Thesis proposal outline
Writing an outline will help you to structure your thesis
and, in a more general sense, your work on the senior thesis
Another purpose is to show us that you have identified a project
sense to you (and us) and that you have a clear plan of attack.
follow the structure of the thesis proposal
you may replace section titles by more specific ones
fill in complete sentences or fractions of sentences, or
refer to at least 2 key references in your introduction
length of outline should be at least 2 pages
if you want to fill in more details in any of the sections,
free to do so, this will have the advantage that you will get
of feedback from you research mentor and seminar advisor
Here is an example (inspired by research
by Steve Chillrud at LDEO):
Factors influencing the concentrations of particulate matter in a
Josephine Doe, Environmental Science Department, Barnard College,
Research mentor: Steve Chillrud, LDEO, firstname.lastname@example.org
Seminar Advisor: Martin Stute, Env. Sci. Dep., BC,
Most studies focus on outdoor air, however we are typically
of out life indoors
A few studies performed so far show how outdoor PM controls
but that there are also sources of indoor PM, such as cooking,
and resuspension of PM by indoor activities (Long et al.,
- Basic characteristics of particulate matter
Particulate matter (PM) refers to solid and liquid colloidal
suspended in the air.
Particle size spectrum and definition of TSP, PM10, PM2.5.
Sources of particulate matter and their characteristic
particle size and
chemical composition (Spengler and Wilson, 1996)
Mechanisms and penetration of different size particles into
the human body
The Health Effects Institute estimates that each year about
die prematurely from cardiopulmonary causes linked to
particulate air pollution
There is also a increasing trend in occurrences of asthma
cases, in particular
Indoor/outdoor PM experiments in NYC
Summary of prior work performed on this topic in NYC
I am planning to study the processes controlling indoor PM in my
I suspect that indoor particle concentrations will be high and
with outdoor PM and indoor activities because
the outdoor PM concentrations are high in NYC (Amsterdam Ave.)
in my fairly old (off campus) apartment are leaky,
I do a lot of cooking,
I allow my friends to smoke in my apartment.
The indoor/outdoor gas exchange rate will be determined by
adding a small
quantity of SF6 into the air and subsequent
monitoring of the
concentration drop-off due to exchange with outside air with a
An optical particle monitoring devices will be used that
and outdoor PM concentrations and particle size distribution.
Careful records will be kept on activities inside the apartment,
walking, cooking, smoking etc.
The experiment will run for one week.
The resulting PM concentration time series will be modeled with
1-box spreadsheet model.
Preliminary results and discussion
The experiment will be conducted in mid November.
I expect to be able to include raw data in the thesis proposal.
My research mentor and I have tested the PM equipment using
air outside of the LDEO Marine Biology/Seismology laboratory. We
spikes in concentrations when holding a burning piece of
the intake of the instrument.
The SF6 gas chromatograph was also tested but did not
linear response when exposed to SF6 standards of know
(see enclosed graph). We do not currently know what the problem
My mentor hopes to be able to fix the problem during the next
Sep 10 - Oct 15: Background research
Oct 10: Discussed senior thesis (Angela's on ozone at Westpoint)
Oct 17: Initial tests of the equipment
Oct 30: Outline of thesis proposal handed in
Nov 1-15: check of the gas chromatograph and calibration of the
discuss scientific article with advisor (Long et al., 2000)
Nov 17: set-up of equipment in apartment
Nov 19-26: performance of the experiment
Nov 20: draft of thesis proposal due (will be given to mentor a
Dec 11: final thesis proposal due (will be given to mentor a few
Jan 1-10: repetition of experiment, if not successful in
Feb 1-10: Modeling of results
Mid-March: first draft handed in to mentor and advisor
End of April: final thesis submitted
Implications of research
If successful the experiment will shed light on the typical
a Barnard student to indoor PM.
The measured exposure can be translated into a an estimated
If appropriate, recommendations will be made regarding indoor PM
strategies, such as elimination of PM sources, frequent venting
apartment, or purchase of air filters.
HEI (2000) HEI what's new page. The Health Effects Institute. http://www.healtheffects.org/news.htm
Long, C.M., Suh, H.H., and Koutrakis (2000)
indoor particle sources using continuous mass and size monitors.
of Air & Waste Management Association, 50, 1236-1250.
Spengler, J.D. and Wilson, R. (1996) Particles in our air:
& health effects. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,