Capstone Projects

For each project, a professional liaison from a sponsoring organization works with a team of three to five students and a faculty advisor over the course of an academic year. Students develop a written proposal during the fall quarter and then a final project report during spring quarter. Projects have been supported by groups such as King County, Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and the Northwest Avalanche Center.

Examples of Recent Projects

Evaluating the Use of Large Wood in Duwamish River Salmon Habitat Restoration

Sponsor:  USDA Forest Service

Students completing a capstone project in environmental science

Description: The team evaluated the use of large wood for restoration in the Lower Duwamish River. They conducted a field survey  and inventoried the size, location, placement, and elevation of natural and implemented wood. They made recommendations as to the benefits of future studies that focus on the use of large wood in non-industrialized estuaries. 


Watershed Hydrology Modeling, Rio Ochomogo, Nicaragua

Sponsor:  Seattle University Global Engagement (with technical review provided by U.S. Geological Survey)

Description: In collaboration with students from the University of Central America, the team installed a gage on Rio Ochomogo, a tributary to Lake Nicaragua that has been identified as a significant source of sediment and agricultural pollutants.  The team developed a relationship between flow and water level at the site and used this to develop a three-month long record of river discharge.  The team also developed a numerical model for runoff and sediment production using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT).  


Assessment of Data Sources for Monitoring Cedar/Sammamish Chinook Recovery

Sponsor: King County

Description: The project team developed a strategy for incorporating existing environmental data collection efforts into a program for monitoring Chinook salmon recovery in the Cedar/Sammamish River watershed. Data sources were evaluated based on their ability to describe changes to physically measurable parameters that affect habitat quality, with emphasis on data already being collected at the state, county, or local level. Recommendations were be made for closing the most significant data gaps either through remote-sensing or field-based approaches.


Identifying and Mapping Non-Native Maples Near Newhalem, Washington

Sponsor: Seattle City Light


Description: The team mapped non-native trees that have colonized portions of the riparian area along the Skagit River near the town of Newhalem, Washington. The team evaluated the ecological impact of non-native species in various habitat types, considering dispersal distances and colonization pathways of the major non-native species. It also included a discussion of management implications and possible controls.