaptive and personalized learning systems, user modelling, learning analytics, academic analytics, game-based learning
Research profile
COMP Dr. Stella George
Artificial intelligence in society and education
Research profile
COMP Dr. Ali Dewan
Artificial intelligence, educational data mining, machine learning, information visualization
Research profile
COMP Dr. Dunwi Wen
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, statistical and deep learning algorithms for natural language processing, image recognition,ML algorithm optimization, AI for science and healthcare
Research profile
COMP Dr. Harris Wang
Intelligence modelling, intelligent systems, maching learning, computer security
Research profile
COMP Dr. Jon Dron
Learning technologies, learning environments, social computing, educational technology, self-organizing social systems for learning, collective intelligence, collaborative filtering for learning, adaptive learning systems, learning support systems, open source, learning technology protocols and standards, federated systems, motivation.
Research profile
COMP Dr. Larbi Esmahi
Research profile
COMP Dr. Mahmoud Abaza
Research profile
COMP Dr. Maiga Chang
Artificial Intelligence; Natural Language Processing; Intelligent Agent and Chatbot Technology; Game-based Learning, Training and Assessment; Learning Behaviour Analysis; Learning Analytics and Academic Analytics; Health Informatics; Data Mining; Computational Intelligence; Museum Education; Mobile Learning and Ubiquitous Learning; Healthcare Technology.
Research profile
COMP Dr. Oscar Lin
AI in education, decision-making and planning under uncertainty and in multi-agent systems, multi-armed bandit algorithms, virtual reality.
Research profile
COMP Dr. Ching Tan
Robotics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data analytics, adaptive mobile learning
Research profile
COMP Richard Huntrods P.Eng.
Computer science, robotics, programming
Staff profile
COMP Dr. Vivekanandan Kumar
Explainable AI, Computational Causal Modeling, Knowledge Tracing, Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)
Research profile
COMP Dr. Xiaokun Zhang
Research profile

Examples of recent project courses

examples of student projects
Project Course Project Title/Subject
ASTR 495 Scientific Methods of Medieval Muslim Astronomers
ASTR 495 Welding in Space
ASTR 495 The Sunspot Cycle
ASTR 495 Relativistic Time Dilation Calculator
ASTR 496 An Eclipsing Binary Star with TESS Observations
BIOL 495 Bioinformatic Identification of TetR and MarR Homologs in Pseudomonas
BIOL 495 Bacterial Biosensors: Technology for the Future
BIOL 495 An Overview of the Impact of COVID on Cancer Outcomes
BIOL 495 Biogeographical Study of Native Indicator Plants of Canada’s Northwestern Boreal
BIOL 495 A Radiation Fibrosis Database for Etiology, Treatment, and Future Research
BIOL 495 Bravos High Dose Rate Afterloader Applicator Commissioning
CHEM 495 Reaction Chains in Nuclear Physics and Chemistry
CHEM 495 Extraction Technologies for Algal Lipids
GEOL 495 Alberta's Orphan Wells: Issues and Concerns
GEOL 495 Problems and Methods Used to Reduce and Treat Hydrogeological Issues of Open Pit Mining in British Columbia, Canada
GEOL 495 Geothermal Energy: A New Industry in Alberta?
MATH 495 Nitrogen Oxide Air Pollution in Alberta
MATH 495 Loudspeaker Array Placement for Uniformity
MATH 495 Inquiry Into Cryptography: History, Computer Science, Math & Related Discussions
MATH 496 Optimization Studies of Loudspeaker Arrays
MATH 495 The Role of Modern Algebra in Cryptography: Past and Future
PHYS 495 Vibrations and Waves
PHYS 495 Stress Paths and Material Properties: A Varied Approach to Structural Analysis
PHYS 495 Thermomechanical Processes in Welding
PHYS 495 Ring Applicator Commissioning Strategies for High Dose Rate Brachytherapy
SCIE 496 Satellites and Space Debris
SCIE 495 The Effects of Global Warming on Soil Health
SCIE 495 STEAM-based Pedagogy in the Canadian High School English Curriculum

Updated July 11, 2024 by Digital & Web Operations (web_services@athabascau.ca)