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Distinction Program

The Distinction Program recognizes students for excellent scholarly work in their field of study. Students apply to the program in the Fall of their senior year and then work with an advisor throughout the year to complete an independent research project or creative work. That work is then defended in the Spring before an advisory committee.

Projects completed in the context of a seminar or capstone course may be used for Distinction, given that they are done at a high level and meet the guidelines and expectations of the program. Projects conducted in the Honors Program cannot also be used for Distinction.  

Anyone who completes the program will be recognized as having graduated "With Distinction" on their permanent academic transcript, their diploma and in the graduation program.  Students who complete the program can also apply to receive an Undergraduate Research and Creative Work Card as part of our Five Cardinal Experiences.


Undergraduate students in all disciplines with senior standing and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 are eligible to apply (GPA requirement changes to 3.4 for students starting at Otterbein in Fall 2014).


Students can apply for project funding from the Student Research Fund.   This fund will provide support for the project itself, as well as for dissemination at professional conferences. Additional funding opportunities may be found using PIVOT, a comprehensive, searchable database of funding opportunities.

University Approval

Any projects involving human subjects or the use of animals must receive approval from the Institutional Review Board or the Animal Care and Use Committee. Approval must be received before the onset of data collection. 

Important Dates and Notes

Proposal Due Date: Fall semester, 5pm on Friday of week 4.
Proposals should be sent to the Director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Work, Prof. David Robertson of the department of physics. you may direct any questions to him as well.

Final thesis and defense due dates:
The defense should take place during weeks 11-13 of Spring semester. Your completed final thesis must be submitted to your advisory committee at least one week prior to the defense (i.e., no later than the end of week 12). The deadline for submission of the final electronic thesis to the library is the Friday of week 14.

Recent Distinction Theses


  • Consideration of Social Normativity through Collage and Assemblage, Cassidy Brauner
  • Deadpan Photography:  Methods and Research, Jennifer Davis

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

  • Examination of the Chaplins as Targets for Cyclic-di-GMP Signaling in Streptomyces coelicolor, Alana Cheplowitz
  • A Diversity Study of Triclosan Resistant Bacteria in Alum Creek, Westerville, OH, Nana Agyepong
  • An investigation of Cyclic-di-GMP in Streptomyces coelicolor, Bobby Geiger 

Biology & Earth Science

  • Visual recognition in the Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulates), Kelly Pruchnicki 
  • MHC Variability and Autoimmune Disease in African Penguins, Caitlin Castagno
  • Carryover Effects of Larval Density on Digestive Plasticity, Growth and Feeding in the Gray Treefrog, Lindsay Wargelin
  • Reinterpretation of Fossil Marine Notches in the Pleistocene Reefs of Curacao, Helena Hayter

Business, Accounting, Economics

  • Radically Innovative Product Strategy, Jackie Faeth
  • Students’ Motivations and Financial Orientation as Predictors of Academic Success, Alison Ernest

Computer Science

  • The Application of Computer Science to a Biodiversity Study of Two Creeks in Central Ohio, Richard Conley


  • Development of a Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Method for Select Environmental Pollutants, Kevin O’Neil
  • Structural Analysis of Molybdenum Halide Clusters and Their Use for the Construction of Metal-organic Frameworks, Trevor Sams


  • Meaningful Learning through Collaborative Project-Based Inquiry, Bethany Adams


  • If Only the Names Were Changed – A Collection of Personal Essays, Andrew Miller

Health and Sports Sciences

  • Assessing a University’s Student Body for a Smoke-free Campus Policy, Calli Studebaker
  • Attitudes of College Students and Same-age Public School Students with Identified Disabilities
  • Participating in a Fitness Program on a College Campus, Sarah Laux

History and Political Science

  • Grey matter:  Is it simply black and white?  Undocumented Iraqi refugees and the Jordanian government, Kiersten Curtis


  • Self-regulation in Fragile X Syndrome, Amanda Zamary
  • Occupational Gender Stereotypes in Middle School, Drew Markley
  • The Vigilance Decrement, Erick Sibata

Sociology and Anthropology

  • Cultural Perceptions and Accessibility of Alternative Medicines:  The Chiropractic Method, Tory Wayland

Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies

  • Consideration of Social Normativity through Collage and Assemblage, Cassidy Brauner

/Distinction Program

David Robertson
Director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Work
Department of Physics
e/ drobertson@otterbein.edu
p/ 614.823.1516