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Biology

BI 470, 472, 499 Directed Research

Catalogue description:

An advanced exploration of the practices and techniques of biological research focusing on the design, conduction, and presentation of experiments, data analysis, and information retrieval. Two units are required, one of which may be in the Exploration Term or summer session. During the first term, students will consult with their research advisors and the course facilitator to (a) develop and write a formal research proposal based on literature related to the topic, (b) give an oral presentation of the proposal to the class, and (c) begin their research. During the first term, students will lead discussions of research articles related to their projects.

During the second term, students will (a) give a progress report, (b) complete their research, (c) write a thesis in the form of a scientific article, and (d) prepare an oral presentation summarizing the results of their research. Students will be expected to devote as much time to this course as that required of an upper-level laboratory course. Research may be conducted off-campus if suitable supervision can be arranged. Interdisciplinary research projects are also encouraged. Students conducting their first term of research in the fall, spring, or summer will register for BI 470. Students conducting their second term of research in the fall, spring, or summer will register for BI 472. During Exploration Term, students will register for BI 499, but may only use Exploration Term for the second term of the capstone requirement (BI 470 will not be offered during the Exploration Term term).

Here’s how some students fit directed research into their term sequences:

    • BI 470 Spring junior year, BI 472 Summer between junior and senior year
    • BI 470 Spring junior year, BI 472 Fall senior year
    • BI 470 Summer between junior and senior year, BI 472 Fall senior year
    • BI 470 Fall senior year, BI 499 Exploration Term
    • BI 470 Fall senior year, BI 472 Spring senior year

Additional Details:

The first, and most important step in the process is finding your faculty mentor. You must complete a consent form with your faculty mentor before you can register for BI 470.

In the first term of directed research, you will:

  1. develop a research project with a faculty mentor (on or off-campus)
  2. attend a weekly seminar, where you will discuss papers related to your topic with your peers (view the seminar syllabus)
  3. conduct an extensive literature search on your topic
  4. write and present a formal proposal for your project
  5. have an additional faculty member (NOT your faculty sponsor or course facilitator) read and comment on your final proposal (i.e., after the final copy has been turned in)
  6. begin collecting data

In the second term of directed research, you will:

  1. complete data collection
  2. give a progress report on your research
  3. write a formal scientific paper as if for submission for publication, incorporating comments from your faculty mentor and second faculty reader (see 5, above)
  4. present your findings in accordance with the requirements