• (740) 245-7484

Senior Research

Fall 2018

August 20 - December 6, 2018

Senior Research 
BIO 47003
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, T 3:00 – 4:00, R 1:30-2:20 and by apt.

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 
  • 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.

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:

  • Design and carry out a lab or field-based research project.
  • Analyze data from a research project using spreadsheets and appropriate statistics.
  • Present research findings in oral and written form.


General Policies:

Students are expected to complete a minimum of 45 hours of work on the project – in other words 3 hours per week for 15 weeks.
Students must sign the liability waiver for research course.
If the project is not completed by the end of the semester, students will take an incomplete that must be completed during the following semester. Paperwork will be filed in accordance with standard University incomplete policy.


Grade Calculation:

Assessment Exam


60 points

Literature Review


40 Points

Lab Notebook


80 points



100 Points



80 Points



40 points



400 Points

A = 96 -100, A- = 90 - 95, B+ = 87 - 89, B = 83 - 86, B- = 80 - 82
C+ = 77 - 79, C = 73 - 76, C- = 70 - 72, D+ = 67 - 69, D = 63 - 66, D- = 60 - 62, F = 0 – 59
Assessment Exam: All students must take the biology assessment exam to demonstrate knowledge of the language of biology and nature of science. A list of terms that you should know are attached to the syllabus and titled language of biology.
Literature Review: Students must review the primary and secondary literature for information relative to their projects. There must be a minimum of 20 articles for a lab/field project. At least 5 articles must be primary literature (from a peer-reviewed journal). Each article review should include a full citation as well at least one paragraph summarizing the article. You might want to note things that are particularly important to your project. The literature review is due by midterm – October 11, 2018.
Lab Notebook: A student doing lab or field research 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. The notebook will be used to judge the amount of effort put into the project in terms of time spent as well as the quality of the research performance in terms of techniques, experimental design, etc. Bring to all meetings with your advisor.
Paper: All students must produce a paper in scientific format with appropriate citations and references. Papers for hands-on research projects must include: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion and reference sections. Literature review papers may have different sections that are approved by the faculty advisor. 
Poster: All students must produce a poster illustration of their research. This has the same sections as the paper but is less detailed.
Presentation: All students will give a presentation, PowerPoint format, during finals week. This will consist of the same sections as above.



Formal Paper, Poster, and PowerPoint:

These are a final summary of your work as it might appear in a peer-reviewed publication and at a conference. It should include ALL of the following sections.

  • 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 and poster..
  • 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 and should be at the end of the paper. They are not on the poster or PowerPoint.

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 no later than the last week of classes. Earlier is desirable. It will be read and revisions suggested. The final paper and poster should be submitted by 4:00 PM Thursday of finals week. The presentation will be scheduled during finals week. 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 November 2, 2018.
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.
MENTAL HEALTH STATEMENT: As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. Services are available to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing.  Contact the office of Accessibility (740-245-7439) to learn more about the confidential mental health services available to you.
COPYRIGHT: Materials used in association with this course may be copyright protected. These items are provided for educational purposes and are intended for the use by only those students officially enrolled in the course. Individuals may not copy, duplicate, download, or distribute any of these items outside this course without first considering United States copyright law (Title 17, US Code) and Rio Grande’s copyright-related policies.


Last Updated:  August 19, 2018