Senior Capstone/Thesis

Preston Buttery

The Senior Capstone in Chemistry and Biochemistry is required for the Bachelor of Science degree, and is designed to provide the student with laboratory research experience. Participation in research helps in choosing careers, develops mentoring relationships with faculty and other members of research groups, and is the best way to learn science. Students in the Honors College can use the senior capstone thesis toward both the Chemistry and Biochemistry degree and for the required Honors Thesis. A minimum of two semesters of laboratory work (including a minimum of 6 units total of CHEM/BIOC 498(h) credit is required, which begins during a student’s penultimate semester. It is usually comprised of focused research work, followed by a semester of writing a thesis. Students who choose not to complete the Senior Capstone in Biochemistry can still obtain a degree in Biochemistry, however they must switch to a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry (talk to your academic advisor).



1. Work with the faculty research advisor to write a Senior Capstone/Thesis Prospectus to include with the CBC Capstone Thesis. Only general faculty are available to be research faculty advisors, not post-docs, graduate or undergraduate students. However they can be listed as supervisors on the thesis form.

  1. a statement of the problem
  2. background information
  3. methods to be used
  4. expected outcomes
  5. references

2. Biochemistry and Chemistry students will be enrolled for credit by Olivia Mendoza, Undergraduate Senior Program Coordinator, after obtaining signatures from the research faculty mentor and your faculty advisor.

Note: Biochemistry majors wanting to work in laboratories of faculty outside of Chemistry & Biochemistry must obtain permission from the department, contact Olivia Mendoza at The process of obtaining approval of the Senior Capstone/Thesis must be completed prior to the start of the first semester of research. This would normally be in the spring semester of the junior year.

It is the policy of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry that students enrolled in an Individual course such as Senior Thesis/Capstone, Directed Research, Independent Student and Preceptor units cannot be paid for the same hours as lab work. Therefore, academic credit can be awarded only for faculty-approved academic work as defined by department policy, whereas, paid laboratory work must follow university or programmatic policies for student employment.

3. There are no exams for CHEM/BIOC498(H). At the end of your first semester, your research mentor will assign you a grade based on the agreed upon criteria in the registration form. After one semester of research, students must submit a revised Prospectus to their Biochemistry Faculty Advisor.

4. Before your second semester of Capstone/Thesis begins, touch base with your research mentor to clarify what you should be focusing on for this final semester. It is expected that the research faculty mentor will work with the student as the student prepares and writes the thesis.

5. At the start of your second semester, complete and submit the Registration Form for Capstone/Thesis (the most current form is available on the Undergraduate Studies Forms page) – Second Semester. Use the form to help you plan out your writing tasks for this semester. Writing should be an ongoing process during the second semester, so that there is ample time to work on the thesis drafts with input from the research faculty mentor.

6. At least 2 weeks prior to the completion of classes for the second semester, the student must submit a thesis in scientific paper format for approval by the research mentor and by the Biochemistry faculty advisor. The Capstone/Thesis is not only the documentation of your research project, but also a scientific writing assignment. Before submission of the senior Capstone/Thesis, the research faculty mentor must sign the title page (with date), signifying approval of the thesis for both scientific content, scope of the Capstone/Thesis, and writing style. The student should then bring the Capstone/Thesis to their assigned BIOC faculty advisor for their approval and signature. The BIOC faculty advisor will only approve the thesis after they have read the document. Once approved by the BIOC faculty advisor the thesis is turned in to the senior program coordinator in the CBC Advising office by email at

7. Students graduating in the spring and summer semesters are required to present a poster in spring, of their senior Capstone/Thesis (includes Honors Thesis) at the Annual CBC Poster Fair Contest, a special presentation for undergraduate research and senior thesis presentations sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  Fall Graduates are required to present at a fall poster fair, unless specified.

8. At the end of the semester, honors students must submit their Senior Honors Thesis to the Honors College by the last day of classes. The deadline to submit your thesis is usually one week before finals. Research advisors/mentors will assign grades after the completed Capstone/Thesis is submitted.

If Interested in This Program, Contact:

Olivia Mendoza
Phone: (520) 621-3868