BCMB Research Experience

All biochemistry & molecular biology majors must include a research experience as part of their undergraduate program and will be required to present the results of their research experience at on-campus symposia or at regional or national conferences.

This requirement may be satisfied by the successful completion of any one of the following:

  • An independent research project in biochemistry & molecular biology
  • A student-faculty collaborative research project in biochemistry & molecular biology
  • An off-campus internship for credit in biochemistry & molecular biology
  • A research experience not covered by the above but deemed equivalent by the contributing faculty

Ready to submit a proposal? Proposals should be submitted to the student's faculty advisor, who will determine whether the completed experience satisfies the research experience requirement. Return the signed Research Requirement Form to the department coordinator.

On-Campus Symposia for Students

Dickinson hosts two major symposia in which students are encouraged to participate:

  • Biology Student Research Symposium (November)
  • Annual Science Student Research Symposium (April)

Honors in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

(To view the departmental honors archives, click here.)

The BCMB faculty will award honors to a major based on the entirety of the candidate’s BCMB program. This includes grades in all courses required for the major (and related additional courses in biology and/or chemistry) and successful completion of a two-semester (or summer and one semester) research experience. A minimum GPA of 3.20 is required in courses counting toward the BCMB major, including transfer (and study abroad) courses that receive BCMB 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 (written and oral) 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 program faculty, and the program faculty should be cognizant of all these factors when voting on honors.


By the date of roll call during the fall semester of senior year, a student should indicate their intent to pursue honors to both their research mentor and the BCMB chair. The BCMB chair will form a committee of the research mentor (who will serve as chair of the Honors Committee), a BCMB faculty member from biology and a BCMB faculty member from chemistry.

By noon on Monday of the penultimate week of fall semester classes (typically, the Monday immediately following Thanksgiving), the student will submit a research proposal to the committee. This proposal should include a first draft of the introduction section of the final paper (to help establish an understanding of relevant background of the project), outline the main goals of the student’s work in the laboratory, describe what research results have been completed to date and indicate a plan for experiments to be conducted during the spring semester.

Prior to the end of fall semester finals, the committee chair will convene a committee meeting. The committee will review the student’s BCMB coursework to verify the candidate is eligible to proceed and will review the student’s research proposal to discuss its merit and feasibility and to identify problems or questions that need to be addressed. The committee will vote as to whether the student is to be accepted as an honors candidate and then will notify the BCMB program chair.

By the end of fall term, the program chair will notify the student in writing of the committee’s decision. If the student has been accepted as a candidate for honors, the program chair will advise the student that the final decision on the granting of honors will depend on the honors research project, the remainder of the student’s coursework and the quality of the final paper and oral presentation.

By the end of the first week of spring term, dates will be set for receipt of first draft and a final draft of the project paper for oral presentation and defense; the program chair will notify the student of these dates via email, with a copy of the email to be sent to the Honors Committee. To provide time for the committee to read the paper, the student to give the oral presentation, the committee to meet with the student and the student to make final corrections to the paper prior to the deadline for submission of senior awards and prizes, the paper must be submitted to the committee by 5 p.m. on the Friday of the 12th week of spring term classes. The oral presentation will be scheduled during the penultimate (13th) week of the spring term. The candidate will meet with the Honors Committee no later than the last day of spring term classes. A final version of the paper must be submitted by 5 p.m. Wednesday during exam week. The Honors Committee must make their recommendation for or against honors to the program faculty by 9 a.m. on the Monday prior to Commencement.

During the course of the spring term, the faculty research advisor should alert the Honors Committee to any problems that arise during the course of the work.

By the deadline noted above (section 5), the student’s honors paper should be written in a manner that conforms to the style of an appropriate journal. The student should prepare an oral presentation lasting for approximately 25 minutes (during the presentation, approximately 5 minutes will be allowed for questions from the audience). All BCMB faculty are required to attend the oral presentation; students will be invited to attend.

The student and Honors Committee can meet immediately following the oral presentation or by the end of spring term classes (as noted above in section 5); here, the student will defend the project. Based on the quality of the oral presentation, written paper and defense, the committee will make a decision on whether to recommend honors.

The committee will submit its recommendation to the BCMB program chair, who will convene the BCMB faculty for a final vote prior to deadline for submission of senior awards and prizes to the registrar (as described in section 5).