Honors in Research

A student is seen pipetting cells in a lab.

Our honors in research program recognizes students for outstanding accomplishments in research. Students majoring in the Undergraduate Program in Biology and Medicine (UPBM) with non-clinical research of exceptional quality and a minimum biology GPA of 2.7 may apply for candidacy during February of their senior year. Prospective honors students will have until the first Friday in May to defend.

Candidates must have developed a novel body of work that includes publication-quality data to generate a senior thesis. In addition, candidates must successfully present and defend their senior thesis before a faculty examination committee. The senior thesis must be derived from research projects that are hypothesis-driven and non-clinical. Students cannot use data from patient studies.

Upon successful completion, "Honors in Research" will be noted on transcripts, and a certificate will be awarded at the student's diploma ceremony.

Students only need to register for an independent research (395) course if they intend to defend a senior thesis if necessary to complete experimentation.

Planning the Senior Thesis

Senior thesis planning generally begins before or at the beginning of the senior year. Students should consult both their major/track coordinator and research advisor beforehand. In addition, students may use research obtained through independent research courses, fellowships, internships, and voluntary work to compose their senior thesis.

Data collected from other institutions outside of the University may be used to support a portion of the thesis; however, all facts and figures reported as results in the thesis must be derived by the candidate and must be part of the collaboration with their research mentor or a teaching faculty member at Rochester who is overseeing the writing of the student's thesis.

A defense committee for a senior thesis consists of three Rochester faculty members who work within a relevant field of study and are qualified to examine the candidate's thesis. Typically, the research mentor serves on the committee and must provide at least one to two names of teaching faculty they feel are an appropriate fit and would be willing to serve on the committee. These recommendations should be included in the application for candidacy. All recommendations require the review and approval of the candidate's principal advisor.

Thesis Defense

Once the major advisor has approved the committee names, the candidates will need to invite the faculty to serve and coordinate a mutually agreeable date, time, and location for the defense. Finally, the thesis defenses must be completed and the results communicated to the UPBM office in writing by the end of the first week in May.

Candidates are encouraged to have their committees in place, a date coordinated, and a room reserved by mid-April as scheduling becomes increasingly challenging toward the end of the semester.

Senior thesis papers should be a minimum of 20 pages in length and written as scientific papers using supporting text, diagrams, figures, and adequately noted references. Candidates must provide copies of their thesis to each committee member and the UPBM Administrator at least one week before their thesis defense. Failure to comply may result in the cancellation of the defense.

Students should prepare a 20-minute presentation and be prepared to answer questions during an oral examination. If the committee agrees, the seminar may be open to guests; however, the oral examination will be closed. The candidate will be given an evaluation sheet to the defense committee, which will communicate the results on the day.

How to Apply

Students may apply for candidacy during February and need to complete the online application by March 1 (please note that there is some flexibility with the date). Students enrolled in the Take-5 program at the University may choose to defend in their fifth year.