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?
Research for a biology SIP is normally done over a 10-week period during the summer before the senior year. Acceptable projects involve moderately original work carried out with direction from scientists in academic, industrial, or government settings. Research can be laboratory or field based. The main criterion is that the student be able to gather and analyze a reliable set of data in the ten-week period that they can then interpret and discuss in a thesis. Long-term projects involving the collection of data that cannot be interpreted until some future date are not appropriate for the SIP. 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.
Upon returning to campus in the fall of the senior year, the student submits to the department the results of their project in the form of a written senior thesis (due mid-late September of the senior year). The thesis then undergoes peer review by classmates and a faculty member in the biology department. Revision follows and the final bound version is submitted at the beginning of winter term (early January) for grading. Many of these projects have resulted in publications with the students as coauthors.
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 those ten weeks. 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.
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):
- Obtain departmental approval of the proposed SIP by submitting a paragraph summary of the proposed project, site and supervisor to the designated Biology SIP coordinator via the SIP Moodle site. This is due no later than Monday of 10th week of junior spring quarter.
- Complete the online SIP Registration Form; select 2 Units, Summer/Fall for a research SIP. The Faculty SIP Supervisor is the instructor of record at Kalamazoo College, not your on-site research supervisor.
- Carry out the project during the summer and write the thesis following the guidelines provided in the Biology Department SIP Handbook.
- Have your manuscript (i.e., the draft of your thesis) reviewed and edited by your SIP supervisor before leaving the research facility where the work was done. Also have your SIP supervisor sign the title page of the manuscript before you leave.
- Submit an initial, but complete copy of your manuscript for preliminary review to the SIP coordinator in the Biology Department by the end of the second week of the fall quarter of your senior year. Your SIP supervisor should have signed the copy that you turn in, indicating that the thesis meets with their approval.
- The thesis is given a preliminary review by a faculty member and, if not satisfactory, will be returned for additional revision before further action is taken. If satisfactory, the thesis will be reviewed by a thesis review team of peers and a faculty member during fall quarter of senior year.
- Prepare the final version of your SIP thesis, incorporating comments from your thesis review team.
- Submit the final draft of your SIP thesis to the SIP coordinator by Friday of the first week of Winter quarter. Consult the Biology Department’s Handbook for Juniors and Seniors for details on formatting and binding the thesis.
- Your SIP thesis is reviewed and graded by members of the Kalamazoo College Biology faculty.
- The thesis will be returned to the SIP coordinator who will record the grade awarded by the biology faculty readers. This is your grade for BIOL 593 (your SIP).
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.