CaSB is a research-oriented Major, and all students participate in research supervised by a UCLA ladder faculty member. Students are expected to find their own research project and complete research for their senior thesis as part of the Capstone courses.

Expectations for Capstone Research Projects and Deliverables

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.

Presentation – The presentation should consist of approximately 10 slides that cover the following topics: Title, Background, Question that is being addressed by the research, Methods, Results, Conclusions, Future Directions, Acknowledgements. The presentation should be presented at the lab meeting of your host lab and recorded or in the C&S BIO M187 class. The presentation can be done in person or remotely via video-conferencing. The recording should be filed with the CaSB Undergraduate Office.

Poster – The poster should be printed on a large (48”x 36”) sheet. The Poster should contain a title, authors, abstract, figures of all results, conclusions, and references. A PowerPoint template will be provided in C&S BIO M187.

Research Thesis – The research thesis should follow standard guidelines for a scientific publication. The paper should be at least 10 pages single-spaced. It should include the following sections: Title, Authors, Affiliation, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusions, Acknowledgements, and References. The references should follow the guidelines of a journal that is relevant to the research topic and there should be at least 10 references.  The paper should also include at least four figures. Each of figure can contain multiple panels and should include a caption. Figures should be embedded within the text of the thesis rather than added to the end of the report. The final report should be submitted in PDF format.

Students will complete the above deliverables as part of their Capstone Courses.

Research Quarters and Capstone Courses

For those admitted to the major Fall 2020 and forward, students are required to complete at least two quarters of research supervised by a UCLA ladder faculty member while taking the Capstone courses (more info on the Capstone courses can be found here), but are strongly encouraged to complete additional research and start their research projects early. CaSB still recommends that students complete approximately a year (or more, if desired) of research to provide sufficient material for their senior thesis. Students pursuing additional quarters of research may choose to enroll in additional quarters of C&S BIO 199 to earn upper division units for their research, but this is not required.

**Students who were admitted to the CaSB major (not pre-major) prior to Fall 2020 are expected to complete approximately a year of research by the time they have completed C&S BIO M187 (i.e., Fall-Spring of the year in which they take M187). These students are not held to the new Capstone requirements and are not required to complete 4 units of C&S BIO 199 prior to M187.

Finding Research

Students are responsible for finding their own research project for the purpose of the Capstone. Most students find research by directly emailing faculty members and asking about opportunities. The Undergraduate Research Center has a checklist on how to identify and contact faculty members, which students can find here. Many students use the CaSB Affiliated Faculty List to identify professors with similar research interests. Students can also look at the faculty lists of other departments that align with their interests and see if any of those professors are doing computational biology research.

There are also portals and pages where research opportunities are posted, including the Undergraduate Research Center Portal and the Bioinformatics Graduate Program’s Undergraduate Research page.

If students identify a research project and have any concerns about whether the research would be appropriate for the senior thesis, students are encouraged to write a brief project description (about half a page to a page) outlining the research question(s) and planned research activities and submit it to casb@lifesci.ucla.edu to have it reviewed by the CaSB faculty.