Using as a model the course, Problems in Environmental Science, seniors are encouraged to enroll in innovative, project-oriented, capstone courses that offer intensive independent research experiences that draw on their previous three years of training. These 5-credit courses are typically the only biology course that a major takes during that semester. The courses focus on subjects that span several levels of the biological hierarchy (from molecules to ecosystems) or make interdisciplinary connections. These courses are structured so that a general theme is developed within which each student pursues an independent research project or portion of a group research project. Given the high student/faculty ratio in biology, we believe that these senior capstone courses are an innovative way to insure that each Colby student has a significant research experience quite different from traditional advanced courses.
The department also has added an honors program, allowing juniors to apply for honors work. Qualified students must have worked out a research plan with a faculty advisor that will be carried out during the senior year.
The Department. of Physics and Astronomy has recently developed two junior-year, project-oriented courses, Experimental Atomic Physics and Experimental Condensed Matter Physics, that prepare students for conducting advanced senior research projects. Students taking these courses learn experimental techniques and use the same equipment used by faculty in their research laboratories. Often, the work students do in these courses evolves into additional work as summer research assistants or becomes part of their senior projects or theses. New, cutting-edge experiments have been developed for these courses in order to increase the breadth and depth of subsequent research projects in the senior year.
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