Undergraduate Program

Honors in Research

Receiving honors in research recognizes a student for outstanding accomplishments in research. Students majoring in the Undergraduate Program in Biology and Medicine (UPBM) with research of exceptional quality and a minimum biology GPA of 2.7 may apply for candidacy during their senior year.

Candidates must have developed a novel body of work that includes publication-quality data from which to generate a senior thesis. In addition, candidates must successfully present and defend their senior thesis before a faculty examination committee.

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

Please note that students do not need to register an independent research (395) course if they intend to defend a senior thesis unless 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. 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 will need to provide at least one to two names of teaching faculty whom they feel are an appropriate fit and would be willing to serve on the committee. These recommendations should be included on the application for candidacy. All recommendations require the review and approval of the candidate’s major advisor.

How to Apply

All interested students must submit an application for candidacy to the UPBM office (Hutchison 488) with the endorsing signatures of both their research mentor and major/track coordinator by the first Monday in March of their senior year. Students enrolled in the Take-5 program at the University may choose to defend in their fifth year.

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. 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 difficult toward the end of the semester.

Senior thesis papers should be a minimum of 20 pages in length and written as a scientific paper using supporting text, diagrams, figures, and properly noted references. Candidates must provide copies of their thesis to each of their committee members and the UPBM Administrator at least one week in advance of 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 give to the defense committee, who will communicate the results on the day of.