Students enrolled in the M.A. Program in Biotechnology have the opportunity to receive academic credit while conducting research related to biotechnology under the sponsorship of a faculty mentor within or outside the University. Credits received from this course may be used to fulfill the laboratory requirement for the degree.
Students may work on a significant research problem related to their professional needs. The student and the mentor determine the nature and extent of this independent study. In some laboratories, the student may be assigned to work with a postdoctoral fellow, graduate student or a senior member of the laboratory, who is in turn supervised by the mentor. The mentor is responsible for mentoring and evaluating the student's progress and performance.
L. Yamasaki (ly63) coordinates this course. The coordinator is responsible for determining the appropriateness of the project in meeting degree requirements. The coordinator also serves as a liaison between the Department of Biological Sciences and the mentor. The coordinator assigns a grade at the end of the semester, strongly dependent on the grade recommendation from the mentor.
Should I take this course? Read the Student Handbook, especially the "Lab requirements" section, carefully.
Proposal: Define the project scope and design experiments
This course is open only to students in the MA program in Biotechnology.
First, secure a lab in which to do your research. The mentor should be the person with whom you work directly. The mentor must be available for discussion with the coordinator and have direct knowledge about the student's progress. Within the University, the mentor should be a faculty member or the PI of the lab. Do not ask the company president or the head of human resource to be your mentor unless the president/head is the person you work with directly. You should tell the prospective mentor about the course requirements. Do not simply send him or her this web page and expect him or her to read it. Tell your mentor what is expected of the student and the mentor. Encourage him or her to contact L. Yamasaki (ly63) to clarify any concerns or issues. Once you secured a position, ask your mentor to send me a brief e-mail agreeing to provide supervision and an evaluation for the student.
Second, fill out the SR Registration Approval Form. Once the e-mail from the mentor is recieved and the project approved, you can register online via SSOL.
Registration without proper approval will result in undesirable academic and financial consequences. (i.e. If you register without filling out and getting a signature on the SR Registration Approval Form, the course registration will not occur properly and your evaluation and grade will be affected.
Note: Summer terms are run via the School of Continuing Education. Check their web site for registration dates. Usually pre-registration is in early April; regular registration is in mid May.
SR Registration Approval Form
First, discuss your project with your mentor/supervisor.
Write a one page proposal and submit it via courseworks and to your mentor and supervisor. In the proposal, state the goals you wish to accomplish and how you intend to accomplish the goals. List the types of experiments to be done. Discuss anticipated outcomes. Remember this is a proposal for what you intend to accomplish this semester, not what your mentor plans to accomplish in the next 5 years.
The proposal should be sent to ly63 via e-mail attachment within two weeks of semester start. For summer terms, the proposal is due within one week.
A word about confidential information:
Students may be required by the host institution to sign confidential agreements. Such an agreement is between the student and the host institution, not between the course coordinator/the University and the host institution. Therefore, students should not send anything confidential to the course coordinator. Students are advised to have the institution's legal department check all reports before submitting to the coordinator. Caution: This can take a very long time.
Lab work: You must spend a minimum of 56 hours at the bench for each point registered. This time commitment may include time spent reading research articles or writing the research paper. However, the mentor and supervisor should not have a major influence on how much time you should be in the library and how much time in the lab. It is quite common that students are expected to read and write on their own time.
Lab safety: If the research project involves radioactive materials or animals, the student is required to complete specific training by the University.
You may be assigned to work with a postdoc or another lab member. In this case, both the PI and your immediate supervisor should be aware of what you are doing.
Final Report and Completion
Think of this as a mid-term evaluation from yourself. Have you learned anything new? Have you done anything worthwhile? Have you accomplished as much as you had hoped? Is there a change of plan?
Write a 2-3 page progress report and submit it via Courseworks and to the mentor/supervisor at the indicated date (see deadlines). The report should include the work performed up to that point, results (or the lack of), and deviation from the proposal, if any.
If you split a SR project into two terms, write a four page second progress report at the end of the first term. In this report, you should also include what you plan to do during the second term. Another midterm progress report is required for the second term.
Caution: Lab projects are never about counting hours. If your mentor felt that you have not accomplished much, even if you have put in the required number of hours, you may be still expected to do more.
If you did not complete the project and would like more time to work on the experiments or the paper, contact L. Yamsaki before the semester ends. The completion of the course does not depend on the completion of the entire project listed in the proposal.
Write a final report describing what you have accomplished this semester, with goals, introduction (brief background and significance), methods used, results achieved, discussion of expected vs. observed outcomes and future steps and references. The paper shall be 10 double-spaced pages, excluding figures, tables and references. If you work with a postdoc or other non-faculty member of the lab, be sure to acknowledge any efforts of key staff in your training laboratory.
Submit only electronic copies of the final report to your SR advisor directly and to the Program via Courseworks by the deadline. Late reports will be penalized.
If you split a single SR project into two terms, then a shorter 4 page report is due at the end of the first term and the full 10-page final report is required at the end of the second term.
L. Yamasaki will contact the SR advisor for an evaluation of your work. Please note that only faculty advisors can officially evaluate your work. They may choose to consult your daily SR supervisor for any input on your training.
SR Grading Guidelines
The final grade depends on the evaluation from the mentor, timely submission of all papers, and the quality of the papers according to the standard of the Biotechnology program. In general, the grade starts at the mentor's evaluation. For each late paper, the grade is lowered one stop. (e.g. A becomes A-). For each poor quality paper, the grade is lowered one to three stops, depending on how bad the paper is. For each missing paper, the grade is lowered three stops (e.g. A becomes B).
If you have completed the work and sent in all the papers, but the mentor is slow in sending his/her evaluation, the grade is CP (credit pending). A letter grade will be entered once the mentor's evaluation is received.
If you split a SR project into two terms, a grade of YC (year credits) is given for the first term. At the end of the second term, a final letter grade will be entered for both terms.