HONORS PROGRAM ACTIVITIES
One of the main activities of the Biology Honors Program is the weekly Biology Honors Seminar (BSCI 398H). This seminar has 3 primary goals: 1) Intellectual stimulation from accomplished professionals inside and outside of the university who speak about their research, career trajectories and options, 2) transfer of relevant information about research and study opportunities, upcoming time lines and dead lines for the Biology Honors Program (especially related to the thesis), and other information relevant to professional development of the students, 3) continuity and social opportunities with the cadre of students and faculty in the Biology Honors Program (this may include social events and field trips).
The other primary activity of the Biology Honors Program involves research. Students gain an appreciation for the research process, including:
1) Identifying a problem.
The problem may originate with the student's mentor, but as the student gains experience the problem should evolve into one that has aspects contributed by the student.
2) Appreciating the background to the problem.
Background may be acquired through reading relevant literature and discussion with the mentor.
3) Developing a Hypothesis.
A statement summarizing one's understanding of the system under study in a way that permits a testing of the correctness of that understanding.
4) Learning the methods and acquiring the data.
Suitable methods of description of experimentation that appear appropriate to yield the data necessary for testing the hypothesis are selected and developed. Observations or experiments are executed by the student and the results are recorded.
5) Analyzing and interpreting data.
Graphic and statistical analyses of the data are completed in a manner appropriate for testing the stated hypothesis. The student then interprets the data and results from analyses, drawing conclusions, and perhaps suggests alternative hypotheses.
6) Presenting the information.
The student will have an opportunity to present a preliminary version of their thesis to a supportive audience in the Biology Honors Seminar prior to their presentation to the department and in their thesis defense. In addition, the thesis itself will be prepared in the format of a scientific journal publication for the faculty committee prior to the Thesis Defense. Students are strongly encouraged to submit their work for publication, often in association with their mentor or other collaborators.