Environmental Studies Capstone

An Environmental Studies capstone should consist of a suitable independent research project focused on some aspect of environmental science, environmental studies, environmental management and policy, or environmental planning and practice.

During your senior year at Soka University, you will explore a topic of your choice during your Capstone Experience. In this year-long project you will gain in-depth knowledge about a topic chosen by you and your faculty mentor within your field of concentration, drawing upon all the skills and knowledge you have developed during your career at Soka.


All SUA seniors must enroll in CAPSTONE 390 in the fall, CAPSTONE 400 during January block, and CAPSTONE 450 during spring semester to produce a 30-page written capstone.

The capstone must include: 

  • an appropriate and clearly stated research question or questions, and
  • a clearly stated methodology for answering the research question or questions, and data sources.

The capstone project is developed and conducted in close collaboration with the faculty mentor. Some capstone projects require field research or laboratory experiments while others might be more focused on a literature analysis. Laboratory capstones require specific coursework and substantial preparation in the summer prior to the senior year.

Topics Studied by Previous ES Capstone Students

ES became an official concentration in 2009 with Professors Mazeroll, Hamersley, Robles (who left in 2011), and Busenberg. Professor Calef joined in 2010 and Professor Peters in 2013. All other capstone mentors on this page are from other concentrations.

Boralessa, Michelle “Conflicting Public Health and Environmental Interests: Weighing the Risks and Benefits of DDT Use for Malaria Management” – George Busenberg

Goodhue, Angelina “Fast fashion’s underbelly: A socioenvironmental critique and exploratory response” – Deike Peters

Hamaguchi, Kiyomi “The Roles of Food Banks for Food Waste Reduction and Food Security in Japan” – Deike Peters

James, David “What makes a place biophilic: how the biophilia hypothesis translates into the built environment in Japan” –​​​​​​​ Deike Peters

Lindenmayer, Randall “Review on ICP-based analysis of trace metals in various seaweed species” – Zahra Afrasiabi

McEnteer, Joaquin “Infrastructural investment and the evolution of urban spaces: a case study in European port cities” – Monika Calef

Militar, Vianne “Building climate resilience in metro Manila’s information settlements through the lens of community-driven development” –​​​​​​​ Deike Peters

Rana Magnar, Anjan “Nut Industry in the Central Valley (CA), The Water Crisis And, Groundwater Depletion” – Monika Calef

Sarkodi, Kofi “The utilization of plastic as an alternative sustainable building material to reduce housing cost and plastic waste in developing nations” –​​​​​​​ Deike Peters

Sugiura, Takashi “Changing Japan’s clean energy policy: The current status of offshore wind power and its future potential” – George Busenberg

Topp, Mary “Conscious consumption and food justice: “ethical” food in Los Angeles and New York City” –​​​​​​​ Deike Peters

Tumbale, Nicky “Assessing the relationship between the distribution of shorebirds and the relative abundance of sandy and rocky intertidal habitats along the coast of Laguna Beach, CA” – Monika Calef

Wimmer, Wendy “Totally Buggin’!: The use of insects as sustainable food source” – Anthony Mazeroll

Addonigio, Merina “Climate Change and Water Planning in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California” – George J. Busenberg

Gray, Yossarian “The Perfect Invader: Determining the threat that potentially invasive, parthenogenetic Marmorkrebs (Procambarus virginalis) pose to California” – Marie Nydam

Hosomi, Momoka “Sustainable Waste Management in the City of San Francisco” – George J. Busenberg

Inamura, Sora “Energy Grid System Transformation for Renewable Energy Installation” – George J. Busenberg

Kamiuchi, Ryota “The effect of water hyacinth biochar on spinach growth and nutrients in andisol and ultisol” – M. Robert Hamersley

Kawanescicayuga, Madeleine “The History, Present, and Potential of Wind Energy in the United States” – George J. Busenberg

Koga, Harumi “Renewable Energy Policies in Japan, the United States, and India” – George J. Busenberg

Kohn, Shelby “Barriers and Facilitators to Effective Climate Change Education for K-5 Children in Southern Orange County, California” – Deike Peters

Konishi, Saori “Exploring the Potential of Container-Based Sanitation Technologies in Urban Slums and its Distribution through Social Entrepreneurship” – Deike Peters

Morales, Sergio “The Tianguis in the Diaspora: Informal Markets and the Transformation of Food Systems from Below” – Deike Peters

