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The Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences offers a variety of pathways for students seeking to complete their Immersion requirement.  Through Immersion in the Earth and Environmental Sciences, students will address questions about Earth's dynamic history, how geological processes affect modern environmental and ecological systems, and how Earth's physical and geochemical templates simultaneously sustain and threaten life and influence human interactions with Earth.

Several Immersion pathways are listed below, but the list is not exhaustive.  Many of these pathways culminate in a poster presentation at the annual Earth & Environmental Sciences Research Gala held each January.

Examples of Immersion Pathways

  1. Research in EES. Students would take some EES courses in the area of interest, complete at least two semesters or one summer of research with a faculty in EES, and present that research at the EES Research Gala or elsewhere.
  2. Senior Honors in EES.  EES Majors with a 3.3 major and overall GPA are eligible for this program.  If a sophomore EES major anticipates completing EES Honors, they should submit an Immersion Plan for general “Research in EES” as shown above, and then change their plan to Honors in EESs once admitted to the program as a Junior.
  3. Research outside of EES.  A multitude of research opportunities exist for students outside of Vanderbilt during the summer (examples include REU programs, NASA’s Develop program, etc.).  A student would take some EES courses in the area of interest and complete the external research program or position (over summer or study abroad).  The student would present their work at the EES Research Gala.
  4. Internships. Students would take two EES courses in the area of interest and complete an EES-related internship.  This may be for credit or not for credit.  The final project would likely include a paper and a summary of the experience at the annual ‘Summers in EES’ preview event or during the EES Career Seminar, both in the fall.
  5. Study Abroad. Study abroad programs do not necessarily qualify as an “Immersion” experience.  However, programs that involve research, internships, or living within the community may qualify.  The Frontiers Abroad program in New Zealand has research and field camp as a component of the course, including presentation of the research, and so does satisfy the Immersion requirement.  Other study abroad programs, including EES Maymester courses, can be a component of a student’s Immersion plan but will likely require additional components to satisfy the immersive experience and final product requirements.
  6. Design your own.  If you’re interested in a project that does not fit within the pathways listed here, but does address the questions listed in the introductory paragraph, reach out to the Office of Immersion Resources (make an appointment here:  They are your first stop in starting to create a more individualized plan that can then be brought to the EES Immersion Coordinator, Dr. Claiborne.

Contact Dr. Lily Claiborne (, Director of Undergraduate Studies in EES and an Immersion Coordinator for the College of Arts & Sciences, if you are interested in pursuing Immersion through EES and have questions.  EES majors should talk to their academic advisers and/or Dr. Claiborne.