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Honors Program in Biology
Effective Date: October 2, 2002
The Honors Program trains students to conduct independent research in Biology. In addition to completing all the requirements for the Biology concentration, an Honors degree requires a concentration GPA of at least 3.4, and the completion of a significant piece of independent research that is reported in an Honors thesis and presented in a public forum.
Admission to the Honors Program. It is recommended that students discuss the Honors Program with a concentration advisor early in their undergraduate career, and to meet with a concentration advisor to declare their Honors no later than six months prior to submission of the thesis.
The Honors Program
- Research. The student must identify a research mentor, preferably by the end of the sophomore year. The research mentor can be a member of the Departments of EEB or MCDB, or a life scientist holding a faculty appointment in another unit of the University, such as the Medical School or the School of Public Health. If the mentor is not a member of the EEB or MCDB Departments, the student must also identify a co-sponsor from within the EEB or MCDB Departments.
- Students are encouraged to register for independent research (EEB 300 or 400, or MCDB 300 or 400) for at least two terms; most students register for three or four terms of independent research. Students working in labs outside of EEB or MCDB will usually register for EEB or MCDB 300 and 400 through their co-sponsorís independent study number. It is permitted, however, to use the independent study number of another department if the co-sponsor approves it.
- It is highly recommended that students arrange to work full time on their Honors thesis during the summer between their junior and senior years. A limited amount of funds are available from university fellowships, so in most cases, support will have to come from the sponsoring lab. For students working in areas of field biology, it is often necessary to arrange for two field seasons to complete a project. For this reason, students working on field-based topics are urged to contact faculty about the possibility of starting work during the summer between their sophomore and junior years.
- Readers. Prior to submitting the thesis, the student should identify three readers for the thesis, one of whom is the sponsor. At least two readers must be faculty members of the Departments of EEB or MCDB, unless the student receives the written approval of the Biology Honors Committee for an exception. Readers must agree to turn in their evaluations within ten days after the thesis is submitted.
- The Honors Thesis. The thesis will be due on April 1, August 1, or December 1, depending on the anticipated graduation date. Based on the material presented in the Honors thesis and the studentís overall record, the readers of the thesis will recommend a rating of "No Honors," "Honors," "High Honors," or "Highest Honors." Readers of Honors theses are expected to file their reports with the Biology Program Honors Committee within ten days after the thesis is submitted. The reports of all readers should address the quality of the science reported in the thesis, as well as the quality of the written presentation. The report of the mentor should also address the role the student played in the design, execution, and interpretation of the experiments reported in the thesis, and should point out the role that others in the lab played.
The Biology Program Honors Committee will meet approximately two weeks after the due date of theses to review the recommenda-tions of the readers and decide on the appropriate level of Honors. The committee will attempt to maintain uniform standards for Honors and is not constrained by the level of Honors recom-mended by the readers. The Honors Committee may decide to table discussion and request the student to revise the thesis if they believe that a revised version might merit a higher rating.
- Oral Presentation. The student will present the research results in an advertised public forum, such as a class, poster session, or a departmental seminar. The mentor will declare in the thesis evaluation letter when and where the student has made such a presentation.
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