Excellent students with plans for research after graduation should consider the Honors program in Biology. Typically students begin research with a faculty member during their sophomore or junior year, well before officially enrolling in Honors research during the fall semester of their senior year. Honors provides a formal research opportunity in which the challenges, demands, and potential rewards are higher than for ordinary supervised research in biology. For many students, the experience of taking on an intimidating project makes them much more comfortable with both setting and working toward loftier goals later in their careers. Honors also offers a very realistic, early experience of actually doing a thesis in a future graduate program. Finally, Honors offers the chance to demonstrate ability and originality, and shows whether the student can maintain solid grades while adding a substantial commitment to her or his academic load.
The Departmental Honors program is administered by the Charles Center, which has excellent guides and advice available on its website. Interested students might also want to consult the archive of Honors projects completed in Biology.