• (740) 245-7484

Directed Study Senior Research

Fall 2016
August 22 - December 8, 2016
Senior Research Directed Study
BIO or NSC 49903
School of Science

Professor:  Dr. Linda Sigismondi
Phone:      740 245-7484
Email:       lindas@rio.edu
Office:      Kidd Hall 100B
Office Hours: MW 1:00-2:20, TR 1:30 - 2:20, others by appointment

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Each student will be involved in an inquiry-based research project that involves lab or field data collection, statistical analysis, interpretation of results and presentation of findings in oral and/or written format.

PREREQUISITES: Senior standing with a major/minor in Biology, Chemistry, or Environmental Science



  • Lab notebook for recording research activities and raw data 
  • Instructor approved safety glasses
  • Internet access
  • Access to computer with word processing (MS Word, Pages), Spreadsheet (Excel, Numbers) and presentation (PowerPoint, Keynote) software

PROGRAM OUTCOMES: The following outcomes have been adopted for the biology or environmental science degree program for which this course is required:


  • Explain, using appropriate terminology, the basic concepts of cell/molecular biology, ecology, evolution, and genetics.
  • Explain the fundamentals of scientific inquiry, interpret the results of scientific investigations, and draw reasonable conclusions from data.
  • Complete critical reading of original and secondary source material.
  • Communicate, in oral and written form, biological technical information.
  • Relate models, theories and concepts to real world phenomena.
  • Use standard biological equipment appropriately and safely, and explain the limitations of the equipment.

Environmental Science

  • Explain, using appropriate terminology, the major concepts in environmental science including major environmental problems, their causes, consequences, and potential solutions.
  • Explain the fundamentals of scientific inquiry, interpret the results of scientific investigations, and draw reasonable conclusions from data.
  • Communicate scientific information in oral and written form.
  • Relate models, theories and concepts to real world phenomena.
  • Explain, using appropriate terminology, the major environmental laws in the United States.
  • Function successfully in an environmental science internship. 

COURSE OUTCOMES:  The following outcomes have been adopted for this course.  All outcomes listed below have direct relevance to course material.  Upon completion of this course students are expected to:

  • Be able to design and carry out a lab or field-based research project.
  • Be able to analyze data from a research project using spreadsheets and appropriate statistics.
  • Be able to present research findings in oral and written form.


Grade Calculation:

Lab Notebook

50 points

Progress Reports

50 points

Research Design

50 points

Research Performance

50 points

Formal Paper or Poster

 200 points

Presentation (Extra)

25 - 50 points


 400 points    

A = 93-100%, A- = 90-92, B+ = 88-89, B = 83-87%, B- = 80-82, C+ = 78-79,
C = 73-77%, C- = 70-72, D+ = 68-69, D = 63-67%, D- =60-62, F =below 60%

Lab Notebook: The student is expected to record his/her activity in a bound lab notebook. This should include dates and times worked on project and what was accomplished, primary literature articles found with brief summaries, hypotheses being tested, raw data collection, calculations and other information as needed.

Progress Reports:  The student is expected to meet with the instructor a minimum of 5 times during the semester at 2-3 week intervals. Weekly meetings are advised. Each progress visit is awarded a maximum of 10 points up to 50 points total. During the meetings, the student should discuss his or her progress with the instructor and plans for future steps. Students should bring their lab notebooks showing a log of their activity, data collection and data analysis. Students should also bring relevant journal articles or other resources for discussion.  The student may also bring sections of his or her final paper for feedback. 

Research Design: The final points awarded will be determined based on the accuracy and complexity of the project design. Factors to be considered will include the number of treatments, replication, and how well experiment fits hypotheses being tested. It is likely that the research design will change as the work progresses based on early results.

Research Performance:  The student will be graded on his or her performance of the research.  Factors that will be considered are accuracy and timeliness of the work as well as the complexity of the project.



Very Good




Research Design






50   48  46

Very Good


44  42  40 

AverageFew problems


38  36

Several Problems


34  30  26

Major Problems


20  10  0

Research Performance



Well Executed, accurate, timely

50   48  46

Well Executed, 1-2 minor problems

44  42  40 

Average Technique, several minor problems

38  36

Many problems with technique.

34  30  26

Sloppy, many problems

20  10  0



Formal Paper: The paper is a final summary of your work as it might appear in a peer-reviewed publication.  The paper should include the sections below.

