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Honors Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
The department conducts an Honors program to trains students to conduct independent research in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. In addition to completing all the requirements for the EEB major, an Honors degree requires a major 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. It is recommended that students discuss the Honors Program with a department advisor early in their undergraduate career, and to meet with a department advisor to declare Honors as soon a possible.
Admission to the Biology Honors Program
Students may join the Honors Program at any time during their undergraduate career, but applications for a given term must be received no later than the deadline for submission of the Honors thesis. However, it is recommended that students discuss the Honors Program with a department advisor early in their undergraduate career, and declare their participation in Honors as soon as possible.
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 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) or a life scientist holding a faculty appointment in another unit of the University, such as the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, or the Life Sciences Institute. If the mentor is not a member of EEB, the student must also identify a co-sponsor from this department.
Students are encouraged to register for independent research (EEB 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 the EEB Department will usually register for EEB 300 and 400 through their co-sponsor s independent study number. However, it is permitted 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, but in most cases support will have to come from the sponsoring lab. 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 their 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 EEB Department, unless the student receives the written approval of the EEB Associate Chair for Curriculum for an exception. Readers must agree to turn in their evaluations within 10 days after the thesis is submitted.
- The Honors Thesis: The thesis is 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 student s 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 10 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 EEB Honors Committee will meet approximately two weeks after the due date of the theses to review the recommendations 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 recommended 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, a poster session, or a departmental seminar. If the number of Honors students graduating in a particular term warrants it, EEB will organize a departmental poster session that would meet this requirement. Students interested in participating are encouraged to contact the EEB Associate Chair for Curriculum at least two months prior to the end of term. The mentor will declare in the thesis evaluation letter when and where the student has fulfilled the public presentation requirement.
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