Osuna, Jackie “Alternative Development Ideologies and their Application in Low-Income Communities in the United States” – Deike Peters

Reitz, Maddie “Alternative Environmental Education Strategies for Building Community Resilience During Climate Crisis” – Aneil Rallin

Saeki, Takami “Geographical Analysis of Almond Orchards and Groundwater Depletion During the 2011-2017 Drought in Central Valley, California” – Monika P. Calef

Shimbo, Hidemi “The Impacts of Increased Temperatures on Growth of Soft Corals” – Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Thapaliya, Subina “Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods Risk Management in Nepal: Recommendations for Community-based Approach” – M. Robert Hamersley

Tomita, Mayuma “The Three Gorges Dam, China: Hiding Ugly Truths with Ideology” – George J. Busenberg

Yamagishi, Seira “Achieving improved energy efficiency in buildings: Can the U.S. Experiences Provide Lessons for Japan?” – Deike Peters

Batuchtinas, Karolis “An Assessment of Air Pollution and Geography of Oman” – Monika Calef

Bekele, Rodas “Gender and Transportation in a Rapidly Urbanizing African Country: A Case of Ethiopia” – Deike Peters

Bennett, Katherine “Coal Ash, Climate Change, and Contamination: Investigating the Effects of Wet Coal Ash Impoundments on North Carolina’s Communities and Environment” – Anthony Mazeroll

Bird-Fremont, Jeremy “An Examination of California’s Cap-and-Trade Policy’s Emissions Reductions with Oregon as a Control” – Diya Mazumder

Changufu, Thokozile “Zambia, Eastern Province, Climate Change and REDD: An Evaluation of the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Program for Advancing REDD in Zambia” – George Busenberg

Eimviriyapong, Benjasiri “Desiccation Tolerance of the Red Alga Bostrychia tenella and Other Intertidal Algae Species from Thailand” – Susan Walsh

Escaneno, Adrian “Environmental Conservation Curriculum for the Junior Conservationist Program at the Amazon Research Center for Ornamental Fishes in Iquitos, Peru” – Anthony Mazeroll

Jacob, Hannah “Scientific Illustration of British Columbia Marine Ecosystem and Human Impacts” – Anne Pearce

Nichols, Claire “Continued Persistence of Non-Native Ascidians in Southern California Harbors and Marinas” – Marie Nydam

Rueegger, Linus “Outdoor Education as an Educational Alternative in Response to COVID-19: A Case Study of Portland, Oregon” – Deike Peters

Shestra, Sweta “Sustainable Transport Services for Women in Kathmandu: The Case Study of Public Transport” – Deike Peters

Antinarelli, Naomi “Environmental Health Justice: Exide Battery Recycling Plant Case Study” – Deike Peters

Cheam, Clarissa “A comparison between peat swamp forest burning trends in Sarawak, Malaysia and Kalimantan, Indonesia” – Monika Calef

Fujiwara, Yu “Evaluation of A Low-Waste Event Plan for SUA Student Affairs” – Robert Hamersley

Heller, Laura “Tracking the Spread of Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) in Iquitos, Peru” – Anthony Mazeroll

Iwaki, Ryohei “Geographical Analysis of Urawa Ward during the Japanese High Economic Growth Period (around 1955-73) and the Transition of Development of Saitama City” – Monika Calef

Jankowiak, Katelynn “Ecological effects of Exotic Fish Species in the Peruvian Amazon” – Anthony Mazeroll

Maskarinec, Cerelia “Agricultural Challenges in the Context of Climate Change: Exploring the Effects of Soil Salinization and Potential Crop Diversifications” – Anthony Mazeroll

Onita, Chiaki “Regional Effects of Climate Change on Indian State Economy” – Diya Mazumder

Pierce, Isolde “Sea star wasting syndrome on the California coast” – Monika Calef

Pritzl, Jordan “Plastic Ingestion by Chinese Mackerel (Scomberomorus sinensis)” – Anthony Mazeroll

Sood, Amrita “Temperature Mediated Impact of Nitrate Inhibition on Methanogenesis in Freshwater Wetland” – M. Robert Hamersley

Allman, Madeline “Disaster management in Japan” – George Busenberg

Amundsen, Linden “Renewable energy development in China: a potential pathway to a low carbon future” – George Busenberg

Ballard, Chloe “Corporate sustainability: a review of varying initiatives” – George Busenberg

Bhusal, Sami “Sustainable transportation planning in Hyderabad: a critical review of the comprehensive transportation study of Hyderabad Metropolitan Area (CTSHMA)” – Deike Peters

