The intent of the RISE is to give students an opportunity to conduct a research project. Its objective is to consolidate the understanding of how experimental evidence is obtained and used in ways that further our understanding of the natural world. This effort is most obviously a success when students achieve an insight that goes beyond a mere cataloging of facts to gain an understanding of how scientific evidence is used to explain biological processes.


  • Regular meetings. For the entire year, you will meet regularly with your mentor. The faculty are particularly interested in the intensity and consistency of your commitment to the project. If you should miss a meeting, it is your responsibility to make an appointment with your mentor promptly.
  • Time commitment during both terms of the senior year. You are expected to work with equal intensity during both semesters. Plan on spending at least 12 hours on RISE per week. Be warned that the time goes by very fast, particularly during the spring semester; so, you shouldn’t leave everything to the last minute!
  • Fall presentation. Towards the end of the fall semester, all students will present a 10-15 minute oral presentation to a panel of faculty and students summarizing the research question (hypothesis), materials and methods, results obtained thus far, interpretations, and directions for the remainder of the work. Students should be prepared to answer questions from the panel about their work.
  • Spring poster and written work. Students will present their research during a symposium (tentatively planned for a Saturday morning in April) and a final written report of ~25 pages on their project.

Standards for Evaluation

  • Fall and spring semester grades. The grade for fall semester is based on the oral presentation and level of commitment to the project (how many hours per week you worked, over what interval you worked, and an assessment of your level of dedication). The grade for the spring semester is based on the final document, the poster and your level of commitment to the project. If there is an outside research mentor, he or she will be asked to provide the departmental mentor with this assessment.
  • Standards. A well-done project will earn a B+. The grades of A- and A are reserved for exceptional efforts and very high quality written material. Students will receive a grade below a B+ if the writing or the commitment to the project is below average.
  • Awards and Honors. Students who exhibited the most intense commitment in laboratory theses will be nominated for membership in the science honor society, Sigma Xi. Students with exceptional research may also present in the Sigma Xi Research Symposium to be eligible for the Biology Department’s Chapman Medal.