Capstone Option 1: C&S BIO 199 & M187 is designed for students completing research in a UCLA faculty member’s lab. This is the most common option pursued by students to satisfy the Capstone coursework.

About Capstone Option 1

Required Courses: C&S BIO 199 (4 Units) AND C&S BIO M187 (4 Units)

In Option 1, students will engage in supervised research with a UCLA faculty member while taking 4 units of C&S BIO 199, a directed research course. At the completion of C&S BIO 199, the supervising faculty mentor, also known as the Primary Investigator (PI), will assign a grade based on students’ work in the lab and a culminating paper or project providing evidence of work completed, as outlined in the 199 contract.

Students will then complete C&S BIO M187, a research communications class that teaches students to communicate research results both orally and in writing through in-class presentations and completion of the senior research thesis. In this class, students will complete the three deliverables for the Capstone project as described here. The final grade for M187 will be assigned by the professor of the class, in consultation with students’ senior research advisor, based on the deliverables completed.

Planning for Capstone Option 1 Courses

For Option 1, C&S BIO M187 is typically offered in Spring quarter (subject to change). Most students will take this course in Spring of their 4th year. Prior to taking C&S BIO M187, students must take at least one quarter of C&S BIO 199. It is recommended that students plan for this course in Winter quarter of their 4th year, immediately before C&S BIO M187, but other quarters are possible. While students are not required to take a second C&S BIO 199 course while enrolled in M187, they are expected to continue their research during the quarter in which they take M187.

Research Expectations for Capstone Option 1

Students are expected to find their own research project prior to starting the Capstone courses. Students are required to complete, at minimum, two quarters of research supervised by a UCLA ladder faculty member while they are enrolled in the Capstone courses. Students are advised, however, to start early, ideally finding a project in their junior year. Some research labs will not accept senior students due to the amount of time it takes to train and onboard a new student into the lab. Therefore, starting in the junior year is recommended.

Students may take additional quarters of C&S BIO 199 to get credit for their research, but this is not required.

For the Capstone research, students will want to find a ladder faculty member (rank of assistant professor, associate professor, professor—not an adjunct or lecturer) who will agree to supervise their thesis. A faculty member who has “In Residence” listed after their professorial rank is fine (e.g., Associate Professor In Residence). Students can check faculty member titles via the UCLA Directory. If students are unsure if the Primary Investigator (PI) they hope to work with is a ladder faculty member, please send questions to casb@lifesci.ucla.edu.

The goal is to find some part of a project for which the student can be the lead person that creates a coherent and contained research story, even if it is contributing to a larger goal or project by the faculty member/PI (usually it is). The individual part (i.e. student contribution) should involve some aspect of math modeling, computational simulation, or data analysis, so that there is a quantitative/mathematical/computational piece. The research should also be connected to a biological question. In the end, students should look for a project for which they can explain and justify a goal, then communicate what they did to achieve said goal. For the purposes of the Capstone classes, the research needs to be enough for a coherent story: a 10-minute presentation, a poster, and an approximately 10 pages or longer paper.

Students are encouraged to fill out a Research Compact to outline goals and expectations for the project. Students should also provide their faculty mentor with a copy of Expectations for PIs Supervising CaSB Capstone Research Projects document.

Enrolling in the Capstone Option 1 Courses

C&S BIO 199 is a contract course. Enrollment requires the creation of a contract between the student and the professor who will be supervising the research. The contract outlines the research project that the student will be working on and describes what tangible evidence the student will provide at the end of the quarter as evidence of work completed (this is normally in the form of a final paper or project). Contracts are generated via MyUCLA (go to the “Academics” tab and then “Contract Courses”). Students must fill out the contract and obtain their professor’s/PI’s signature. The contract should then be emailed to the CaSB Undergraduate Office no later than Wednesday of Week 2 of the quarter. The CaSB Departmental Counselor will obtain the second required signature from the CaSB Chair. More info about contract courses can be found here.

C&S BIO M187 enrollment will be via MyUCLA during regular enrollment passes.

Students following Capstone Option 1 who are interested in substituting another department’s 199 course for C&S BIO 199 should submit a course substitution petition. Petition forms and policies can be found here.

Sample Syllabi and Resources

C&S BIO 199 Syllabus Expectations for PIs Supervising Capstone Research Research Compact