Research Opportunities

OVERVIEW

Research can be an integral part of the City College of New York (CCNY) experience. Many opportunities are offered for students to pursue independent research in the CCNY Biology Department. Interested students should contact a potential CCNY Biology faculty mentor to express your informed interest. Here are Biology Department faculty profiles that include current research activities. You should also chat with faculty and the CCAPP advising office about financial support sources for students engaged in laboratory research. 

The CCNY Biology Department Honors & Independent Study (CHIS) courses allow students to receive biology elective course credit for conducting independent research and have the opportunity to have their research published. Honors students can also receive a biology honors distinction on their transcript. The principal differences between the Honors and Independent Study are that: (a) the GPA requirements for Honors are higher than those for Independent Study; (b) laboratory, field, or library research may be conducted for Independent Study, but Honors requires laboratory or field research; and (c) three semesters of 3 credits each are required for Honors, whereas Independent Study can be taken for 1-3 credits for each of one to three semesters. Continue reading below to learn how to apply for Biology Honors or Independent Study enrollment.

 


SPRING 2022 CHIS ENROLLMENT APPLICATION

Here is the Progress Report Form. Continued enrollment is contingent upon submission of a Progress Report and graded paper. Each semester, students must submit a research paper and Progress Report form to their mentor, who will assign a grade and complete the form. No later than the last day of finals, students must have their graded paper and a completed Progress Report Form electronically submitted to CHIS (check email for directions). Student forms and papers may also be submitted to Christine Klusko Stefano in the Biology office (Marshak 526).

The Spring '22 application link for submission will be posted here Nov 2, 2021 and the submission period will close Jan 14, 2022. Contact Prof. Whitney or Christine Klusko Stefano for more info.

CHIS REGULATIONS OVERVIEW

Although no strict time commitments exist for courses in Biology Honors Research (BIO 30100, 30200, & 30300) and Independent Study (BIO 31000), they should entail an overall effort similar to that for a typical Biology elective course of an equivalent number of credits. The mentor (who is responsible for evaluating the student’s performance and assigning their grade) must be a faculty member in the Department of Biology. However, students commonly conduct research in the labs of co-mentors, such as faculty members in other departments or Ph.D.-level scientists at other institutions.

Students are encouraged to explore various programs at CCNY that may be able to provide stipends for undergraduates who are doing research (e.g., AMP, AMS, City College Fellows, MARC, NOAA-CREST, and RISE).

HONORS RESEARCH REQUIREMENTS: ENROLLMENT & COMPLETION

HONORS BIOLOGY ENROLLMENT (BIO 30100, 30200, & 30300)

Before beginning Honors courses in Biology, students must have completed at least 15 credits in the Biology core courses; these include BIO 10100, 10200, 20600, 20700, 22800, and 22900. Students interested in research but who have not yet completed this requirement are encouraged to begin working in a lab and later apply for enrollment in Honors once they meet the requirement.

Students enrolling in Honors in Biology must have at least a 3.5 GPA in the Biology courses and an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students must maintain a 3.5 GPA in Biology courses and an overall 3.0 GPA for enrollment in subsequent semesters and for granting of Departmental Honors upon graduation. In cases where the student’s GPA slips slightly below the level required for reenrollment, the committee may approve enrollment for a one-semester probationary period in consultation with the mentor.

The application must be endorsed (via email) by the mentor and submitted to the departmental Committee on Honors and Independent Studies (CHIS) for evaluation. A brief summary of the proposed research (typically one paragraph) should be attached to the application. Only laboratory or field projects will be accepted for Honors.

To ensure consideration of their application, students must apply three weeks before the first day of classes each semester. Students are highly encouraged to apply to the CHIS during the normal registration period towards the end of the semester before which they want to begin Honors.

The Chair of the CHIS committee will forward approved applications to the Registrar, who will open a section for the mentor and place the student in it.


HONORS BIOLOGY COMPLETION

To earn Honors in Biology, students must complete three semesters of Honors credit with a grade of A- or higher for the first two semesters (BIO 30100 and 30200) and a grade of A or higher for the final semester (BIO 30300). Students will receive 9 credits for these courses, but only 6 credits may be applied as Biology elective credits. 

Each semester, students must submit a research paper to their mentor; the mentor reads the paper and assigns a grade. Students should consult mentors early in the semester regarding a suitable timeline to ensure that they provide the paper to the mentor sufficiently in advance of the deadline to allow for comments, rewriting, and final grading. The student is responsible for submitting the graded paper and Progress Report Form to the CHIS by the last day of finals; however, students and faculty are strongly encouraged to submit the graded paper by the last day of classes. Once this is done, the mentor may submit the student’s grade to the College. 

The research paper should be in the format of a scientific paper. It is expected that papers will be longer and include more substance with each passing semester. Although the Committee has no specific requirements regarding length, first-semester papers often run 6-10 double-spaced pages (including references, tables, and figures), and final research papers (third semester) typically are substantially longer (often 20-25 pages). 

If a student has not completed sufficient progress (i.e., if no graded research paper is submitted to the CHIS on time), the mentor may choose to assign an INC grade, which will convert to FIN if not completed 10 weeks into the next semester. This is extremely detrimental to a student applying to professional schools. Alternatively, the mentor can submit a grade of Y (Y is a pending grade). A great deal of paperwork is involved in changing an INC or Y to a final letter grade; hence, mentors should avoid this whenever possible. In cases where an INC or Y is assigned, the Progress Report Form and final graded paper still must be submitted to the CHIS before the mentor files paperwork with the College to change the INC or Y to the final letter grade. A student with an INC grade cannot register for another semester of honors study until the faculty mentor submits a final letter grade to the registrar.

