Biology | Health & Human Biology | Biophysics | Marine Biology (thru '16)

    honors seal


    More than 30% of concentrators in the Biological Sciences earn Honors each year. To be eligible for honors students will meet three requirements: 1) completion of an original research thesis that is recommended for honors by both the advisor and reader, 2) presentation of the thesis research publically (oral or by poster), and 3) demonstration of quality grades in the concentration.

    The deadlines and guidelines below apply to students in the following concentrations: Biology ScB & AB, Health & Human Biology, Biophysics and Marine Biology (Marine Biology through Class of 2016).
    Concentrators in Biochemistry apply via Biochemistry advisors; Applied Math-Biology students apply via Applied Mathematics; Computational Biology students should apply via CCMB; Biomedical Engineering (BME) concentrators proceed via Engineering.

    Honors Application & Evaluation Deadlines
    Students graduating in May:
                Honors application due:                                                      First Monday in October
                Final thesis and mentor evaluation due:                           Last Monday in April

    Students graduating in December*:

               Honors application due:                                                       First Monday in March
               Final thesis and mentor evaluation due:                            First Monday in December
    *Students planning to graduate in December 2015 have until September 1, 2015, to apply for honors.

    The Honors proposal application can be downloaded here: HONORS APPLICATION.

    Expectations of a Senior Honors Thesis in Biology
    A senior honors thesis in Biology is a substantial body of original scholarly research. Successful theses can be grounded in a number of approaches including bench or field research, clinical study, mathematical models, computer simulations, meta-analyses that test hypotheses or yield new synthesis in a scholarly context. Regardless of the approach, successful theses will be inquiry-based and demonstrate contextual understanding of the work, formal assessment of scientific information, critical thinking, clear communication and a high level of independence.

    Honors Thesis Planning
    The senior honors thesis is typically developed through a minimum of two semesters of BIOL 1950 (fall)/1960 (spring). Students intending to pursue a thesis in Biology often have a Brown faculty mentor and project lined up in the summer prior to the senior year. Many students use UTRAs to help support research, though this is not the only mechanism of support. The university also offers LINK awards and often faculty members offer student support from their own grants.

    The Advisory Committee
    The Thesis Advisor is the primary investigator who will mentor the project, and who will be available to the student in developing the thesis aims, designing methods, analyzing data, interpreting outcomes and casting the work in the context of the scholarly field(s) of relevance. The Thesis Advisor is expected to be a Brown faculty member, usually but not always, from the Division of Biology and Medicine.

    The Second Reader will be a faculty member or associated scientist who is identified by the student, in consult with the Thesis Advisor, as appropriate to review the work. The Second Reader will evaluate the thesis, and provide an evaluation of the work. Second Readers should be acquainted with the field of research described by the project, and be willing and able to provide input and critique that will challenge and strengthen the thesis. The Second Reader should be at the doctoral level and ideally not from the same laboratory or research group where the project originates.

    The Thesis Advisor and Second Reader will recommend the thesis for honors in Biology. - Faculty honors advisors will receive an electronic evaluation form directly from the Office Biology Undergraduate Education {BUE}.

    Thesis Guidelines

    It is up to the student and Thesis advisor to determine the specific expectations for the final thesis. Elements of a thesis in Biology vary greatly depending on the nature of the project, the specific sub-field, and ideally the student’s learning goals. Communication about these expectations should be clearly articulated and agreed upon early in the research process.

    - An electronic copy of the final thesis should be submitted to the BUE Office at bioundergradeducation@brown.edu with the subject heading "Final Senior Thesis."

    Oral seminar / Poster presentation
    Presentation of the honors thesis research can be fulfilled by participation in the Biology Undergraduate Research Poster Day or an arranged oral seminar. If the oral seminar format is chosen, the student will make arrangements, with advisors' approval, for scheduling and invitations. The Biology Undergraduate Research Poster Day is organized annually in mid/late-April.

    Quality Grades
    Honors recipients typically maintain a Grade Point Average of 3.4 or higher in the concentration. However, in the case of outstanding independent research as demonstrated in the thesis and supported by the Thesis Committee, candidates with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.4 will be considered and are encouraged to apply.

    Honors Evaluation
    Following review of the thesis and the presentation of research, the thesis advisor and second reader will complete an Honors evaluation. Honors is expected to be recommended if the work is assessed as Satisfactory or better, with all stipulations, deadlines and grade requirements met. The electronic Honors evaluation form will be provided directly to the faculty advisors by the Office of Biology Undergraduate Education.

Sigma XI: Scientific Research Honor Society


Guidelines, Criteria & Application

SIGMA XI Application DEADLINE: closed