Capstone Option 2: C&S BIO 198A & 198B is designed for students completing research in a UCLA faculty member’s lab who need more flexibility with the timing of their Capstone courses or want to complete their thesis more independently. 

About Capstone Option 2

Required Courses: C&S BIO 198A (4 Units) AND C&S BIO 198B (4 Units)

For Option 2, students will engage in directed honors research with a UCLA faculty member while taking C&S BIO 198A and C&S BIO 198B, each for 4 units. Students will be expected to complete the same deliverables as those taking M187: a senior thesis paper, poster, and presentation. At the end of C&S BIO 198A, students will be required to submit tangible evidence of the work completed (i.e., a preliminary/partial draft of their thesis paper), as specified in the 198A contract, to the supervising faculty mentor.

In C&S BIO 198B, students will complete the three deliverables described here with feedback from their supervising faculty mentor and submit them to the faculty mentor and the department. Grades will be assigned by the faculty mentor. A grade will not be assigned for 198A until a student completes 198B (the grade will show as in progress). Students must complete both classes to receive a grade for either course.

Planning for Capstone Option 2 Courses

C&S BIO 198A and 198B should be taken in sequence. A grade for C&S BIO 198A will not be assigned until 198B is completed. Since these are individual contract courses, they can be taken any quarter, but it is recommended that students complete them during their 4th year.

Research Expectations for Capstone Option 2

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 pursuing Option 2 complete their Capstone deliverables more independently than those who take Capstone Options 1 or 3, so it is recommended that students in Option 2 have a strong relationship with their faculty mentor.

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 via Message Center.

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 2 Courses

C&S BIO 198A, and 198B are contract courses. 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 (for 198A this is a partial thesis draft, for 198B it is the three final Capstone deliverables). 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 Department Counselor will obtain the second required signature from the CaSB Chair. More info about contract courses can be found here.

Sample Syllabi and Resources

C&S BIO 198A Syllabus C&S BIO 198B Syllabus Expectations for PIs Supervising Capstone Research Research Compact