Honors Program in Biochemistry
The only form of honors in biochemistry that we offer is through independent research. A student who has done well in research may choose to write an honors thesis. Before we discuss the honors thesis, we'll first go into how to get into research in the first place.
Research at Binghamton
As a biochemistry student, you can do research with any professor in the biology or chemistry department. Generally, professors are looking for highly motivated students who are
able to commit 12-15 hours per week to research. Professors generally expect you to
continue working in their lab until you graduate, but most are understanding if you
find that you can no longer work with them. Some professors will allow you to "volunteer"
in their lab, which carries less of a commitment, but also bears no academic credit.
A professor may insist that you take it for credit. We recommend registering for BCHM
497, Independent Study in Biochemistry, because this can count as your Math/Science
elective (BIOL 497 and CHEM 497 cannot).
One thing to bear in mind when choosing an advisor is that if you want to complete an honor's thesis, your research needs to be related to biochemistry in some way.
Some professors have specific course requirements in mind for students to enter their lab. You can find this information here for biology professors, and here for chemistry professors. Be sure to also look at the biology page on undergraduate research.
We recommend speaking to professors whose labs you are interested in the semester before you would like to start working. Earlier is better. If you are taking a class with a professor whose lab you would like to work in, get to know them by attending their office hours. Come prepared with questions. Before you broach the subject of joining their lab, read about their research so that you can demonstrate a genuine interest. Don't try to feign interest! If you try to do research in an area that you aren't interested in, it will be very difficult for you to work hard in the face of all the frustration that research tends to throw at you.
Be sure to mention if you can be in Binghamton for winter or summer sessions. Labs
are less likely to be full during those times, and if you don't have other commitments,
you will be able to be in the lab 40-50 hours or more per week.
Research positions are very competitive, and you may find that a given lab is simply full. This means that the lab's graduate students are already mentoring as many students as they can handle. Don't give up! Try another professor, and another. Some professors are looking for sophomores (who can work in their lab for three solid years), but others are looking for upper-classmen because they have more knowledge. Keep in mind that students usually graduate in May, so more spots open up in fall semesters than spring. This means March is the best time to apply to labs. The biochemistry program will run an information session on obtaining a research position in February - keep an eye on the biochem listserv for an announcement. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to be added to the listserv.
If you are accepted into a lab, take the time commitment set by your advisor seriously. Choose your classes so that you have chunks of several hours available to work in the lab. Your advisor might not push you to do experiments. In many labs you will have to be self-motivated.
Once you have been accepted into a lab, please print out this form (.pdf, 438kb) and bring it to Prof. Bane or Tak.
Students who have shown particular interest and aptitude for independent research may wish to consider writing an honors thesis. Students successfully completing the requirements are recognized at graduation for Distinguished Independent Study in Biochemistry. The student must have the support of their research advisor. Their research must relate in some way to biochemistry, and ample progress must have been made by the first semester of the student's senior year. The student's transcript will be marked "Distinguished Independent Work in Biochemistry."
If you want to complete an honors thesis, you must begin planning in the fall of your senior year. Click here (.pdf, 144kb) for a detailed timeline.