Biology & Society

Faculty committee: Rachel Prentice, chair

The Research Honors Program in Biology & Society is designed to provide independent research opportunities to academically talented undergraduate students in biology & society. Students enrolled in this program are expected, with faculty guidance, to perform independent study and research dealing with issues in biology and society. Students should find the experience intellectually stimulating and rewarding whether or not they intend to pursue a research career.

Application Requirements and Procedures

Biology & Society students are considered for entry into the research honors program at the end of the second semester of the junior year. Application forms for the program are available in the Biology & Society office, 303 Morrill Hall. To qualify for the Biology & Society Research Honors Program, a student must have:

  • An overall Cornell cumulative GPA of at least 3.3
  • Formulated a research topic
  • Identified a project supervisor (with a Cornell academic appointment)
  • Selected a Biology & Society faculty member willing to serve as his or her advisor

Applications will be reviewed by a committee lead by the director of undergraduate studies, who will directly notify students of the outcome. Students will be permitted to register for the research honors program only by permission of the department. 

Honors Degree Requirements

Students who are accepted into the Biology & Society Research Honors Program must complete the following in order to graduate with Distinction in Research:

  • Students must enroll for two semesters in BSOC 4991-4992, Honors Project I and II; ALS 4990, Undergraduate Research in Agriculture and Life Sciences; or HE 4991–4992, Honors Project I and II.
  • Carry out research and write a thesis satisfactory to the student’s special committee. Students must attend the honors seminar during the fall semester.
  • Students may volunteer to publish their thesis at eCommons Cornell University Library, as long as doing so does not interfere with other plans, such as patenting or publishing in another journal. A permission form can be obtained from the honors committee chair.
  • Each year, in recognition of student honors research achievements, CALS prints a booklet of honors theses abstracts (CALS Research Honors Abstracts). Students are responsible for submitting their formatted abstracts in accordance with abstract publication instructions.

Important Dates and Deadlines

Note: If the following dates fall on a weekend, the deadline is the preceding Friday.

  • Last week of second semester of the junior year: Application for honors program submitted to 303 Morrill Hall
  • First Monday after Labor Day: a 1000-word thesis proposal with preliminary bibliography submitted to first reader
  • End of first semester: students meet with first reader to decide whether to move forward
  • March 7: First draft submitted to thesis advisor
  • April 15: Thesis completed in a form satisfactory for evaluation and submitted to the three readers.
  • April 29-May 10: Thesis defense accomplished
  • May 13: One bound copy of completed and defended thesis submitted to the Undergraduate Coordinator in 303 Morrill Hall

More information about the honors program is available in the Biology & Society office, 303 Morrill Hall (255-6047).