Honors EXCEL Program projects are as diverse as the students that undertake them.
All projects will have two things in common: they will have a clear tie to the service mission of the university and they will result in a work of scholarship appropriate to the project. The outlines below give ideas to get you started. Or, use the project library (under development this fall) to identify projects that need ambitious and talented students.
Research works to produce new knowledge through deep and focused study. It is one of the core missions of any university.
At West Virginia Universities, research spans the humanities, social sciences, STEM disciplines and clinical practice. Research is for anyone who has a question about the world that hasn’t been answered yet.
These projects will likely culminate in a thesis and thesis defense or poster presentation.
- A biologist will test which cellular pathways are influenced by treatment with MCHM using yeast as a model system.
- A historian will investigate the role of new immigrants in the coal labor force between 1800-1900.
- A biomedical engineer will develop a kinetic model of cellular signaling pathways.
- A nutritionist will investigate the impact of dietary interventions on obesity in young children.
- A nurse or public health specialist will look at clinical data to determine the success rate of a treatment in aging adults.
- For more examples, or to talk through ideas, visit the Office of Undergraduate Research.
Students may choose to intern for several weeks with professionals in their field. Internships may occur at businesses, in non-profits or in government offices.
The project goals and guidelines are often set by the internship site. Internships are useful for anyone who wants to apply their skills directly to current projects with mentorship from individuals in the workforce.
These projects will likely culminate in a technical report and a presentation to stakeholders.
- A chemical engineer will work at the Environmental Protection Agency modeling the impact of recent regulations on sustainable energy development.
- A forensic scientist will work in the state crime lab, collecting and analyzing crime scene samples as part of a broader project considering ways to grow the capacity of crime labs.
- A social worker or psychologist will work with local Child Advocacy Services to assist children separated from their parents
- A philosopher/pre-law student will work at the WVU Immigration Law Clinic, assisting with legal cases for asylum seekers and researching the impact of recent policy changes.
- For more examples, or to talk through ideas, visit the internship coordinator in your college or department.
Creative works may include visual art, curation, photography, writing, music, theater, dance, film or design. Projects should be of substantial scope and depth.
These projects will likely culminate in a design booklet and a presentation on campus.
- A performance artist will direct a play using student actors for presentation at the Mountainlair.
- A fashion designer will lead a group of students to design and create/source costumes for an upcoming opera performance.
- An art historian will curate an exhibit of female artists for a local venue.
- A graphic designer will create a branding system for a local non-profit organization.
- A musician will create an original musical, prepare a public lecture-recital, produce an album or conduct an oral history project.
- For design and innovation ideas, see the Launch Lab website.
Study Abroad/Global Engagement
Students who are studying abroad may choose to enhance that experience with an independent project.
Ideally, projects will be developed while at WVU, with a specific component that must occur in another country.
These projects may culminate in a thesis or project report and a presentation on campus.
- A painter will travel to France to compare the works of American and European impressionist painters.
- A political scientist will travel to Brazil to study how changing from a dictatorship to a democracy has influenced energy policy over the past 30 years.
- A sports management specialist will travel to the Dominican Republic to study recruitment practices for elite teams and compare it to similar practices in the United States.
- A biologist will travel to Mozambique and work with local health providers to develop a promotional campaign on contraception and HIV prevention.
- A linguist will travel to Spain and compare Spanish/English bilingual language acquisition to similar practice in the United States.
- For more examples, or to discuss project ideas, see the Education Abroad website.
Community Engagement/Community Development
Students are encouraged to work with community groups to develop solutions to local problems.
Projects will pair students with faculty and stakeholders to consider needs not being met by government organizations or the business sector.
These projects will likely culminate in a technical report and presentation to stakeholders.
- A sociologist will work with Empty Bowls to increase capacity and impact for the program-based in literature on community development and community conversations.
- A business administrator will develop a series of business plan documents for a local non-profit organization.
- An educator will lead a group of peers to create an asset map in the community where they will do their student teaching.
- A nurse will develop a health advocacy campaign and present it in local schools.
- A wildlife and fisheries specialist will coordinate a stream restoration project in conjunction with the Friends of Deckers Creek and local government agencies.
- A medical microbiologist will work with non-profit organizations and state agencies to study the impact of needle exchanges on reducing infectious disease among opioid users.
- For more examples, or to talk through ideas, see the Center for Service and Learning website.
Students may choose to work together on a larger project. In these cases, each student must ‘own’ a separate part of the project.
Each project will have its own methods and products, even as the students work toward the same goals.
- A graphic designer, a forestry specialist and a public relations specialist work together to design a new pamphlet for West Virginia State Parks & Forests.
- A mechanical engineer, a communications specialist and an educator work together to build an engineering outreach activity to be deployed at an Engineering summer camp.
- A chemist and a sculptor develop a museum exhibit using novel materials.