Cheong, Megan “The plight of the Honey Bee: factors leading to colony collapse and mitigation strategies” – Monika Calef

Frye, Zoe “Ecovillages, intentional communities, and environmental education” – Anthony Mazeroll

Gilbert, Natalia “Management of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center” – George Busenberg

Goldstein, Eliot “Home-sharing platforms, their impact on urban sustainability, and restorative policy intervention: a dual local case study on Airbnb in Santa Monica and Venice” – Deike Peters

Hartwell, Rhea “The sustainable use and conservation of Podocnemis unifilis (Taricaya) in the Peruvian Amazon” – Anthony Mazeroll

Hashizume, Yuta “Historical development of environmental education policy in Japan” – George Busenberg

Hou, Katarina “Comparison of rural electrification in Myanmar and Thailand” – George Busenberg

Ichijo, Tatsuki “The development and stagnation of the solar power industry in Japan” – George Busenberg

Ito, Koichi “Assessing the effectiveness of global environment facility grants in building local capacity for sustainable urban transport: a case study of Jakarta” – Deike Peters

Kermoade, MacKenzie “Management of marine mammals in Arctic coastal indigenous groups: a comparison of Alaskan Iñupiat and Greenlandic Kalaallit subsistence” – George Busenberg

Kimura, Yusaku “Virtual water flow in Japan evaluating the impact of bovine and swine trade from Australia and the United States” – George Busenberg

Kudo, Mitsuyoshi “Mottainai - seeking potential solution to food waste through surveying food banks in Japan” – Monika Calef

Lee, Min-Rui “Japan’s food self-sufficiency: Hokkaido’s local and individual initiatives” – Monika Calef

Mishra, Prashank “The impact of silver nanoparticles of different coatings and sizes on soil enzymatic activities involved in biogeochemical cycles” – Zahra Afrasiabi

Nakazaki, Ryan “Constructing inevitability in the Honolulu rail transit project” – Deike Peters

Nazha, Tamy “Place-making as a tool for urban revitalization: the role of sustainable transit infrastructure in Strasbourg, France” – Deike Peters

Ng, Lauren “Sustainable waste management in San Francisco, California” – George Busenberg

Nguyen, Thuy “The potential of integrating technological innovations in disaster risk reduction during the age of catastrophes: case study from Japan” – George Busenberg

Pande, Asmita “Acute toxicity of copper sulfate on a native and an invasive snail in Southern California” – Anthony Mazeroll

Patterson, Avery “Waste audit and waste management plan for Soka University of America” – Robert Hamersley

Polonsky, Alexander “Renewable energy in California” – George Busenberg

Sandoval, Daniella “Female fecundity of Blue Gourami” – Anthony Mazeroll

Swinney, Samantha “Thermal tolerance of invasive fishes in the Peruvian Amazon” – Anthony Mazeroll

Tan, Hung “China’s progress towards a low-carbon economy” – George Busenberg

Xue, Yutong “Presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Iquitos, Peru” – Anthony Mazeroll

Yamada, Sumire “Storm water management in Japan” – George Busenberg

Byers, Sydney “Climate change, ocean acidification, and the environmental management of Pacific Islands” – George J. Busenberg

Chica, Joan “TransMilenio, a solution for what? Promises brought upon TransMilenio unfulfilled” – Deike Peters

Gotschall, Ioanna “The policy implications of sea level rise in Kiribati” – George J. Busenberg

Ikeda, Masakazu “Comparison between German and Japanese solar energy management” – George J. Busenberg

Kemlage, Kylee “Mate choice in an invasive species: Gambusia affinis″ – Anthony Mazeroll

Kitamura, Akiko “Effectiveness of the HOV system and the yellow clean air vehicle decal program on Interstate 5 in Orange County, California” – Diya Mazumder

Kuki, Yumiko “The intersection of urban agriculture, food justice, and urban planning in South Los Angeles” – Deike Peters

O’Connor, Valerie Escherichia coli in the environment: a case study comparing recreational and non-recreational E. coli densities in the LA river” – Anthony Mazeroll

Park, Elissa “Sex secrets: The gendered connection to the non-human” – Tomas Crowder Taraborelli

Tan, Cai “Effects of sulfate and nitrate on methane production in an urban wetland” – Robert Hamersley

Trinidad, Erika “The sonic Red Line: analyzing the sonic identity of the Los Angeles Metro Red Line” – Deike Peters