The final research paper must have a cover sheet with the title of the research, student name, and date. The name and title of the mentor (and those of any co-mentor) should be in the lower right corner of the cover sheet, with a line below that for his/her signature of approval. The CHIS committee strongly suggests that students make every effort to collect all data in the first and second semesters (BIO 30100 and 30200), with the third term (BIO 30300) used for writing the final research paper. Students are responsible for submitting their final research papers to their mentors for evaluation, correction and final acceptance. Students should submit two copies of their final research paper to the Chair of the CHIS. 

Students completing the third semester of Honors are eligible and highly encouraged to present their research at the annual Biology Undergraduate Research Presentations, usually held in late March or early April. Students who completed BIO 30300 the preceding fall or summer term should present their research along with the students finishing BIO 30300 in the spring semester. Each student will have ten minutes to present his or her research and five minutes to answer questions. The Presentation quality factors into the determination of departmental award recipients. 

INDEPENDENT STUDY REQUIREMENTS: ENROLLMENT & COMPLETION

INDEPENDENT STUDY ENROLLMENT (BIO 31000)

Before beginning Independent Study courses in Biology, students must have completed at least 15 credits in the Biology core courses; these include BIO 10100, 10200, 20600, 20700, 22800, and 22900. Students interested in research but who have not yet completed this requirement are encouraged to begin working in a lab and later apply for enrollment in Independent Study once they meet the requirement. 

Students enrolling in Independent Study in Biology should have at least a 3.0 GPA in the Biology courses and an overall GPA of 2.8 or higher. Students should maintain a 3.0 GPA in Biology courses and an overall 2.8 GPA for enrollment in subsequent semesters. 

The application must be endorsed by the mentor and submitted to the departmental Committee on Honors and Independent Studies (CHIS) for evaluation. A brief summary of the proposed research (typically one paragraph) should be attached to the application. Individual laboratory, field, or library investigation of a problem is suitable, but no more than three credits of library research may be taken. 

To ensure consideration of their application, students must apply three weeks before the first day of classes each semester. Students are highly encouraged to apply to the CHIS during the normal registration period towards the end of the semester before which they wish to begin Independent Study. However

The Chair of the CHIS committee will forward approved applications to the Registrar, who will open a section for the mentor and place the student in it. 


INDEPENDENT STUDY COMPLETION

Students may earn 1-3 credits of Independent Study (BIO 31000) in a given term. The maximum total number of credits that can be earned is 9, but only 6 credits may be applied as Biology elective credits. Students may do one semester (up to 3 credits) of non-laboratory Independent Study; students intending to earn 6 or 9 credits must do laboratory research.

Each semester, students must submit a research paper to their mentor; the mentor reads the paper and assigns a grade. Students should consult mentors early in the semester regarding a suitable timeline to ensure that they provide the paper to the mentor sufficiently in advance of the deadline to allow for comments, rewriting, and final grading. The student is responsible for submitting the graded paper and Progress Report Form to the CHIS by the last day of finals; however, students and faculty are strongly encouraged to submit the graded paper by the last day of classes. Once this is done, the mentor may submit the student’s grade to the College. 

The research paper should be in the format of a scientific paper. It is expected that papers will be longer and include more substance with each passing semester (if the student completes more than one semester). Although the Committee has no specific requirements regarding length, first-semester papers (for 3 credits of Independent Study) often run 6-10 double-spaced pages (including references, tables, and figures). 

If a student has not completed sufficient progress (i.e., if no graded research paper is submitted to the CHIS on time), the mentor may choose to assign an INC grade, which will convert to FIN if not completed 10 weeks into the next semester. This is extremely detrimental to a student applying to professional schools. A great deal of paperwork is involved in changing an INC to a final letter grade; hence, mentors should avoid this whenever possible. In cases where an INC is assigned, the Progress Report Form and final graded paper still must be submitted to the CHIS before the mentor files paperwork with the College to change the INC to the final letter grade. A student with an INC grade cannot register for another semester of honors study until the faculty mentor submits a final letter grade to the registrar.

Students completing three semesters of Independent Study (9 total credits) may present their research along with the Honors students at the annual Biology Undergraduate Research Presentations, usually held in late March or early April. Participation is optional and dependent on mentor approval and available space. Each student will have ten minutes to present his or her research and five minutes to answer questions. Presentation quality factors into the determination of departmental awards recipients. Independent Study students in this situation should contact the Prof. Whitney Chair of the CHIS committee early in the spring semester.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I switch mentors for Honors or Independent Study?
Yes

If I start in independent study, can I switch to Honors if my GPA rises and now meets the 3.5 minimum?

No. Honors requires three semesters of registered Honors research, so students will continue to be registered in Independent Study for future semesters.

Can I conduct Honors or Independent Study during the summer term?
Yes, if enrolled in the extended term.

Can I conduct Honors or Independent Study during the winter term?
Although this is strongly discouraged by the Department of Biology, students may register for at most 1 credit of Independent Study during the winter term. Honors study cannot be conducted during the winter term because students must register for 3 credits of Honors study each semester.

Approximately how many hours should I expect to work per week during Honors or Independent Study in the fall or spring term?
The Department of Biology suggests that students dedicate approximately the same effort to their Honors or Independent Study as they would for a typical upper-level Biology course of the same number of credits.

How do I submit my honors/independent study application? 
All applications are submitted online. Check above on this page for the link.

All applications require endorsements via email from the faculty mentor and co-mentor (if applicable)

Where do I submit my graded research papers? 
Signed progress report forms and research papers must be submitted electronically (following emailed directions) or to Christine Klusko Stefano in Marshak 526 no later than 5pm on the last day of finals each semester.