The Capstone senior research project is the culmination of the undergraduate experience at SAFS. Capstones provide an exciting opportunity to put class learning into practice and allow students to make a lasting contribution to their field of study. 

Capstone projects can address any topic in the aquatic and fishery sciences. Opportunities include:

  • Research questions provided by a faculty member
  • Independent design of a research project
  • Group research projects, typically conducted by up to three students
  • Research opportunities provided by a field site program (e.g., Alaska Field Camp, Friday Harbor Labs)
  • Expansion of an internship (FISH 498) or independent research (FISH 499) project into capstone research

All SAFS majors are required to complete a capstone project as part of their degree program. We recommend that students begin thinking about and preparing for their capstone experience during their junior year—the formal process typically takes place during a student’s senior year but in some cases, students may petition to begin their capstone earlier.

Students complete their capstone under the mentorship of a UW faculty member. Information on SAFS faculty research interests and expertise may be found here.

Capstone Procedures

The capstone project requires completion of three courses taken in order over a minimum of three quarters.

IMPORTANT: It is up to the individual student to register for capstone courses in a timely manner and in the correct order – failure to do so may result in registration fees and delay in graduation. Students are responsible for resolving any errors and resulting fees.

1. FISH 493 Capstone 1: Proposal (1cr) This class is a pre-requisite for FISH 494 and is offered Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. It familiarizes students with the capstone process, and prepares them for their research. Students complete their background research on the subject, and write their proposal. Read Capstone Proposal Guidelines.

To enroll in FISH 493:

  • You must have successfully completed two classes: FISH 290 and Q SCI 381
  • Contact Greg Jensen, Capstone Coordinator, for an add code. Students will also need to have the following:
        • An idea for a research project

    A faculty mentor for your project (browse faculty here)

2. FISH 494 Capstone 2: Research (3cr) Students will collect data (e.g., field sampling, experiments, lab work) during this quarter and meet regularly with their faculty adviser. You may register for additional research credits (Fish 499) if your research project is innovative, requires work over and above the capstone, and meets your advisors’ approval.

To enroll in FISH 494:

3. FISH 495 Capstone 3: Research Synthesis (3cr) Capstone students analyze their results and write the final paper in the style of a peer-reviewed scientific journal article, with appropriate graphs, diagrams, and images. Students also give an oral presentation on the project at the SAFS Undergraduate Research Symposium or a similar, approved venue.

To enroll in FISH 495:

Honors Capstone

SAFS students enrolled in the Departmental Honors Program should enroll in the Honors section of FISH 495 (3 credits) and meet the following additional criteria:

  • Submit a draft of the research paper to the Capstone Coordinator and two additional professionals in the field; incorporate any feedback into the final version.
  • In addition to the usual oral presentation, Honors students must also present a poster of their project at the SAFS Quarterly Undergraduate Symposium or comparable venue.

Capstone Adviser

Dr. Greg Jensen serves as the Faculty Capstone Coordinator/Adviser. He keeps records of research opportunities in the school, helps students set up projects, collects the paperwork, gives out entry codes, reviews research proposals and budgets, serves as a resource for students and faculty throughout the process, and coordinates the quarterly SAFS Capstone Symposium. Greg can be reached at or 206-543-6132.

Capstone Frequently Asked Questions




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