Whyte, Alexander “Air and water pollution in Taiwan” – Monika Calef

Yasue, Hideaki “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as the solution to transportation and urban challenges in Jakarta: An analysis of the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s pre-feasibility study for Tangerang City” – Deike Peters

Zhou, Yuye “Journey to the mind of nature —A comparative analysis of the Western and the Eastern human-nature relationships through philosophy and poetry” – John Kehlen

Boutin, Christina “Approaching the nonhuman: navigating art, abjection, and ambiguity for a post-natural ecology” – Oleg Gelikman

Chin, Fook Hong “From master-planned suburb to Asian Ethnoburg: the impact of out-migration of whites vs. in-migration of Asians on the social diversity, residential segregation, and built environment of Irvine, California” – Deike Peters

Cox, William Evans “Environmental Protection at Camp Pendleton” – George J. Busenberg

Goshert, Dominic “The spread of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa: how do rapid urbanization and climate change contribute to it and what are the most effective strategies for eradication?” – Deike Peters

James, Jade Catherine “Changes in Swallow Tailed Kite migration and population between 1980-2016″– Monika P. Calef

Loh, Wei Hong “Solar energy potential in Malaysia” – Monika P. Calef

Ma, Yu-An “The modern human food system – case studies from the U.S., Taiwan, and Japan” – Michael Golden

Maddex, Sean “Improving integrated waste management systems in Argentina” – George J. Busenberg

Mizuishi, Hiromitsu “The policy viability of carbon taxation for climate change mitigation” – George J. Busenberg

Murayama, Akemi “Japanese energy policy after the Fukushima Disaster” – George J. Busenberg

Takahashi, Sachiyo “Renewable energy in California, Germany, and Japan” – George J. Busenberg

Burnett, Amelia Grace “Mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia: solidifying our place culture and ecology and performing our histories in cultural expression” – Michael Golden

Hagiwara, Hidemi “Analysis of the 2015 climate change conference” – George J. Busenberg

Hashimoto, Hiromi “Climate change and informal urban settlements: building resilience for the urban poor in Nairobi Kenya” – Deike Peters

Horibe, Satsuk “Water audit of Soka University of America” – M. Robert Hamersley

Kanaoka, Koichi “Inhibition of methanogenesis by nitrate and denitrification intermediates in wetland sediments” – M. Robert Hamersley

Lee, Clarisse See Mon “Ecological sustainability planning in Hawai’i: a critique of the Hawai’i 2050 Plan and the proposal of the indigenous ‘Aha Moku natural resource management system” – Deike Peters

Levitt, Kayleigh “Laguna Coast Wilderness Park: politics of the ecological imaginary” – Edward D. Lowe

Tamura, Eri “Aquaponics: opportunities for sustainable food production” – Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Ueno, Sachiko “The impact of climatic parameters on the wildland fires in San Diego County” – Monika P. Calef

Witt, Stella Zoe “River ecology and ecological restoration: a case study of the Los Angeles River” – Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Zelmar, Renae “Local-international interfaces in sustainable urban development in Latin America: complexity and discursive hegemony” – Deike Peters

Cheong, Wee Leng “Transportation and environmental justice in south Los Angeles” – Deike Peters

Clemens, Lauren “Marine protected area management in Southern California” – George J. Busenberg

Dinh, Anne “Methanogenesis and denitrification in wetland sediments” – M. Robert Hamersley

Madrid, Luisa “Mine your own business: corporate social responsibility in the mining industry” – George J. Busenberg

Morikawa, Kiyomi “Biohazard waste management in Southern California and India” – George J. Busenberg

Peck, Nicholas M “The fishing industry and the environment in Japan” – Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Rader, Yoko “Effects of labeling and environmental education on consumption preferences” – George J. Busenberg

Tran, Vinh “Genetic diversity of methanogens in a Southern California freshwater wetland impacted by urban runoff” – M. Robert Hamersley

Good, Amanda N “The effect of climate change on the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean” – Monika P. Calef

Maaliki, Ranya “Environmental education in protected areas of Orange County: the Laguna Wilderness”– George J. Busenberg

Marasovich, Leia Vita “Retrofitting Aliso Viejo Town Center through ecological design” – Deike Peters

Perry, Aaron Matthew “Striving for a transit-oriented Orange County: case study on development conditions of the Anaheim Regional Transportation Center” – Deike Peters

