The Honors program in Biology is an exciting opportunity for students to perform research in collaboration with a member of the Kenyon Biology Department faculty. Honors students explore in depth a selected subdiscipline and learn about research techniques, scientific thought processes, the enjoyment of discovery, and the rewards of dedication. You will find that research is a process of self-discovery as much as a way to establish biological facts.
The tangible product of Honors is a thesis, and Honors research is frequently published. Many Honors students build on the experience to pursue careers in science, while others follow different career paths with a better appreciation for the way scientific knowledge is generated. Whatever career direction is taken after majoring in biology, participation in research allows decisions to be more informed.
Prior to enrollment in Senior Honors, students are expected to complete at least one semester of Research in Biology (BIOL 385, 386) and participate in the Summer Science Scholar Program. Two semesters of Research in Biology are recommended. Emphasis is on completion of the research project. Students are also instructed in poster production and produce one or more posters of their honors work for presentation at Kenyon and possibly at outside meetings. There will be oral progress reports. The letter grade is determined by the instructor and project advisor in consultation with the department. Students must have an overall GPA of at least 3.33 and a GPA of 3.33 in biology. Prerequisites: BIOL 385 and/or 386, and permission of the department.
This combined discussion and laboratory course aims to develop abilities for asking sound research questions, designing reasonable scientific approaches to answer such questions, and performing experiments to test both the design and the question. We consider how to assess difficulties and limitations in experimental strategies due to design, equipment, organism selected, and so on. The course provides a detailed understanding of selected modern research equipment. Students select their own research problems in consultation with one or more biology faculty members. This course is designed both for those who plan to undertake honors research in their senior year and for those who are not doing honors but want some practical research experience. A student can begin the course in either semester. If a year of credit is earned, it may be applied toward one laboratory requirement for the major in biology. Prerequisites: BIOL 112 (12), 113 (13), 114 (14), 109-110 (9-10), or 109-111(9-11), and permission of instructor.
This course provides the student with the opportunity to pursue an independent investigation of a topic of special interest not covered, or not covered in depth, in the current curriculum. The investigation, designed in consultation with the chosen faculty mentor, may be designed to earn 1/4 or 1/2 unit of credit in a semester and may be continued in BIOL 394/494 in the second semester. BIOL 393/493 and 394/494 are ordinarily library-oriented investigations. (For laboratory-oriented independent research, see BIOL 385 and 386.) Normally students receive credit for no more than two semesters of independent study; independent study does not count toward diversification requirements for the biology major.
The second semester of the introductory lab sequence offers students an early opportunity to experience research first hand and to apply the research understanding they have gained in the first semester. Students, most often in pairs, develop a research project proposal after doing library research and consulting with faculty in the Biology Department. After receiving advice and getting approval, they spend 5-6 weeks performing their experiments from making all the solutions, caring for their organisms, and fine tuning their experimental design. At the end of the course they present their results to the class as an oral presentation, and each student writes their own scientific paper of their findings. Many students also produce posters of their work which line the walls of Higley Hall outside of the intro labs on the first floor.