Biological Sciences confers Honors to a select set of graduating seniors, based partly on grades within the major, but more particularly on the quality of research and writing evidenced in formal Senior Theses.
Requirements to Receive Honors:
- Minimum GPA of 3.30 in all BIOL SCI courses through Winter Quarter of Senior year
- Completion by the end of Winter Quarter of the Senior year of at least two research registrations (BIOL_SCI 397, BIOL_SCI 398, or BIOL_SCI 399).
- Submission of a Senior Thesis:
- Judged to be professionally written by the student
- Representing a significant research accomplishment
- Data in thesis collected and analyzed wholly by the student
- Recommendation for Honors by the Biological Sciences Curricular and Honors Board
- Acceptance of the recommendation by the WCAS Honors Committee
Due Dates for Honors Project/Materials:
- By Fall Quarter of Senior Year: Work on thesis project commences
- By January 6th, 2023: Registration in BIOL_SCI 397 (do not register also for BIOL_SCI 398 or BIOL_SCI 399)
- By January 27th, 2023: Provisional versions of 3 sections of thesis to BIOL_SCI 397 Instructor
- By April 27th, 2023: Completed Senior Thesis to the Honors Coordinator, as a PDF attachment
- By April 27th, 2023: Faculty Supervisor's letter of recommendation to the Honors Coordinator
I. Important Steps Towards Honors:
The Faculty Supervisor’s responsibilities are to provide:
- Guidance in choosing a unique, thesis-worthy project
- A supportive research environment
- Appropriate mentoring regarding experiments and interpretation of results
- Advice concerning the writing of the Senior Thesis
The student bears responsibility for conducting the research and writing the Thesis. Data collected by others may not be used in the Thesis. Data that will appear in another person's Masters or Doctoral Thesis may not be used, nor data that will appear in papers without the student as a co-author.
II. Application for Honors
- A student effectively applies for Honors by registering for BIOL_SCI 397 in Winter Quarter (Do NOT register for BIOL_SCI 398 or BIOL_SCI 399 that quarter). BIOL_SCI 397 qualifies as a "300-level Elective for the Biological Sciences major".
The student is expected to have done considerable organizing and writing by the beginning of Winter Quarter. By January 27th, serious though initial versions of these Thesis sections must be provided as Word documents to the instructor of: BIOL_SCI 397.
- Introduction and Literature Survey
- Materials and Methods
- References Cited
The Instructor of BIOL_SCI 397 and the Research Supervisor independently provide suggestions for improvement in the ensuing weeks.
III. Writing the Senior Thesis
The completed Thesis consists of the following sections:
- Title Page: The title of the Thesis, the student’s name, and the name of the Faculty Supervisor.
- Abstract: The Abstract summarizes the problem, the experiments, and the conclusion; one page maximum. Written in third person.
- Table of Contents.
- Introduction and Literature Survey: This section places the research in scientific context. Previous work in the field is referenced and discussed, and its relationship to the Thesis experiments is described.
- Materials and Methods: This section provides details of the experiments and of the analytical (including statistical) techniques utilized. The reasons for choosing the particular method(s) of statistical analysis must be indicated.
- Results: This section includes the objective results of the experiments. Figures and Tables are included as needed, placed at appropriate points within the text. The data are expected to reflect the work of the student, not the work of others in the lab.
- Discussion: This section examines the scientific significance of the experimental results, and suggests possible future directions for related research. The relationship of the results to the work of other researchers is discussed. Included is analysis of why particular experiments succeeded or failed.
- References Cited: References cited in the body of the Thesis should be listed using a format typical of scientific journals in the field. (A consistent style of citation should be used throughout the body of the Thesis; all data or ideas of others must be credited.)
- Curriculum Vitae: The student’s CV concludes the Thesis.
Examples of successful Senior Theses can be found here and here.
IV. Submission of the Thesis and Recommendation Letter
The Thesis needs to be largely completed by the beginning of Spring Quarter, and submitted to the Supervisor for any comment then. A final version of the Senior Thesis in PDF format is sent by the student electronically to the Honors Coordinator by the April Due Date. A recommendation letter from the Faculty Supervisor must be received by the Honors Coordinator by that same date.
V. Review by Honors Committees
An independent Reader is assigned to each Thesis. When the Biological Sciences Curricular and Honors Board meets, letters from the Supervisor and the Reader are considered, along with the Thesis itself. For Honors, there must also be a 3.30 or greater average in Biological Sciences courses. After discussion, the Board votes with regard to whether Honors should be recommended to the Honors Committee of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. It also votes with regard to winners of specific Research Prizes. The Honors Committee of Weinberg College makes the final decisions about granting Honors.
VI. Special Thesis-Based Prizes
There is also an annual competition for four special prizes based solely on the quality of the Senior Theses and the research they represent. Participation in this competition is not contingent upon participation in the Honors program.
The prizes are named after prominent past faculty:
- David Shemin Prize for Basic Research
- Irving Klotz Prize for Basic Research
- Constance Campbell Prize for Basic Research
- Emanuel Margoliash Prize for Basic Research
Research Library assistance
- Biological Sciences research guide: contains key resources for searching the Biology literature
- Subject Librarian: Becca Greenstein is your point of contact at the Libraries who can provide research assistance and answer questions about resources. Contact Becca at email@example.com or 847-467-6606.
- Course reserves are short term loans of course materials. Course reserves for Biology courses are held at the Mudd Library service desk
- Requests, Interlibrary Loan (ILL), and document delivery: request items from our stacks or other libraries to pick up at the service desk; scans of articles and book chapters will be delivered to your email.
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