The Neuroscience Program will award Honors to a Neuroscience major based on the candidate's entire undergraduate Neuroscience program.  This is to include all Neuroscience-related courses with their grades, the nature of the curriculum selected, and the successful completion of an Honors research project.  This project may be performed in two semesters of Independent Research (NRSC 550 or 560) on campus, or in a summer plus one semester of Independent Research, under the supervision of a Neuroscience program member.  Research projects of comparable scope performed off-campus under the supervision of a mentor who is not a Neuroscience program member may also be proposed for program Honors, subject to the procedures described below. For all Honors candidates a minimum grade point average of 3.0 is required in those courses that count toward the Neuroscience major, including Chemistry 131, 132, 141, or the equivalent thereof, Physics 131, 132 (or Physics 141 and 142) and transfer courses that receive Neuroscience credit.  The Honors research project should be distinguished by the originality and definition of the research problem, the sophistication of the experimental design and its execution, and the analysis, and presentation of the results.  Generally, Honors reports should be of publishable or near publishable quality.  The Honors Committee will consider all these factors in its recommendation to the faculty, and the faculty should be cognizant of all these factors when voting Honors.

Detailed Procedure:

Students wishing to stand for program Honors typically begin during the junior year to develop plans in consultation with one or more faculty members. Honors are granted to graduating seniors who fulfill these requirements:

  1. A student who intends to apply for Honors in Neuroscience must notify the Neuroscience Program Coordinator of this intention in writing. Deadline:  the close of registration for the semester in which the Honors may be awarded. For Honors projects supervised by a Biology faculty member, the deadline is the close of registration for the semester in which the Honors may be awarded.  For Honors projects supervised by a mentor who is not a Biology faculty member, the deadline is the close of registration for the semester prior to the one in which the Honors may be awarded.

  2. The Program Coordinator will appoint a Committee. In the case of Honors projects supervised by a Neuroscience program member, the committee will consist of three Neuroscience program members, with the student's research advisor as chair.  In the case of Honors projects supervised by a mentor who is not a Neuroscience program member, the committee will consist of that outside mentor, the student's major advisor as chair, and another Neuroscience program member.  The student is responsible for securing a letter of agreement from the outside mentor, indicating willingness to serve in this capacity. Deadline: one week after registration.

  3. The student will present the Committee with a written proposal for work intended. Deadline: two weeks after registration.

  4. The Honors advisor will convene a meeting of the Committee. Off-campus committee members may participate remotely by electronic means. At this meeting, the Committee members will review the student's previous work in Neuroscience and related courses to determine whether the student is qualified to proceed. They will review the proposed project to discuss its merit and feasibility, to identify problems or questions that need to be addressed, and to define their respective roles with respect to the project. Finally, they will set dates for receipt of first and final drafts of the project paper and for oral presentation. These deadlines should take into consideration deadline for the submission of senior awards and prizes. The Committee will decide whether or not the student is to be accepted as a candidate for Honors and will then notify the Program Coordinator. Deadline for meeting and report to Program Coordinator:  three weeks after registration.

  5. The Program Coordinator will notify the student in writing of the Committee's decision, and will advise the student that the final decision on the granting of honors will depend on both the Honors research project and the remainder of the student's course work. Deadline: four weeks after registration.

  6. The student should remain in contact with the Committee and keep them informed of progress. At the end of the project, both an oral and a written report are expected. The final paper, considered by the Committee shortly before making its recommendation to the Neuroscience Faculty, will be judged on the quality of research reported therein, and the quality of the paper itself. After the final paper has been received, the Committee will decide whether to recommend the granting of Honors by the Neuroscience Program Faculty, who will vote prior to the deadline for the submission of senior awards and prizes.  

    a.    Guidelines for the Final Report. Honors research is to be reported in a paper, which follows the format of an appropriate journal. The student is responsible for properly acknowledging all help received. A draft of the paper is to be submitted to each Committee member by the deadline set by the Committee. The final paper should represent the final revision of the Honors report. The student should submit two copies of the final paper (one for the Neuroscience Program and one for the Dickinson College Library), plus others if the Committee requests them. The paper will be judged on these criteria:

    • i.    Quality of research reported therein. Preferably, of course, the results of the research will be conclusive and complete. Negative results of research conducted in a logical, careful, and thorough manner, however, will be equally acceptable.

    • ii. Quality of the paper itself. The writing should be clear and concise. It should be logically arranged, and should reflect a thorough search of the pertinent literature. Tables and figures should be well planned and executed. The format of an appropriate neuroscience journal should have been closely followed.