Avila University



Biology StudentsThe Biology Department is committed to the concept that the best way to learn science is to do science. All science students at Avila University must do some type of research. Eligible students may be selected to perform Honors Research (see below) or do an internship in a field of interest. The results of these projects will be presented in BI 499 Research Colloquium and Seminar; and Avila's Student Scholar Day, a campus-wide event.

Students who are not involved in Honors Research or an internship must select a faculty research mentor and enroll in BI 492 (Biology Literature Research) or BI 493 (Biology Research) prior to the spring of their senior year. These students will perform an extensive library research project under the guidance of their mentor. This project will take the form of a review article and will be evaluated by the research mentor. The results of this research will be presented in oral form in BI 499 Research Colloquium and Seminar.

All four members of the Biology Department have ongoing research interests in which students may become involved.  Examples include:

  • Dr. Stephen S. Daggett - Genetics and evolutionary biology of Zebrafish (Danio rerio).
  • Dr. Greg Fitch - Insect neurophysiology and behavior.
  • Dr. Karin Gastreich - Plant-animal interactions; animal behavior.
  • Dr. Robert Powell - Resource partitioning by lizards on Hispaniola; anything having to do with amphibians and reptiles

See individual web pages for more details.


"Although I knew I wanted a degree in Biology when I enrolled in college, my experiences and the personal relationships formed with the faculty at Avila were instrumental in driving my ultimate career trajectory. Since graduating with my B.S.in Biology, I went on to earn my PhD and am now an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Those who were once mentors at Avila are now close friends and colleagues.

Matthew E. Gifford '99



Honors Research

The Biology Honors Program is designed to identify and promote individual accomplishment through directed independent research. Biology majors with a minimum overall GPA of 3.3 and a minimum GPA in biology of 3.1 may receive a formal invitation from the Biology Department to apply in the spring of their sophomore year or the fall of their junior year.

The honors candidate should do the following:

1. Reach agreement with a faculty mentor and begin planning a research protocol no later than the fall semester of the junior year.

2. Register for 1 credit of Research I (BI 493) no later than the spring semester of the junior year.

3. Prepare an application to the Honors Program, including a research proposal, to be submitted to the mentor during the spring semester. This proposal is evaluated by a screening committee prior to the semester's completion.  The proposal shall include:

a) the student's transcript;

b) a tentative curriculum schedule for the remainder of the student's undergraduate program;

c) the main body of the proposal should include:

     i) an abstract of the proposal;                                                      

     ii) justification and rationale for the research;       

    iii) a literature review;                                                                    

     iv) a detailed description of the proposed research;

     v) a research timetable.

Copies of the proposal will be distributed to all members of the department and student's mentor will call a meeting within one week of receipt. The department will evaluate the proposal and vote on the student's candidacy.

4. Approved students shall enroll in BI 493 Biology Laboratory Research no later than the fall of the senior year (up to 6 credits) and BI 499 Research Colloquium and Seminar in the spring of the senior year.

5. When the research is completed, students shall write and submit a thesis. The thesis format shall be specified during the BI 493 course. It will be due at the beginning of the 10th week of the spring semester of the senior year.

6. Students will present their research in oral form to the science faculty and students at the end of spring semester of the senior year (or when BI 499 is completed). A poster presentation may be given at Avila's Student Scholar Day during that semester.

7. If all criteria are met, an honors candidate will be awarded honors at Honors Convocation and the award will be announced at Commencement. All honors candidates are strongly encouraged to present their findings at a scientific meeting.

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