All Kalamazoo College students do a Senior Integrated Project (SIP) as part of their college graduation requirement. While it is not required that the SIP be conducted in the major, most biology majors elect to do their SIP in biology. The Biology Department strongly recommends that students consider doing a SIP in biology if they plan to continue with biology-related work/studies after graduating college. Current Kalamazoo College Biology majors can find more information on Moodle.
Archive of biology SIP theses and poster presentations (searchable; abstracts available to public)
What does a biology SIP entail?
Biology majors will complete the work leading to a one or two unit SIP in Biology during the summer between their junior and senior years. Your SIP must have some connection to the field of Biology, and must be approved by the Biology SIP coordinator. Your experience could be in a field or laboratory working with a research scientist, a healthcare or educational setting working with a professional, or in a non-profit or business setting, as long as some aspect of your work intersects with the field of biology. Independent research conducted as part of an organized summer program such as REU, SURP, and SURF programs can be used as the basis for the SIP thesis, as can research that is affiliated with a specific mentor but not part of a formal internship program. Students that join established labs often work on a smaller part of an ongoing larger project and may be supervised by graduate or postdoctoral students. Students may also work in a clinical setting, e.g., as a medical scribe, EMT, or technician.
Upon returning to campus in the fall of the senior year, all Biology SIP students will submit a literature review, which will be the final product of the one-unit SIP in Biology. Students will have the option to register for a second BIOL 593 unit for Winter of their senior year. Students who complete this second unit will write a more comprehensive thesis centering on their summer work. The thesis might take the form of a scholarly manuscript (a full “lab report” evaluating original data collected during the SIP experience), a detailed case study (based on a clinical experience), or a proposal for future work.
How do I find a SIP project and mentor?
There are many ways to find a SIP mentor and a suitable research project. Information on avenues to pursue can be found on the Consult the Research Opportunities in Biology page.
Do I get paid to conduct my SIP research?
It is important to point out that your SIP is meant to be a learning experience rather than an opportunity to make as much money as possible. If at all possible, try not to put income at the top of the list when choosing your SIP. It is, however, important to have enough money to cover your expenses while working on your SIP so that you don’t have to work another job to feed yourself during the SIP experience. Consult the Research Opportunities in Biology page for information on sources of support for your SIP work. It should be clear from the list that there are many opportunities available; it is up to you to initiate the search, and then to get whatever help you need to procure funds.
The Biology Department also has limited funding to support students completing Biology SIPs, see side bar for how to apply for Biology Summer Fellowships.
What steps are involved in processing my Biology SIP?
The standard procedure for processing a Biology SIP is as follows (check with other departments if your SIP is outside of biology):
- Step 1. Complete SIP proposal information form (Class of 2024) via the SIP Moodle site. This form will ask for a project description, SIP location and mentor information, and is due no later than Monday of 10th week of junior spring quarter.
- Step 2. Use language provided on the Moodle Biology SIP site to send an email to your on-site SIP mentor with Agreement Form link.
- Step 3. Complete the online SIP Registration Form to register your SIP with the K College Registrar. Select 1 Unit, Summer for a Biology SIP. The Faculty SIP Supervisor is the instructor of record at Kalamazoo College, the Biology SIP Coordinator, not your on-site research supervisor.
- Carry out the project during the summer and write the literature review following the guidelines provided in the Biology Department SIP Handbook.
- If you are planning to complete a second SIP unit during Winter term of senior year, make sure you get let your summer SIP mentor know early in the process. You may want to have a draft manuscript or preliminary analysis reviewed and edited by your SIP mentor before leaving the research or clinical facility where the work was done.
- The first complete version of this 2nd unit SIP thesis – properly formatted, and ready for peer review – will be due Week 2 Friday of Winter Term during the senior year. Revision of the SIP occurs during the winter term, with the entire term available for this work. Note: You may register for only 2.9 units in Winter in addition to your 2nd SIP unit. You will be expected to revise the SIP thesis based on feedback you receive from peers and the faculty convener of your review group, as well as from your summer mentor. The final, bound version is due Week 1 Friday of Spring Term of the senior year.
In addition to a written SIP project, the SIP is also presented orally either as a seminar or as a poster presentation during the department’s annual Diebold Symposium. This presentation is part of the BIOL490 Senior Seminar. For information on preparing your presentation, please refer to the Diebold Symposium Presentation Guidelines.