For questions and additional information please contact:

Dr. Brian Bagatto
Auburn Science and Engineering Center W179
The University of Akron
Akron, OH 44325–3908

Honors Project Course Information

3100:499—Senior Honors Program in Biology (2–3 credits)
Prerequisites: senior standing in Honors College and approval of honors preceptor. Open only to biology and natural sciences divisional majors in Honors College.

Independent study leading to completion of approved senior honors.

General Comments

The purpose of the Honors project in Biology is to provide students direct biological research experience. The following guide provides specific departmental requirements, expectations and advice for honors students preparing to participate in the honors research experience in the Department of Biology.

The Department of Biology recommends that in the fall of the junior year, students should seek out a sponsor for their biology honors project and decide on a mentor/research project early in the spring semester. Sponsors for biology honors projects are generally faculty from the Biology department, but not always. In the past students have worked in laboratories at Summa Hospital, Akron General and Children’s Hospital. In addition students have worked for faculty in the Chemistry and Polymer departments. It is important to obtain permission from the Biology department’s Honors Preceptor before beginning projects outside of the Biology department. Summer internships have also been used as honors projects however permission must be obtained before the project begins.

The Honors College requires that students and sponsors fill out the honors project form from the Honors college web site by the end of the junior year. However, the Department of Biology strongly recommends that students have found a sponsor, and in many cases begun their research, far in advance of this deadline. It is important to begin the process of determining a project as earlier as possible because many research projects may require collection of data over a six to 12-month span. It is likely that biology faculty will not accept students if they don’t have enough lead time to reasonably complete a project in their lab. Therefore, contacting potential faculty for Honors projects early is the best thing a student can do for success. Typically, the summer between the junior and senior year can offer a good time to spend time in the sponsor’s laboratory or other locations of research (e.g. field station, hospital) when other research projects are most active and the mentor and other graduate students are likely to be most active.

Advisors and sponsors should set clear parameters with respect to expectations for the completion of the honors thesis. Students should be sure to ask potential sponsor how long the proposed research is expected to take to finish, how many honors thesis credits they should take and when (i.e. summer, fall or spring). It is expected that at the completion of their project students will participate in a poster session presentation of their research either at the Biology Research Symposia (BURs) held at the end of April or at a poster presentation held by the Honors College. In addition to the poster a final written work in the form of a scientific journal article is required.

Timeline and Schedule

In general, the grade for the project is usually based upon completion of a written paper in the form of a scientific journal article. An Honors project in biology is usually 2 or 3 credits. Students are expected to perform 3 hours of laboratory work each week for each credit hour enrolled. If a project extends past one semester (this is common) the student will receive the grade of in progress (IP) for the first semester and subsequent semesters until the project is finished.

Each proposal will have two readers which will be agreed upon at the time of submitting the research proposal. The role of the readers is to give feedback and suggest changes for the final project. As a result readers and your project mentor should be provided copies of your thesis in its final stages at least 8 weeks before grades are due (for spring graduates this would typically be the first week of March). You should expect to make changes after your readers give you feedback on the project. With changes made you should provide your project mentor, and any reader that has asked to see the final version, a final draft for review at least three weeks before grades are due. With these deadlines in mind you should expect that you will have collected the data for your project in the summer and/or fall with attention paid to writing up the results in the spring semester. The completed project must be signed by all readers and handed in no later than 5 PM on Friday the thirteenth week of the semester.

If the project sponsor believes that progress toward completion of the research and final written results has not been demonstrated by the 8 week deadline or any reader feels that significant additional data collection or writing needs to be done prior to completion the mentor can recommend delaying graduation.