Rice University
BioSciences at Rice


EBIO 403 and EBIO 404 are 5 credit per semester courses designed to give you hands-on experience with research. You should have a specific project worked out with your advisor that will test a hypothesis in some area of ecology, behavior or evolution. You may get help from your advisor, from grad students, post-docs, technicians, or other undergraduates in choosing and executing the research. You may work together with other undergraduates. In some cases your work will be publishable and you should participate in this process. In many cases the work done during your senior year will be a continuation of a project you began earlier (e.g., in EBIO 306 or as paid work).

The EEB Faculty coordinator for EBIO 403 and 404 is Scott Solomon.


The Bachelor of Science Degree offered by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Rice University requires that prospective students take EBIO 403 and EBIO 404 (Honors Research), in the Fall and Spring semesters of their senior year. Research performed in EBIO 403/404 will culminate in a senior thesis. Students must contact and be accepted by an advisor no later than the Spring of their junior year.

The application form along with a copy of your transcript must be turned in to Pedro Muniz in the Department of BioSciences Office, W100 GRB Hall by April 15, each spring semester.

How Many Hours a Week?

The official guidelines indicate that three hours per week should be worked for each hour of credit, in this case 15 hours a week. This counts lab work, fieldwork, reading, and writing. Some students will work more than this, but it should be their choice. In addition, research often requires pulses of intense effort followed by less intense work times, so you should aim for an average of 15 hours per week

Official Requirements:

You should spend most of your time on active, hands-on research. However, two written reports are required during the first semester. In addition, at the conclusion of the year, you are required to complete a final paper (in scientific journal format) and participate in the annual Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium (RURS) poster session . Your projects will be read at various stages by your advisor, and by a departmental committee. You should revise your work after comments from your advisor and before you give it to the committee. Turn in papers and posters to the committee as attached documents. In the fall, you will turn in the Introduction and Methods of your paper (we recognize that your methods could change later) and a brief report on your progress in the fall semester. In spring you will turn in a completed paper, and a poster which you will enter in RURS.

You will receive feedback on your work and progress by your advisor, by fellow senior research students, and by a departmental committee. You should revise your work after comments from your advisor and before you give it to the committee. Turn in papers and posters to the committee by uploading to Owl-Space.

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Writing format

With your advisor choose a journal and adhere to its style and format . Put on the paper Note on the title page what journal style you are following. Ecology Letters, Proceedings B of the Royal Society, Ecology, Behavioral Ecology, Conservation Biology, Journal of Molecular Evolution, and Genetics are good possibilities. Listed below are recommended references on designing, executing, and writing up your research. Along the way, your advisor and the committee will assist you further in the design, data collection and analysis, and writing processes.

Poster format

Effective posters use figures and summaries to communicate, not long sections of text. The goal is to present your information in an eye-catching and straightforward manner. Try to gear the information on the posters to an audience who may or may not be familiar with your field. Here are a few links with more information of preparing a scientific poster.

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For 403 your grade will be determined by your advisor and by the committee and will be based:

  • 70% on your advisor's assessment of your research
  • 30% on your written material
    • 25% Introduction and Methods
    • 5% on your progress report

In 404 your grade will be based:

  • 70% on your advisor's assessment of your research
  • 15% on your final paper
  • 15% on your poster


What else?

You should be in research because you want to be and might consider it for some part of your career. This is your chance to give it a serious try. In addition to the research you should participate in lab meetings if your advisor has them. You should consider participating in journal clubs either for credit or not. Your advisor can guide you here. We have departmental seminars weekly Mondays at 4 pm that you should attend when you can. In general you should participate in the intellectual life of your lab group and the department as much as you have time for. This is, however, extra, and will not affect your grade.

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If research is not for me

What if I decide research is not for me and do not want to continue with EBIO404? This is fine. You will receive a grade for EBIO 403 only. Of course, you will not be able to graduate with a BS in EEB, but you can receive a BA.