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.
- A student interested in conducting research for Honors in Biology must be a Biology major and have either a research advisor or co-advisor who is a W&M Biology Department faculty member.
- When there is a co-advisor of the Honors thesis who is not a W&M Biology Department faculty member (i.e., an “external” co-advisor), the Honors thesis committee will include the W&M Biology Department co-advisor, the external co-advisor, a second W&M Biology Department faculty member, and another external faculty member.
- When a student proposes an external co-advisor of the Honors thesis who is outside of W&M (i.e., an external co-advisor who is not a faculty member at W&M), this proposal will be discussed on a case-by-case basis by the Biology Department. That discussion will include review of the CV of the proposed external co-advisor.