Advanced Independent Research (BIBB 499) and BBB Honors

Advanced Independent Research Application Form

Research Projects Spring 2021 -  

This semester we are adjusting our expectations for our students who wish to conduct an independent research project. The three-fold goals of the 399 and 499 research experiences are that students: 1) participate in cutting edge research; 2) hone their critical thinking skills related to hypothesis testing and experimental design, in part by reading scientific literature; and 3) develop their written and oral science communication skills. 


The University‚Äôs Research Resumption Strategy states that undergraduates are not permitted into a research lab until Phase III.  Accordingly, we will shift the emphasis from in-person data collection to the development of projects that can be conducted and completed remotely. Students should develop their projects in consultation with their research sponsor. We will now accept projects including the analysis of existing data; or a literature review combined with the creation of 2-3 original graphs or figures. Please set up regular virtual meetings with your mentor for continued guidance. 


Advanced Independent Research proposals should be submitted via the link above. For Spring 2021, the deadline is Monday, December 7th, at 5pm. Students wishing to graduate with honors must also submit an Honors Program application form signed by their faculty sponsor by Monday, December 7th, at 5pm. This form is available by emailing Dr. McLean.

BIBB 499 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 BBB research credits (BIBB 399 and 499).

BBB students wishing to graduate with honors must fulfill the following requirements: 1) Students must be BBB Majors. 2) Students must have taken at least one semester of BIBB 399 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 (BIBB 499). 5) Students must submit an application for admission into the BBB 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 2-3:30. 7) Students must present their work at the BBB Student Research Symposium in April. 8) Students must complete a second BIBB 400-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 BIBB 499 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 BIBB 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 BIBB 499 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 April of each year. 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 BiBB 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 April will also not be eligible to receive honors on their transcript.


BBB 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 BBB sponsored research published on CUREJ can be found at Interested students should contact the BBB Director for approval.