Biology 371/372 "Syllabus" for Independent Research Immunology and/or Genetics Course Description

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Biology 371/372
"Syllabus" for Independent Research

Immunology and/or Genetics
Course Description:

Original, independent research in immunology and/or genetics


• at least one upper level lab course in biology

• instructor’s permission
Course meetings:

Formal lab meetings at a time to be determined during the first week of classes & informal meetings as necessary

Instructor: Sophia Sarafova (Dana 263; x2899;
Course objectives:

• To design and conduct an original research project

• To develop experience with experimental techniques in immunology

• To develop a working knowledge of relevant research literature

• To practice scientific writing and participate in the peer review process

• To be able to discuss the research and topic with other biologists and/or immunologists


• Students will develop (with guidance) a research project proposal at the beginning of the semester that will provide initiative, outline an experimental strategy, and serve as a request for funding of consumable supplies from the biology department budget (and possibly outside sources). The written proposal (including preliminary reading list) is due no later than the Friday of the second week of classes.

• Each student will present oral reports of research progress, relevant readings, and/or challenges at scheduled lab meetings.
• Students will take primary responsibility for conducting research and do so with professional attitudes and time commitments. This is a lab course and I expect a minimum of 6 hours of productive lab work per week. It is more realistic to expect to spend an average of 8-12 hours per week working and thinking about your project.

• Students will produce a manuscript (with active feedback from the instructor and peers) that can be published in part or whole by a peer reviewed research journal. Publishable manuscripts require many drafts, reviews, and revisions. I expect that, if necessary, students will continue to participate in the publication process after the semester ends

• Students are encouraged to present research results at appropriate scientific meetings and to apply for funding from the dean’s office to attend a meeting. Generally, students will be first author on abstracts resulting directly from their work.
• Students will be self-motivated and work independently, approaching the instructor for guidance regularly. To facilitate communication in that respect, students will submit by email each week answers to the following 5 questions
1. How have you spent your time?

2. What do you know?

3. What don’t you know?

4. How can you find out what you don’t know?

5. What are your frustrations?
Required Readings:

Each student is expected to search appropriate databases (medline, biological abstracts, etc.), read, and become familiar with the scientific literature relating to their research. In other words, with the help of the instructor, the student should become an expert on the literature relevant to their research topic.


Your final course grade will be calculated according to the following criteria at the end of the semester. I am happy to discuss your progress at any time during the semester.

15% - Written research proposal

40%- Effort, attitude, and time invested (including lab safety, attention to detail, participation in lab meetings, troubleshooting, etc.)

25% - Final written lab report (format resembles a scientific paper)

10% - Organization of lab notebook, computer files, and any other documentation that remains in the lab as your research legacy

10% - Evidence of original thought regarding the project

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