Capstone Research Program

All Biology majors are required to participate in a capstone experience, usually done in an area of interest to the student under the supervision of a faculty member.  Alternatively, projects may be done in collaboration with off-campus research institutions, facilities, or organizations (see links below).

The student's work is presented at the Department's Student Poster Day held biannually in December and May. Each semester one student presenter receives the Shaun M. Thornton Award for excellence in research, established in 1993 to honor the memory of a Biology major who died in a traffic accident. The award is given to the student who gives the best poster presentation about their experience.


BIOL 460 Research Experience in Biology
A synthesis of the undergraduate Biology experience. Students work on research projects under the supervision of a member of the Biology Department. Projects may include laboratory techniques, field skills, experimental design, data analysis, and scientific communication. This course is open to Biology majors only. Course meets for six (6) hours per week. Content and assignments vary by semester and instructor. Prerequisites: MATH 208 Biostatistics or ENVS 202 Data Analysis for Scientists; four (4) biology courses at the 200-level or above, a minimum GPA of 2.00 in courses within the major, and completion of BIOL 230 Professional Communication in Biology with a grade of C- (1.70) or higher; or permission of the instructor.

BIOL 490 Independent Study in Biology  
An opportunity for the Biology major to work independently in an area relevant to the student’s specific interests. Each student’s experience is planned in cooperation with a Department member. Progress reports and final written and oral reports are required. Prerequisites: Biology major of junior or senior standing, two semesters completed at Framingham State University, overall QPA of 2.50, and approval of the Department Chair. The independent study option is reserved for those students who have previously demonstrated sufficient motivation and self-discipline to work independently.

BIOL 495 Internship in Biology  
A supervised field study in the student’s area of interest that complements formal course work. The internship program is offered through cooperation with participating institutions that provide guidance for the interns. A minimum of 160 on-site hours is necessary to complete the Internship in Biology and must be verified by the on-site supervisor and a member of the Biology faculty. The 160 hours must be completed within one semester. The Internship in Biology may be taken for one (1) course-credit in the major as a free elective. A student may not enroll in an internship more than twice (two (2) course-credits). Any student interested in participating in an internship must consult with the Department Chair prior to the middle of the semester preceding the semester of the desired internship. The student must submit a written plan for the internship to the Department Chair, and the plan must be approved by the Department Chair as well as the faculty member who serves as Internship Coordinator. The student must meet with the Internship Coordinator at least four times during the semester. The grade for the internship is assigned by the Internship Coordinator and the on-site supervisor.

Examples of Off-Campus Field Study Opportunities

The International Organization of Biological Field Stations

The Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole

The National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates

The New England Aquarium

The New England Wildflower Society

The Organization of Biological Field Stations

The School for Field Studies

The Sea Education Association's Semester at Sea
The Space Life Sciences Training Program at NASA's Ames Research Center

The Student Conservation Association