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 non-clinical research of exceptional quality and a minimum biology GPA of 2.7 may apply for candidacy during their senior year.

Interested students apply for candidacy in Febrary and will have until the first Friday in May to defend.

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.

The writing of the senior thesis must be derived from the data of research projects that are hypothesis-driven and non-clinical. Therefore, students should not use data generated from patient studies.

 Please note that the overall thesis scientific content and defense committee members are subject to the approval of the student's faculty track coordinator for their biology major and the UPBM Faculty Committee.

 Biology majors interested in writing a thesis must consult with their track coordinators during the preliminary stages of planning to ensure projects and defense committees meet program expectations.

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

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

Students may apply for candidacy during the month of Feburary. The online Application for Candidancy will be active Febuary 1st.   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.