Biochemistry 492—Senior Thesis Research


Biochemistry 492 is strongly recommended for Biochemistry students to work in a research laboratory during their senior year. The experience is valuable, especially for those students considering professional or postgraduate education. Admissions committees of both graduate and professional schools look with favor on students with research experience.

Information for Currently Enrolled Seniors
  [Thesis Format]

Be sure to check the deadlines for completion of your thesis for May graduation. Also, see (10) below for departmental honors and awards information and deadlines. Theses must follow the format guidelines. See Jeff Goldberg, 417 RAL, for help.

Information for Interested Juniors
  [BIOC 492 learning agreement]

You may not enroll in BIOC 492 until you have completed the Biochemistry core courses (MCB 354, and BIOC 455). Each February, information is emailed to all junior Biochemistry majors. If you are a Biochem student, you must complete at least 6 hours of BIOC 492 over a minimum of two semesters and present 2 copies of the thesis for deposit in the Biochemistry Department in order to receive a grade in the course.

Prior approval from the Biochemistry Department is required for you to conduct your research in a non-Biochemistry faculty laboratory. BIOC 492 projects must be of an essentially biochemical nature. If you were in a BIOC 290 lab and remaining in same lab, not further paperwork (BIOC 492 learning agreement) is necessary. If BIOC 492 is your first time in a lab for credit or changing to a new lab, please fill out the BIOC 492 learning agreement. If needed, please see Jeff Goldberg, 417 RAL, for help in this process.

Once you are accepted into a laboratory as a second semester junior, you will be able to register for 1–6 hours of BIOC 492 for the following summer (optional), fall, and spring semesters. Your grade in BIOC 492 will be based upon performance in the laboratory and quality of the thesis, which must be submitted to the thesis advisor in late April if you will be a May graduate. Your grade at the end of the summer/fall semester(s) will be deferred ("DFR"), although your thesis advisor will still evaluate your work and provide feedback at that time.

Procedures for Students who wish to Participate in BIOC 492
  1. Eligibility  You are required to have completed MCB 354, and BIOC 455 prior to enrollment in BIOC 492.

  2. Application  If you were in a BIOC 290 lab and remaining in same lab, no further paperwork (BIOC 492 learning agreement) is necessary. If BIOC 492 is your first time in a lab for credit or changing to a new lab, please fill out a BIOC 492 learning agreement.

  3. Research  Identify 2–3 Biochemistry Department faculty members with whom you might like to work. Use the Biochemistry Department Web site listing of Biochemistry Faculty Research Areas, and your personal knowledge and contacts to determine compatibility of interests. You can use the same lab as your BIOC 290 without filling out BIOC 492 form.

  4. Appointments  Contact 2–3 individual faculty members to schedule an interview and discuss a possible project. You can use the same lab as your BIOC 290 without filling out BIOC 492 form.

  5. Lab  Students are responsible for identifying and negotiating a position with a faculty member. Faculty signs the form upon acceptance of the student into his lab." You can use the same lab as your BIOC 290 without filling out BIOC 492 form.

  6. Junior Award—William T. and Lynn Jackson Scholar Award in Biochemistry  This monetary award provides, in part, the summer stipend for a junior Biochemistry major who will begin working on a Biochemistry 492 research project in a Biochemistry faculty laboratory in the summer before their senior year. Nominations require a recommendation letter from the research advisor, describing the 492 project and the student's qualifications, a BIOC 492 Student Information Form, the student's resume and statement, and a copy of unofficial transcript. Nomination deadline is early March.

  7. Register  In consultation with your research advisor, determine how you want to distribute your hours over 2–3 semesters (summer, fall, spring). A minimum of 6 hours of BIOC 492 must count towards Departmental distinction, 7 hours can count towards Advanced Technical electives and you can register for up to 10 hours of the course. Up to 6 hours may be taken in any one semester. Register each semester for BIOC 492 by using your faculty advisor's individual CRN. Contact the Biochemistry Office of Academic Affairs to obtain this CRN.

  8. Schedule  In consultation with your thesis advisor, establish a schedule for your work. It is important that you and your thesis advisor agree to a timetable (and to any changes that may be required).

  9. Grade  You must submit a thesis (a formal paper following a prescribed format) approved by your faculty supervisor, the Biochemistry Department Head, and the College of LAS Honors Dean, in order to receive a grade and credit hours for the course. A deferred grade ("DFR") must be given for all semester grades in Biochemistry 492 until the thesis is presented. That is, when you take Biochem 492 in both the fall and spring semesters, the grade given at the end of the fall semester will be "DFR", not a letter grade. This "DFR" grade will be changed to a letter grade after your thesis has been deposited.

    NOTE: Grades for lab experiences do not count in your major GPA.

  10. Honors  Biochemistry majors who satisfactorily complete Biochemistry 492 may be eligible for departmental honors. Registration in BIOC 492 is required; substitution of MCB 492 or Chem 499 is not permitted. Students must submit a BIOC 492 thesis and be nominated by their Biochemistry 492 thesis advisor.
    1. Departmental Distinction  In order to qualify for graduation with distinction, you must be a Biochemistry major who (1) is registered for at least 6 hours of BIOC 492, (2) completes a senior thesis, and (3) is recommended for distinction by your thesis advisor. To be eligible, you must have an overall grade-point average of at least 3.25 and must register in the senior thesis course, Biochemistry 492. Recommendations for distinction are based on the quality of the thesis work and academic GPA. It is important that the thesis advisor comment on whether the results presented in the thesis are the sole work of the 492 student or are a result of collaborative efforts. This should also be made clear in the thesis.

    2. The decision on which level of distinction (Highest, High or Distinction) lies solely with the Awards Committee. Nomination deadline is early March.

    3. Awards  Two Senior Thesis Awards are available to BIOC 492 senior thesis students who graduate in May. The winners and their achievements are recognized at the MCB Awards Ceremony, held on Reading Day each May. Students must be nominated by their Biochemistry 492 thesis advisor. Nomination deadline is the last day of March.

      William T. and Lynn Jackson Senior Thesis Award  This award was established in 2004 and is given at the end of each spring semester to the senior student who presents the best Biochemistry senior thesis. The award is sponsored by Dr. William Jackson, a Chemistry graduate of the University of Illinois. There is a cash prize.

    NOTE: It is probable that many Seniors will submit a thesis two different times during the semester—first in early March for Awards and Distinction review, and second at the end of the semester with all the other seniors.