Description of 302 Research

This course involves original research at the leading edge of an important and growing area.  The answers to the questions we are asking are unknown at present.  Some students may end up co-authoring papers in scientific journals based on their research and others will go on to give posters or presentations at scientific meetings.  We don't expect that from every project or student, but it is worth knowing that the possibility is there.


  • In general, three hours of credit equals nine hours per week in the lab.  Note that the amount of time, and when you work is flexible in many labs. It is helpful to set some regular hours so that we can set aside that time and your supervisor will be available for help. Students often set aside several 2-3 hour blocks of time per week, and then come in at other times as needed.  Your supervisor will discuss this during the first week of classes.
  • Most labs will have lab meetings, usually more often around the time of the talks.
  • Often you will write brief “weekly” reports that will help assess your progress in meeting the goals, and will help in putting together your final paper and talk.  The submission of weekly reports will not follow a rigid deadline, but instead will be submitted after each set of experiments.  The set of experiments may sometimes take more or less than a week.
  • At the end of the semester, you will give a 12 minute talk (Powerpoint) to the department presenting your research results. You should aim to finish your key experiments at least a week before the talks, then practice your talk several times with the lab group.  Your title must be submitted to the department at least 2 weeks prior to the talk date so that a schedule may be prepared.
  • You will write a paper (usually about 5-6 pages) describing the results of your project. This will be in the format of a scientific paper (abstract, introduction, methods, results/discussion, literature cited).  Your supervisor may suggest a particular journal format to follow and you may be required to write it as if submitting it for publication.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the question - Understand what has been done in the area, what the major ideas guiding our research are, what we are trying to achieve.
  2. Learn techniques applicable to the field- This includes specific techniques that you will use and general lab or field practices.  In addition to learning to perform them, you should learn how they work and why they are useful.
  3.  Learn to interpret data
  4.  Learn to work through problems - In particular, be able to analyze unexpected results or bad data and identify and address the cause if possible.
  5.  Learn to plan research based on previous data - In other words, be able to think about what the next logical step may be.
  6. Learn to present results clearly - in both written and oral formats       

Scoring Guidelines

  • No evidence (0 pts):  There is no evidence of achieving this goal.  Either the necessary work or information was absent, or if present, of such poor quality that it is not clear that any attempt was made towards achieving this goal.
  • Approaches goal (1 pt):  The necessary information is presented in a manner consistent with the goal, but it is unclear, partially incorrect, or implies or reflects misunderstandings.
  • Meets goal (2 pts):  The information is presented with no errors or misunderstanding implied, but does not show strong evidence of analytical ability.  For example, it may be simplistic, literal and descriptive rather than analytical, or lacking in integration, sophistication or rigor.
  • Exceeds goal (3 pts):  Performs the task at the level one would expect of an experienced researcher.  The information is presented without errors or misunderstanding, in a comprehensive and integrated fashion, and demonstrates sophisticated and rigorous analysis.

On-Campus Research


1. Read the project descriptions carefully.

2. Discuss projects that interest you with faculty members. Get specific information about the project, time required, what is expected of you, type of techniques used, and background required. 

3. Select 3 topics supervised by 3 different faculty members, ranking them 1 to 3.

4. Have faculty member sign your form.

5. Hand in completed form to CNS 161.

6. Check the bulletin board outside the Biology Office to see where you have been assigned. Fill in the appropriate section number (each faculty member has a different section) on your registration form.

7. Come to meet the professors at the MANDATORY meeting, each Fall and Spring Term (check seminar schedule for date/location).  In addition to reading these project descriptions, you may want to visit the faculty home pages.

It is possible to get 302 credit at an other institution: