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

The Impacts of Pond Levelers on Beaver Dam Overtopping & Fish Passage

Sponsor:  Snoqualmie Valley Watershed Improvement District

 Description: This project explored the impacts of pond levelers on beaver dam overtopping and fish passage.  Through fieldwork, data collection and research, students assessed the ability of fish to pass through beaver dams by analyzing overtopping frequency, required leap heights, and water depth at four sites in King County.


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).  


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.