Please complete and submit this Declaration of Intent form. This form should completed and submitted as soon as possible – normally in the Fall or Winter term preceding the year of your Honours Research Thesis (capstone project). This form should be completed by both biology and biochemistry students. Instructions are found on the form. Completion of this form will assist us in in planning and organizing the large cohort of students completing thesis projects but THIS IS NOT AN APPLICATION FORM – you are still required to find your own thesis supervisor and submit proper documents and registration materials. The information presented below will explain further the process of finding a thesis supervisor and completing your thesis research.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a BIOL 4908 and how does it differ from a regular course?

BIOL 4908 Honours Research Thesis differs from other courses in several respects. It is a full credit course and therefore spans two academic terms (fall and winter or summer I and summer II). Further, the purpose of a thesis is to make a contribution to the existing body of knowledge in the field of biology. Consequently, it is quite different from an essay that you would write for a course that summarizes published research. There are no required lectures, seminars, textbooks, tests, etc. Instead, the course consists of an ongoing series of meetings between you and your honours thesis supervisor, during which you talk about each phase of your project. For BIOL 4908 this would include selecting a topic, designing your study, carrying out experiments, collecting your data, analysing your data, and writing up your results, all while spending several hours a week in the lab or field. You will produce a written thesis. You will also produce a poster that you will present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

What is BIOL 4907 and how does it differ from BIOL 4908?

BIOL 4907 Honours Essay and Research Proposal is similar to BIOL 4908 in that it is a full credit course, there are no required lectures, seminars, textbooks, tests. Further, the course consists of an ongoing series of meetings between you and your honours thesis supervisor, during which you talk about each phase of your project. For BIOL 4907 this includes selecting a topic, designing your essay, doing an extensive literature review, discussing key papers with your professor, discussing the essay’s outline with your professor, writing a comprehensive essay on your topic, and writing a research proposal discussing what question(s) should be researched next, why they are of theoretical importance, and what methodology you would follow to address the question(s). Similar to BIOL 4908 you would produce a comprehensive written document. You also produce a poster that you present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

What is BIOL4905?

BIOL 4905 Honours Workshop is an alternative to BIOL4908 and BIOL4907.  It is a more appropriate course for students who are not considering applying to graduate school but who wish to develop skills that will be useful in the workplace. Most students who do not go on to graduate school will never have the need to produce a long written document such as a thesis or honours research essay.  They will, however, need to be able to communicate effectively in the workplace.  They will also need to develop critical thinking skills to distinguish good science from bad, to see through the flaws in a sloppy argument and to make sound decisions as a member of the community when faced with an environmental or health controversy. In this course, students will complete a variety of assignments and activities, including a grant proposal and an oral presentation, centred a variety of controversial topics in biology.

How do I find an advisor?

Students must show a good deal of initiative and persistence in finding an advisor. Your prospects for getting an advisor will be enhanced if you follow the tips listed below:

  • Do your homework. Most advisors prefer honours students to work on topics that are closely related to their own research interests. It is therefore best to be familiar with faculty advisors’ research area before you approach them. A careful review of these websites will give you an overview of the kinds of research being conducted
  • Be flexible.Your interests are important but you will dramatically increase your chances of landing a supervisor if you are willing to be flexible in terms of your thesis project. This is the best way to end up with a project that is tailored to both your interests and the professor’s interests.
  • Write an informative email. Be sensitive to the fact that professors may be busy when you first approach them and include a subject heading in your email (e.g., Conduct an honours thesis research in your laboratory?). In your email you should briefly describe yourself, your research interests, discuss relevant courses you have taken or will take that will provide you with a strong background in this research area, a brief overview of your grades to date, and ask whether they would be willing to meet to discuss honours thesis possibilities. Be sure to state the terms and year that you plan to conduct your thesis (i.e., summer 2016 or fall/winter 2016/17).
  • Go prepared. When meeting with potential advisors, make sure to bring a copy of your academic audit and come prepared with questions about their research program and how they mentor honours thesis students.

Can I be advised from someone who is not in biology?

Yes and no. Adjunct faculty members can also honours thesis advisors, so be sure to check out the website of our adjunct professors. Please note that if you find an adjunct faculty member who is willing to advise you, you still must have a regular biology faculty member to co-advise you.

What do I do once I find a Thesis Supervisor?

As soon as you have confirmed a faculty supervisor, you should fill out a student-supervisor Letter of Intent form.  The completed form should be submitted to Ruth Hill-Lapensee in the Biology/Biochemistry office (Rm 208 Nesbitt).

Further Questions

Please contact Ruth Hill-Lapensee, Biology Undergraduate Administrator

Office: 209B NB
(613) 520 – 2600 Ext. 8843