Capstone Research Program

All Biology majors are required to design, implement, and report on an independent research project. This project is a capstone event, usually done in an area of interest to the student, under the supervision of a faculty member. Projects are carried out over the course of two semesters, usually started in the spring of the junior year and completed in the fall of the senior year. Projects may be done in collaboration with off-campus research institutions, facilities, or organizations (see links below).

The final projects are presented at the Biology Student Research Presentations 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 presenter who gives the best oral and/or poster presentation.

CAPSTONE RESEARCH COURSE SEQUENCE

BIOL 308 Reading and Analysis of Biological Literature (0.5 course-credit)
An introduction to peer-reviewed publications in the biological sciences. Students learn how to critically read and interpret current and classical research articles. Skills developed include data interpretation, analysis of methodology and conclusions, and determination of the paper’s overall impact in the field of biology. Topics vary by semester with instructor. This course is open to Biology majors only.
Prerequisites: CHEM 108 Principles of Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis, MATH 200 Precalculus, and completion of BIOL 161 Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology with a grade of C- (1.70) or higher; or permission of instructor.

BIOL 318 Writing for the Biological Sciences (0.5 course-credit)
Designed to develop skills in scientific writing to prepare students for future biology coursework and careers. Skills developed include the appropriate use of scientific style and format, the ability to summarize and critically evaluate research findings, and the proper citation of sources. This course is open to Biology majors only.
Prerequisites: BIOL 308 Reading and Analysis of Biological Literature with a minimum grade of C- (1.70) or permission of instructor.

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 318 Writing for the Biological Sciences with a grade of C- (1.70) or higher; or permission of the instructor.

Prior to enrollment in BIOL 460 Research Experience in Biology, the student should meet with her/his advisor and with other Biology faculty to tailor the research project to the student’s interests and career goals.

OFF-CAMPUS RESEARCH 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