  • Abstract - one - two paragraphs that concisely state the purpose, hypothesis, overview of method, major results, and conclusion.  Write this after writing the rest of the paper but put in the beginning of the paper.
  • Introduction - This section should review the literature for background information on the subject and end with a statement of purpose (or question) and hypothesis for research.
  • Methods - This section describes step-by-step what you did.   It also includes equipment and materials used (in paragraph form, not list) including brand names and model numbers where needed.  Photos of equipment are desirable.  The procedure includes how you gathered the data and what statistics you did on the data (but not the data itself or the statistical results).
  • Results – Begins with one or more paragraphs summarizing the data and referring to appropriate summary graphs and tables.  Data analysis should include basics statistics such as means (or medians) and standard deviations.  Results should also include comparison statistics such as Chi-Square, Students t-test, or ANOVA as appropriate for the data.  All tables and figures should be numbered and have appropriate descriptions.  For example:

Figure 1: Line graph comparing mean weights of mayflies grown at temperatures between 5 – 25 C.

This section should include only summary data.  Complete data sets and statistical analyses should be placed in appendices.

  • Discussion - Restate purpose and hypothesis, indicate your conclusions based on your results (including whether you accept or reject hypothesis) and discuss implications and ideas for future research.
  • References - list all works cited in paper and only works cited in paper in appropriate scientific format.

Appendices: These should include the raw data and statistical calculations. If doing a paper, they should be at the end. If doing a poster, these should be turned in as a spreadsheet.

Citations: Any information taken from outside sources (journals, webpages, even personal communications) must be cited or it is considered plagiarism.  Even if you paraphrase, you still use a citation.  If you use a direct quote, and do so sparingly, the sentence(s) must be indented and in quotation marks as well as cited.  Examples of citations are:

Smith (1992) defines the LC50 as …..   OR
An LC50 for aquatic invertebrates is the….(Smith 1992).

Due Dates:  A draft of the poster/paper should be submitted during the last week of classes. It will be read and revisions suggested. The complete paper or poster should be submitted by 4:00 PM Thursday of finals week.

Presentation:  A poster presentation or seminar presentation at a departmental seminar or regional conference is strongly encouraged and will positively contribute to the grade in the course.

Grading Rubric:




Plagiarism: Plagiarism refers to copying and passing off another’s work as one’s own. It includes copying information from published sources such as books, journals and webpages without appropriate citations. It also includes copying the work of another student.  All students in the class are expected to do their own work. Two (or more) students should not submit the same paper even if they worked together. Plagiarized work will receive a zero.

Late PapersStudents are expected to turn in all papers on time.  Papers not turned in by the specified date and time will lose 10% per day. 


ADA POLICY: If a student wishes to be identified as having a physical, mental, or learning disability, that may or may not require reasonable accommodation(s), he/she must register with the Office of Accessibility.  These registered students should identify themselves to their instructors and provide a written statement from the Accessibility Office that indicates the appropriate accommodations.  The process of a student self-proclaiming the need for accommodation should occur as early in the semester as possible.  The Office of Accessibility is located in Rhodes Hall, Room 116, University of Rio Grande, (740) 245-7339.

FERPA:  The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College are committed to fully respecting and protecting the rights of students under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  These rights generally include the right to inspect, review and seek amendment to the student's education records and the right to provide written consent before personally identifiable information from education records is disclosed.  Under FERPA, students have the right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education concerning alleged failures to comply with FERPA.  Please see the Student Records Confidentiality/ Rights Under FERPA section of the Student Handbook for details and more information.

ACADEMIC DISHONESTY:  Standard university policies, as described in the Student Handbook, apply.

WITHDRAWAL: The last day to drop a class is October 28, 2016.

INCOMPLETES: Standard university policy - Incompletes will only be granted for extenuating circumstances, such as illness, accident, etc. which will prevent the student from completing the course. An incomplete grade cannot be given to avoid a failing grade in the course. Appropriate documentation (i.e. medical) must accompany the Incomplete Grade Request.Students must have completed at least 75% of the course with a passing grade when requesting an incomplete. The student must request an incomplete from the instructor. It is the responsibility of the student to make up incomplete work. The instructor must complete the Incomplete Grade Request form and submit to the Registrar’s Office. Requests must include a valid reason why the work cannot be completed, a list of assignments to complete, a schedule for when the work will be completed, and the grade to be assigned if the work is not completed. Assignments should be completed as soon as possible, preferably within a few weeks.


Last Updated:  August 9, 2016