Biology Capstone Options

Both options below fulfill the capstone requirement for your degree in Biological Science. Both will provide you with experience in the scientific research process. Both options are be intense and demanding in their own ways. The Biological Science capstone engages BIOSC majors in critical thinking and analytical skills. The major differences between Options 1 and 2 is that Option 2:

  • has a minimum QPA requirement set by the BIOSC faculty members
  • requires an informal one-page description of the anticipated project
  • subsequent acceptance of that description by the potential faculty advisor prior to admission.

For both options, the students’ overall QPA will be checked by the faculty members.

Prerequisites for both options

  • Biology 1 & 2
  • Genetics
  • Scientific Writing
  • at least one upper level laboratory course. 

Scientific Writing must be taken the semester prior to the capstone.  If you take another writing option, you must fulfill all training modules related to safety and ethical research. You must also complete a written proposal for the research. This may require individual transportation to the Oakland campus.

Option 1: The Capstone Laboratory Course

(BIOSC 1962, Senior Research, assigned days, times, and locations) – NO overall QPA limitation.

This option is a one-term, six-hour-per-week course. It is conducted in a laboratory course format at a specified day and time and in a specific location. One or more capstone lab sections will be available in the Fall and Spring Terms. Each section will have an enrollment of approximately 12 students per section. Each section will be supervised by a full-time faculty member. Students will work on projects that fall within the research interests of the supervising faculty member. This one-term laboratory-type course will contain:

  • literature searching and review
  • solution preparation
  • laboratory safety
  • experimental activity of Senior Research 2 (including the final research report and presentation)

under the supervision of the faculty member. This option is open to all BIOSC majors. It is a good option for students who:

  • are not interested in pursuing graduate degrees in BIOSC or other science fields
  • are not interested in doing research beyond this course
  • do not want the intensity of individually-advised research
  • are not sufficiently prepared for laboratory work
  • plan to pursue such careers as physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant, or the equivalent.

This is the only option for students with an overall QPA below 3.00.

Option 2: Individual Advising of Research Project

(BIOSC 1963, Senior Research, TBA (i.e., open meeting) – MINIMUM QPA of 3.00 and faculty advisor approval REQUIRED for this option. This option combines the former

  • Senior Research 1 (BIOSC 1961)
  • Senior Research 2 (BIOSC 1962)

capstone courses into one two-term sequence. This option is conducted on an open-meeting basis. The student submits an informal one-page description of the desired research project to his/her potential faculty advisor. The faculty advisor reviews the proposal and notifies the student of the decision to accept or reject the project.

The decision also takes into account the 3.00 minimum overall QPA requirement. This will be checked by the potential faculty advisor. Upon acceptance for undergraduate research, the student is then trained by the advisor in such research basics as:

  • literature searching and review
  • solution preparation
  • laboratory safety
  • preparation and presentation of the research proposal

followed by the experimental phases of the project and, ultimately, the final research report and presentation. This takes place over the Spring and Fall Terms. All of this will be under the direction of the research advisor, on a one-on-one basis. This is perhaps the closest thing to graduate school in an undergraduate environment. This option is intense and demanding, similar to a graduate-level research program. This option is open only to BIOSC majors with a minimum QPA of 3.00. It is recommended for BIOSC majors planning:

  • to go on to graduate school to pursue an MS or PhD in biology or related fields.
  • to pursue careers in research after undergraduate school.
  • to pursue an MD, DMD, or equivalent degree in health-related fields.

Application for Option 2

Faculty Research Interests

J. Boothe

General Areas of Research:

  • Chemical Genetics
  • Chemical Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemical Synthesis

Potential Projects Include (but are not limited to):

  • Genetic knockouts
  • Media growth condition changes
  • Phenotypic analysis of various strains of microalgae
  • Synthesis of organic small molecule libraries
  • Chemical genetics screenings
  • Biochemical assays of microalgae

Dr. Boothe is open to ideas for research involving a host of microalgae strains and assays of various biologically relevant molecules, including (but not limited to): lipids for biodiesel production, carbohydrates and proteins for nutritional supplements.

O. Long

General Area of Research:

    Molecular Genetics
    Model Organisms

Potential Projects:

      With C. elegans:

    Phenotypical analysis of mutant worms (looking at different diseases, and mutations
    RNAi (knocking down specific genes) and determining role of gene in different diseases.
    Utlilized ALS model in C. elegans to determine if specific genes played a vital role in the development of ALS
    Utilized an Alzheimer's model in C. elegans to look at different environmental factors had on the development of Alzheimers
    Developing mutant C. elegans
    Looking at effect different pathogens had on C. elegans
    Looking at the impact of C. elegans on bio-film production

     Other ideas:

    Real-time PCR
    Protein Isolation
    DNA and mRNA Isolation and Manipulation
    Autophagy, UPR and ERAD pathways

Dr. Long is open to ideas for research involving C. elegans (or other model organisms) and/or determining molecular components of human diseases.  She has worked with a few human diseases (Alpha-1 Antitrypsin, Alzheimers and ALS) but she is open to exploring other topics.

T. Savisky

General Area of Research: Environmental Science: stream ecology, landscape ecology, forest ecology.

Specific examples that students have done in the past:

    Effect of disturbances on stream macroinvertebrates
    Landuse and stream water quality
    Road salt effects on roadside vegetation
    Heavy metals in ecosystems

Possible projects for students who participate in Study Abroad to Costa Rica:

    Ecology of tropical rainforest
    Human interactions with rainforest
    Service-learning projects

Possible projects for students who participate in Ecology of the Rocky Mountains field course:

    Alpine plant ecology
    Ecology of spruce-fir forests