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Department of Biological Sciences

Independent Study and Honors Research Policy

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, undergraduate research is considered a high impact practice in higher education and one that is valued among the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences.  Research experiences that involve undergraduates encourage them to:

  • develop skills related to critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and leadership
  • generate questions, aims and hypotheses based on experience, expertise and literature
  • collect and record information and data, choosing or devising an appropriate methodology 
  • evaluate information, data and inquiry process rigorously using self-generated criteria based on experience, expertise and literature
  • analyze and synthesize information and data to gain knowledge that addresses identified gaps in understanding
  • use appropriate scientific language to communicate this knowledge to diverse audiences

In our department, the faculty offer research experiences as Independent Study, Honors and SOAR (Student Opportunities for Academic Research) projects. Note that such experiences are not required for any major in the life sciences at Moravian, and may not be possible due to other commitments on the part of the student or the faculty member. We want to offer this opportunity to as many interested students as possible, but it may not be feasible for us to accommodate every student who wants to carry out research with us. Given the limited number of students who can be effectively mentored at one time, the following criteria are considered by the faculty when selecting research students:

  • Level of student preparation to maximally benefit from the experience 
  • Faculty time and willingness to commit to a particular student based on their skill level and need, which varies from student to student
  • Future plans of the student 
  • Effective working relationship between the faculty and student
  • For Honors research, please read through the eligibility criteria
  • For SOAR research, please read through the eligibility criteria
  • For Independent Study (IS) experiences:
    • Junior/senior status and qualifying GPA  is required 
    • Submission of application by the University's mandated deadline, currently the last day of classes in the semester prior to the semester of study. 
    • IS projects are carried out on a per-semester basis with no guarantee that subsequent IS will be offered in the same lab - each semester, faculty and students should re-evaluate the criteria above, especially as it relates to their availability. This is to ensure as many students as possible may participate in this high impact practice
    • If you are interested in participating in a research experience, we highly encourage you to reach out to faculty with shared interests at the start of the semester prior to the semester of study for an informational meeting.
    • Please note - an informational meeting with a faculty advisor is not an agreement for accepting students for IS or Honors. 

Several faculty may have additional specific requirements for engaging in research experiences in their laboratory such as:  minimum GPA cut-off, previous relevant coursework and/or interview with faculty mentor.  They will share these details with interested students as appropriate.

In addition to IS, SOAR and Honors, there are many other opportunities for students to gain valuable experience in their field of interest such as:

  • Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU programs
  • Internships in a variety of specialties/areas:  agriculture, dentistry, veterinary medicine, biotech companies and medical offices. The Center for Career and Civic Engagement can assist students in securing general elective credit for almost any internship. 
  • Summer jobs at science-related workplaces such as The Wildlands Conservancy or Lehigh Valley Zoo.