What is the Honours Project in Biochemistry?

Students enrolled in the Honours B.Sc. with Specialization in Biochemistry, the Specialization in Biochemistry (biotechnology)/B.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering (biotechnology) or the Specialization in Biopharmaceutical Sciences (genomics option) have the opportunity to complete a two session research project (September to April).

The Honours Project is highly recommended for students who intend to pursue a career in research.

Under the direction of a Faculty member, you will have the opportunity to gain extensive practical training in current scientific techniques, review and report scientific data as well as enhance your oral and written communication skills.  By opting to complete an Honours Research Project, you will contribute to the advancement of knowledge by working in an active research environment and gain the skills and experience required to continue on to higher degrees (M.Sc., Ph.D., M.D., D.Ds.) or to enter the job market.

Eligibility

To be eligible for an Honours Project, a student must meet the following conditions:

  • Have already completed all of the compulsory courses in their Honours BSc with Specialization program up to the end of their third year of studies:
    • For students in the Honours BSc with Specialization in Biochemistry, this includes:
    BCH3120General Intermediary Metabolism
    BCH3125 Protein Structure and Function
    BCH3170Molecular Biology
    BCH3346Biochemistry Laboratory II
    BCH3356Molecular Biology Laboratory
    CHM3120 Intermediate Organic Chemistry
    CHM3122  Applications of Spectroscopy in Chemistry
    CHM3153  Cell Biology
    • For students Honours BSc with Specialization in Biochemistry (biotechnology), this includes:
    BCH3120General Intermediary Metabolism
    BCH3125 Protein Structure and Function
    BCH3170Molecular Biology
    BCH3346Biochemistry Laboratory II
    BCH3356Molecular Biology Laboratory
    BIO3124General Microbiology 
    CHG2312  Fluid Flow
    CHG2314Heat Transfer Operations  
    CHG2317Introduction to Chemical Process Analysis and Design
    MAT2322Calculus III for Engineers   
    HIS2129Technology, Society and Environment since 1800
    or
    PHI2394
    Scientific Thought and Social Values 
  • Have a CGPA of 6.5 or greater when registering for the Honours Project OR
  • Have a GPA of 6.5 or greater calculated from the two most recent years of full-time study in the Specialization program (minimum of 60 credits) and including all of the compulsory third year courses. (Most graduate programs in the biosciences require a CGPA of 7.0 for admission but many do not consider the first year of study in their calculations)

Please note: these conditions of eligibility are strictly enforced by the department.

Finding a project supervisor

During the Fall semester of the year before you plan to begin the Honours Project, you should begin the process of identifying potential project supervisors.

  • Review the research interests of professors in the Faculty of Science, and the Faculty of Medicine to see what types of research most interest you.
  • Once students have identified a professor whose interests align with theirs, they should contact the professor to explore the possibility of undertaking a fourth year research project in their laboratories.  Provide potential supervisors with a CV and with a copy of your transcripts. Offer to meet with them for an interview.

Note: It is a good idea to meet several researchers. Researchers usually interview several students.

  • Before an interview, review the work being done in the lab and prepare questions about the research and the lab.
  • During the interview, show interest. Ask questions about potential Honours Projects but also about other research in the lab. Different researchers use different criteria in selecting Honours students: marks, previous lab experience, knowledge, enthusiasm, gut feeling, etc. At the end of the interview try to arrange a date by which you and the professor will inform each other of your decisions. If you have a chance, talk to other students in the lab.
  • As soon as you have decided which researcher you would prefer to work with, let the researcher know.  
    Be prepared - just because a researcher is at the top of your list doesn’t mean you will be their first choice
  • Once you have a match, as a courtesy, contact any researchers who may be waiting to hear from you to let them know you have decided to work with someone else.

What to do once you have found a supervisor?

  • Registration for the BCH4040 course must be done in person, at the Faculty of Science Office of Undergraduate Programs (GNN 172) during the normal registration period.  The registration form (PDF) must be signed by both the student and the supervisor prior to registration.

What if you do not find a supervisor?

There is no guarantee that you will find a supervisor. If you have difficulty finding a project supervisor, contact Professor Chris Boddy, who will help you identify supervisors who are still looking for students.

What is expected of you?

The amount of time a student spends doing research will be agreed upon by the student and the supervisor; however, a student should expect, as a minimum, to spend the equivalent of about 2 days per week doing research (15-20 hours).

In addition to the research component of the Honours Project, a student will:

  • Present research results in the form of a poster at the annual poster day.
  • Submit an Honours thesis describing the research. 

During the year, you will receive additional information about the Honours Project, including information about the poster, the thesis and important deadlines. For additional information, consult the department by email

Students who do not register for an Honours Project

Students who are not eligible for the Honours Project, or students who decide not to register for the Honours project, must register for:

  • Three credits from:       
    • Advanced Techniques in Biosciences (BPS4127)
    • Bioinformatics Laboratory (BPS4104)
    • Bioinformatics and the Cell (BIO4138)
  • Six additional credits of 3000 or 4000 level science electives to be approved by the program.
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