is a vital and essential part of the Human Biology major.
It is not necessary to do laboratory research, but the formulation
of questions and the investigation of those questions, either
in the lab, library, or field, are important parts of the
integration of biological problems with real world concerns.
It isn't necessary to definitively answer any given research
question (you may end up with more questions than what you
started with), but it is necessary to learn how to ask questions
and how to devise ways of attempting to answer them. Ultimately,
this is what life is all about - trying to answer the questions
that you will encounter every day. The interface between
science and society presents particularly complex questions
that will have equally complex answers. The road from question
to answer will not be straight. But, what you learn on that
road will give you the skills you need for a lifetime of
answering the hard questions.
will work closely with their mentors to develop questions
that can in some way be answered in a one-year project.
You will also design your investigative rubric with your
mentor and determine the specific components that must be
included in a thesis appropriate for the type of analysis
being performed. You may do projects in the lab or projects
dealing with policy, ethics, law, or the social sciences.
You will need to rigorously review existing literature,
determine how answers to your question will fit into existing
knowledge, and propose where your answers will lead further
investigations. Your research should be thorough, rigorous,
and you should not become so attached to one idea that you
cannot see its flaws and prepare for the inevitable challenge
to your ideas. Academic research, regardless of the field,
is an intellectual dialogue and your challenge is to find
a way to speak to two audiences - one in science and one
in the humanities.
written thesis and formal presentation of the thesis to
the public will then serve as a forum for thought and further
examination of the complex problems you have investigated
in your research. You must clearly present the biology and
the humanity of your project and synthesize the two halves
into a cohesive presentation. The thesis is a substantial
written project and will take a considerable amount of time
to write well. Set milestones for yourself and start writing
early. The presentation is no less important and to some
extent far more challenging. You have a limited amount of
time, and a limited number of slides, to tell your story.
You must identify what is most important and necessary and
present that, knowing that your audience will not have access
to your thesis. Your presentation will also therefore take
you are dedicating at least a year of your life to this
project, you should above all else pick a topic that interests
you. Don't pick a question because you think the faculty
will like it; pick a question because you want to research
it. If you choose something you don't personally have an
interest in, you will find it very difficult to stay motivated.
There are lots of questions out there waiting to be asked,
so keep looking until you find what interests you.
examples of work presented for the Human Biology degree,
see the students
page of this website for the titles of recent students' theses.