Randolph, Sarah Elizabeth “In search of the Los Angeles public: the L.A. River as a site for cosmopolitanism” – Edward D. Lowe

Stucker, James “Electronic waste policy in California” – George J. Busenberg 

Yurwit, Yona “Farmers markets and local food access in Orange County California” – Monika P. Calef

Diaz, Juliana “Wetland restoration: a comparison of the Chesapeake Bay and the Newport Bay restoration projects” – Monika P. Calef

Fujii, Mariko “Sustainable neighborhood development” – M. Robert Hamersley

Gauthier, James Cole “Aliso Viejo green city initiative and Mission Viejo green building program: how local governments can successfully implement and promote practices of environmental protection and sustainability” – George J. Busenberg

Izumi, Seiichi “Mega-solar projects in Japan: development and management practices” – George J. Busenberg

Java, Madhavi “To what extent does organic farming contribute to environmental protection?” – George J. Busenberg

Lorenzo, Silda “Effects of temperature on the reproductive rate of Betta splendens in relation to climate change“– Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Murakami, Yusaku Lee “The coastal management of Newport Beach“– George J. Busenberg

Nakamura, Ai “Groundwater nutrient pollution in an urban wetland in Newport Bay California” – M. Robert Hamersley

Nomura, Nicole “Hemp: a sustainable renewable resource” – Monika P. Calef

Takeuchi, Masayuki “Biogenic greenhouse gas fluxes from an urban freshwater wetland fringing Upper Newport Bay in southern California” – M. Robert Hamersley

Choudhury, Nandini “Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infection in captive Anurans: a disease survey” – Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Khatiwada, Shishir “US media and nuclear power” – George J. Busenberg

Maynard, Nathaniel John “Same same but different: the ecological impacts of the Blue Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus) in Peru” – Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Moromisato, Erika “The effect of incubation and water temperature on the embryonic development and hatching rates of the African killifish Fundulopanchax gardneri“ – Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Orui, Sachiko “The relationships between humans and other animals: case studies of National Institute of Biodiversity and the Jaguar Rescue Center in Costa Rica” – Ryan Ashley Caldwell

Ryu, George “Greenhouse gas fluxes across sediments of an urban freshwater wetland” – M. Robert Hamersley

Spivey, William “Effect of groundwater from urban development in Newport Bay California” – M. Robert Hamersley

Starinieri, Nicholas Gian “Comparison of the nutrient uptake ability of four aquatic macrophytes” – Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Takishima, Yui “Laguna’s protected natural areas: development and management” – George J. Busenberg

Whone, Annalise “Competition between exotic and native California grasses: passengers or drivers of ecological change?” – Anthony Inder Mazeroll

Chen, Erica “Oil spill response at sea” – George J. Busenberg

Chua, Chuen Kiat (Johnny) “Offshore oil and environmental management in the United States” – George J. Busenberg

Helgerson, Heidi Kathryn “The progression of marine oil pollution prevention in the United States” – George J. Busenberg

Holmatov, Bunyod “Heavy metals in wetland water impacted by urban runoff” – M. Robert Hamersley

Kan, Cheng Kuan “Understanding carbon dioxide footprint at Soka University of America” – Mario Robles

Kishi, Masatoshi Mickey “Anaerobic co-digestion of mature landfill leachate with synthetic wastewater in an up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor” – M. Robert Hamersley

Koike, Alvin “The study of antioxidative properties from naturally derived products” – Mario Robles

Mitsuoka, Nobuko “Cadmium accumulation and potential use for phytoremediation of Californian plants” – Mario Robles

Nakajima, Masaru “Pollutant mass fluxes in wood canyon wetland” – M. Robert Hamersley

Shimizu, Akira “Respiration in wetland sediments receiving urban runoff” – M. Robert Hamersley

Shoji, Tyko “The fate of groundwater nutrient inputs into a freshwater marsh in Newport Bay California” – M. Robert Hamersley

Williams, Gregory Scott “Projecting sustainability: a conceptual history and new directions” – Oleg Gelikman

Yamamoto, Ami “Solid waste management in Japan and the United States: environmental impacts of incinerations and landfills” – George J. Busenberg


Kikuchi, Taeko “Environmental management of the Prima Deshecha landfill” – George J. Busenberg


Ueda, Amy “Water demand management measures in Southern California: a policy analysis” – M. Robert Hamersley


Goundar, Krishneel “Volumetric differences in the brain structure for spatial cognition in two species of poison-dart frogs D. pumilio and D. auratus” – Anthony Inder Mazeroll