Honors Program

The public health research honors program provides selected students the opportunity to work with a faculty mentor on a year-long project that is of personal interest to them.  Students have the opportunity to gain practical skills in designing and carrying out an independent research project, and continue development of their academic skills in oral and written communication. Public health research honors projects are marked by intellectual engagement and coherence, and by educational soundness and continuity.

Public Health Research Honors Eligibility

Students must meet all program eligibility requirements, apply to the public health research honors program, and receive an offer of acceptance from the Public Health Steering Committee (PHSC).

Typically, public health majors will be invited to consider the research honors program in the summer between their sophomore and junior years based on the criteria below:

  • Students should have completed four of the five Public Health General Core courses with at least a 3.60 grade-point average
  • Students must have a declared public health major
  • Students should be making good progress toward completing their degree, i.e. students should have completed at least two core courses specific to their public health major and at least 1 elective for their public health major
  • Students should have at least a 3.60 in their public health major

To graduate with research honors, students must complete the requirements of the honors program. Upon completion of the honors program, students may receive degrees with honors, with high honors, or with the highest honors.

Requirements for Research Honors

The awarding of honors is determined by the criteria listed below:

  • Students must have completed four of the five Public Helath-Related General Course courses with a 3.60 grade-point average.  The five General Core Courses must be completed by the end of their junior year.
  • Students must have officially declared their public health major.
  • Students must have a cumulative grade-point average of at least a 3.60 in the major.
  • Students must successfully complete 3 credit hours of Public Health Honors Seminar over and above the credit hours required for the major (1 credit hour in PHLT 389 for the junior year (preferably in spring of junior year), 1 credit hour in PHLT 389 fall semester of senior year, and 1 credit hour in PHLT 389 spring semester of senior year). PHLT 389 is a course.
  • Students must successfully complete 7 credit hours of Public Health Honors Research with an approved faculty advisor, over and above the credit hours required for the major (1 credit hour in PHLT 393 for the spring semester of their junior year, 3 credit hours in PHLT 393 fall semester of the senior year, and 3 credit hours in PHLT 393 for the spring semester of the senior year). PHLT 393 is an independent study course.
  • Completion of at least one honors course, as designated with an H.
  • Completion of an Honors Thesis which must be at least A- quality.

The major with research honors is awarded only to those students who specifically seek it and arrange to complete all of its requirements. Careful planning is involved in meeting these requirements, and specified deadlines must be met. 

The staff and faculty involved in the public health-related programs will assist students in any way they can, but it is the individual student’s responsibility to meet the requirements on time.

Senior Honors Thesis

The honors thesis is an extensive and substantial report of a project completed during the junior and senior years, but it may be based in part on work performed earlier than this. The final version of the honors thesis is expected to be a substantive contribution to the student's field, and so the standards will be those appropriate to the public health discipline in which the student is writing.  To qualify for honors, a thesis should represent original thought or be an exceptional conceptualization of a problem.  The thesis must meet the following standards, as judged by the faculty advisor and by a second reader designated by the Public Health Steering Committee (PHSC).

Thesis Expectations

The thesis must be organized to answer an original question through the work done as part of the thesis project.

  • “Original” means that the question has not already been asked and answered in existing published work in the same manner as the proposed work.
  • “Answerable” means that the argument and evidence produced and presented by the student could reasonably be thought of as answering the question.

The thesis must effectively bring original evidence or argument to bear on the question that is being examined. The thesis must provide a persuasive written argument explaining to the reader how the work addresses the question posed.

The evidence or argument may involve:

  • A collection of documents or observations that have not been used in previous scholarly work.
  • Fresh interpretations or analyses of existing and previously studied data.

The thesis must explain the public health relevance of the question it sets out to answer. It must also explain how the student's original work relates to and potentially contributes to existing academic work in public health.

Completed Senior Research Honors Projects

Astghik Baghinyan, "COVID-19, War, and Mistrust: Vaccine Hesitancy in Armenia - Mixed Methods Approach" (2022)

Evan Bushinsky, "Drinking Water as a Source of PFAS Exposure in Pregnant Women: Well Versus Municipal Water Sources in Monroe County and the City of Rochester" (2022)

Charlotte Caldwell, "Preventing Suicide in LGBT+ Youth: What Works?" (2022)

Marguerite Curtis, "An Ethnographic Analysis of COVID-19 Vaccination Strategies among the Latino Community in Rochester, New York" (2022)

Madeline Bordo, "Rochester's Rental Assistance Programs During Covid-19: Lessons for the Future" (2021)

Justice Centrello, "Analysis of Persistent Organic Pollutant Concentrations in Cord Blood of Newborns in Rochester" (2021)

Hannah Jaques, "Emerging Populations: Fundamental Questions Surrounding Women in the 1990's AIDS Crisis" (2021)

Lilo Blank, "The Transformation of Women's Reproductive Health in the United States: An Alternative Framework for Understanding Paradigmatic Shift" (2020)

Margaux Masten, "Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (Batten Disease): Public Health Relevance and Natural History Studies of a Group of Rare Diseases" (2020)

Monica Morgan, "Public Health Law Protections for Cannabidiol Consumers: An Analysis of the Food and Drug Administration's Warning Letters" (2020)

Cameron Tate, "The Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Crisis: Ethical Considerations and Public Health Recommendations" (2020)

Simran Arya, "Blame and Addiction: Towards a Psychosocial Understanding" (2019)

Sydney Goldberg, "The Need to Maximize Minors' Involvement in Healthcare Decisions: Utilizing Tests for Medical Competency" (2019)

Sarah Hackley, "Artificial Intelligence: Patient Privacy and Public Health" (2019)

Sophie Turbide, "Susceptible: The Socio-Political Context of the 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa" (2019)

Ann Zhang, "The Social Epidemiology of Maternal Mortality: A Rights-Centered Approach to Women's Health" (2019)

Shoshana Preuss, "Workplace Leave Programs for Employed Family Caregivers: An Exploration of the Impacts of the New York State Paid Family Leave Act" (2018)

Samantha Stoma, "Trauma-Informed Pathways to Prison: A Gendered Examination of Criminal Justice-Involved Women" (2018)

Makenzie Ward, "The Forgotten Victims: Challenges for Children of Incarcerated Mothers, Current Available Resources and Proposed Interventions" (2018)

Cita Dunn, "The Relationships Between Social and Emotional Well-Being and Cancer Clinical Trail Participation in LEO Study Participants" (2017)

Rina Yarosh, "The Psychological Outcomes of Living with Indolent Cancers: A Study of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia" (2017)