|Dr. Pysh works with Rob Harbert on an independent research project. Learn more.|
The Biology Department encourages students to engage in some form of independent study. The nature of these projects can vary depending upon a student's interests and the expertise of the faculty. For example, a student could work on a project in a faculty member's research laboratory. If a student has an interest in a topic outside the specific expertise areas of department faculty members, the project might take the form of an extensive review of the scientific literature on that topic. A student may even work on a project at a local health care facility.
Whatever form the study takes, the idea is to give students the opportunity to formulate a problem, to determine the best way to attack the problem, and to work toward bringing the project to some reasonable conclusion. Independent study requires self-sufficiency and self-motivation and demands serious commitment from a student. A student enrolling in independent study is expected to budget ample time for work on the project.
Generally, a student will carry out independent study during her/his 3rd and/or 4th years, although some students do begin work in the research lab in the 1st or 2nd year. The earlier a student approaches a faculty member, the sooner the student may join a lab. An independent study project will culminate in an extensive written summary of the work and usually requires that the student make a public, oral presentation of the work.
Students may obtain academic credit for independent study work in three ways: 1) by enrolling in either Biology 350 (1 unit of course credit) and/or Biology 355 (1/2 unit of course credit); or 2) by completing Biology 460 (Senior Research) and Biology 470 (Senior Thesis) during their 4th year; or by enrolling in the Department Honors sequence (Biology 495, 496, and 497). More specific information on these options can be obtained from any Biology faculty member.