Advanced Independent Research (NRSC 4999) and Neuroscience Honors

Advanced Independent Research Application Form

Advanced Independent Research proposals should be submitted via the link above. For Fall 2023, the deadline is Monday March 27th, at 5pm.

NRSC 4999 provides students an opportunity to engage in continued independent research. Many students spend both semesters during the senior year engaged in research. It is therefore suggested that potential honors thesis candidates try to arrange for research sponsorship no later than the end of their junior year. Only Juniors and Seniors can receive honors research credit. No student shall be allowed to register for more than 2 NRSC research credits (NRSC 3999 and NRSC 4999).

Neuroscience majors wishing to graduate with honors must fulfill the following requirements: 1) Students must be Neuroscience Majors. 2) Students must have taken at least one semester of NRSC 3999 in their thesis laboratory. 3) Students are expected to have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above. 4) Students must complete the requirements for Advanced Independent Research (NRSC 4999). 5) Students must submit an application for admission into the Neuroscience Honors Program form signed by their faculty sponsor or have sponsor email Dr. McLean indicating willingness to sponsor your honors project 6) Students must attend the Honors Seminars offered each Spring semester on Mondays 1:45-3:15. 7) Students must present their work at the Neuroscience Student Research Symposium in March) Students must complete a second NRSC 4000-level seminar course. 9) Students should attend one additional neuroscience lecture on campus and upload a brief summary on canvas.

In the second semester of research, students are expected to take a leading role in the design and execution of their research project. Further, the project should become more targeted towards the completion of a novel research goal. Students must submit an application for NRSC 4999 credit no later than one week after the beginning of the semester which includes a one page discussion of the focus of the research. Students may not exceed 5.5 c.u. during any semester in which they are receiving NRSC research credit. Please note that if students are working in the laboratory for pay, they are not eligible to also receive credit for this work.

Students should devote approximately 10-12 hours per week to the research which should include a weekly meeting of at least 1 hour with a preceptor or mentor in the lab or research group to discuss the background and organization of the work, and the interpretation of results.

Students in NRSC 4999 are required to participate in the weekly honors seminar program**, moderate one lecture, and attend one additional neuroscience lecture on campus.  Each student will be expected to present a talk describing their research at least once during the semester.  Selected faculty will also present research talks as part of the honors seminar program.

Students should plan the research paper, and work on it throughout the term. At the end of the semester, the student will produce an honor's thesis. This thesis incorporates the first semester's paper with an additional 10-15 pages (written in 11 point Arial type) which describe the evolution of the project and the conclusions reached to make one cohesive document.

Each paper should include a section on "Contributions" to acknowledge contributions to the research accomplished. It is expected that the research paper has not been submitted and will not be submitted for credit in another course.

Students are expected to follow Penn's Code of Academic Integrity. Students caught plagiarizing may face either academic or disciplinary negative consequences.

Students completing an honors thesis are required to present an oral defense of their research at the Student Research Symposium**, held in March. Students who successfully defend their thesis will graduate with honors. The Director will retain the prerogative of challenging a grade assignment if the submitted paper is inadequate, the student fails to present at the Symposium, and/or for any unexcused absences during the Honors Seminars.


**If you cannot attend the Honors Seminar series, you will receive the NRSC Advanced Independent Study credit, but you will not be eligible to receive honors on your transcript. Students in the Honors Program who do not successfully defend their thesis at the Annual Research Symposium in March will also not be eligible to receive honors on their transcript.


Neuroscience Honors students are encouraged to submit their work for publication in CUREJ, the College's Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal. Penn's College of Arts and Sciences is proud to be among the first to formally support and encourage undergraduate students to participate in meaningful research with faculty mentors. The College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal presents a sampling of that research and celebrates the academic achievements of our undergraduates. An example of Neuroscience/BBB sponsored research published on CUREJ can be found at Interested students should contact the Neuroscience Program Director for approval.