Do you want the best possible preparation for graduate school or a post-graduate professional program such as medicine or veterinary medicine?
Do you want recognition, beyond simply your GPA, of your abilities and the high level of effort you put into your studies?
If the answer is yes to one or both of these questions, then you may belong in one of the Biology Honors Emphases.
There are honors versions of each of the Cell-Physiology and Ecology-Field Biology emphases. In each, you pursue a more rigorous selection of courses and finish with a thesis based on a year-long research project. These are broadfield majors in which the major and minor are melded into a single program of study. The minor that has been rolled into these broadfield programs is essentially the Physical Sciences minor.
We developed these emphases with two goals in mind:
- To provide the best possible preparation for students interested in research or competitive professional programs.
- To provide a challenging program that will highlight our best students so we can help them reach even their most ambitious goals.
To enter one of these emphases you need a 3.4 GPA and you need to maintain it throughout your degree. This is our requirement but it also enables you to obtain an added benefit. While completing the course requirements of a Biology Honors Emphasis you are also given honors credits for some of your courses (without any additional honors projects or contracts), enabling you to satisfy the requirements of the University Honors Program. However, we still like our honors students to participate in other aspects of the University Honors program administered by Marjorie Rhine.
If you are interested in one of the Honors Emphases, you should see Dr. Mesner as soon as possible to discuss the programs, your eligibility and whether one of these programs would be a good fit for you. It is best to declare an Honors emphasis early in your time at UW-Whitewater so you can get through the course requirements expeditiously.
For more information on the two honors emphases, please carefully read over the checklists available at these links:
Information for Students Currently Enrolled in an Honors Emphasis:
A straightforward timeline for your thesis work (presented in greater detail in the following paragraphs) can be downloaded.
As you proceed through your degree, some of your courses will retroactively receive University Honors credit, leading to University Honors standing when you complete your degree.
In your senior year, you will need to register in the usual way for your thesis, Biol 499. You should enroll for two credits of Biol 499 in your first semester of thesis work then for three credits in your second semester. In addition to working on your research project, you are required in your first thesis semester to produce a proposal (proposal format information is "proposal.xml">here). By the mid-point of the semester, you are required to turn in your proposal to the faculty coordinator responsible for Biol 499; your thesis supervisor should have reviewed at least two drafts of your proposal by this point and you should have made the recommended revisions. Your proposal must then be formally approved by your supervisor, the coordinator and a second faculty member chosen by the Biol 499 coordinator together with your supervisor (in consultation with you, of course). In both semesters of Biol 499 you are expected to attend and participate in the research discussions that also involve Biol 498 students.
By the last day of scheduled classes (at the very latest) of your second thesis semester you are required to submit your thesis to your supervisor and two additional faculty members who will constitute your examination committee; one of the committee members will typically be the thesis coordinator. As with your proposal, your supervisor should have reviewed at least two drafts of your thesis prior to its submission to the committee. It is recommended that you get feedback on early drafts from your committee members also, in which case you should submit drafts to them some weeks before the final draft is due. You will orally defend your thesis in front of your examination committee during the exam period; you and your supervisor are responsible for scheduling this defense. Within three days of your defense, you will be required to submit a draft of your thesis that includes any revisions required by your committee.
This sounds like a lot of rules, but the goal is to help you get smoothly through your thesis. And if your experience is like that of most undergraduate researchers, doing the research will both be a lot of fun and deeply satisfying.
Honors related opportunities and links:
Financial support for your research can be obtained from many places, including the Undergraduate Research Program, Biology Honor Society and Sigma Xi, all of which have supported our students in the past. Be sure not to miss grant deadlines!
Honors students could also conduct thesis research in the summer through UW-Whitewater's BEST-TERP program administered by Dr. Mike Woller.
Recently, Standard Process Whole Food Supplements of Palmyra have expressed an interest in hosting UW-Whitewater research and thesis students. They already host our interns.