BIOB98 and BIOB99 – Supervised Introductory Research in Biology Frequently Asked Questions

No. Your continuing research in a lab is entirely up to both you and your supervisor. While completing a B98 or B99 does not guarantee you a spot in a C or D-level research course, it can be your chance to formulate a compelling independent research project and convince your supervisor that you are a talented, hard-working student deserving of that opportunity!

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You must be in good standing in your program of study. However, there are no other specific GPA requirements. Your prospective supervisor must sign each page of your transcript as part of the enrollment process. This is so that your supervisor and you are both explicitly aware of your academic record and current academic obligations (in other words, making sure there will not be scheduling conflicts that will prevent you from completing the assigned work).

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It is entirely up to you and your potential supervisor to decide on an exact schedule (or to commit to more hours than this). We want to provide flexibility with respect to scheduling because we know that not every research project works in the same way. For example, it may make sense for you to work in the lab for 6 hours each week for 12 weeks (= 72 hours total) if you are working in a molecular biology lab where samples can be prepared at virtually any time, day or night, or if your research project involves literature searches or computer analysis. Alternatively, it may make sense for you to put in 8 hours of work per day for 9 days on your project if your project involves a concentrated period of data collection on, for example, plants in the wild.

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There is a minimum time commitment of 72 hours over a given term to complete a BIOB98 or BIOB99 course. It is entirely up to you and your potential supervisor to decide on an exact schedule (or to commit to more hours than this).

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There is no easy answer to this question. Opportunities for undergrad involvement in research change so rapidly in each lab that we can’t keep up. Some faculty advertise openings for students here. Others post listings on the Career Learning Network site. Others may not advertise publicly at all. So, it’s up to you, the student, to seek out the chance to participate in research.
Don’t get frustrated. Biology Department faculty members (potential supervisors) are approached by many more undergrads than they can possibly supervise. Thus, Biology Department faculty members must decline to offer to supervise some students every term. Generally, faculty members are highly motivated to work with promising young undergraduate researchers, but you should not believe that you are guaranteed the chance to work directly with one.
The easiest way to begin your search for a potential faculty member is to scan the Biology Department faculty webpages to see which faculty member’s research interests appeal most to you. It’s best to identify several possible choices since any one may or may not have available spots in their lab. If you know any of the grad students in their lab (perhaps you’ve had them as a TA), speak with them. Perhaps they know of someone who would appreciate research help. Once you have done this, you should contact the faculty member to express your interest and/or ask for a chance to talk more. (A bit of advice: Make sure your e-mail correspondence reflects your particular interest in participating in research in THAT faculty member’s lab. Faculty members often disregard blanket or broadcast e-mails from students.)
If you’re already volunteering as a research assistant it may be simple to enroll in a B98/B99. Just talk with your supervisor.

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Step 1: You must identify and secure the agreement of a Biology department faculty member to act as your project supervisor. Without this agreement from a potential supervisor, you cannot enrol in the course.

Step 2: Have you completed Step 1?

No. Go back and complete Step 1.

Yes? Read on.

Step 3: After securing your potential supervisor, you must obtain the packet of enrollment materials from Fahda Kulmiye in SW421E or from here. Complete this packet with help from your supervisor. You and your potential supervisor must sign the forms. In addition, your potential supervisor must sign each page of your printed transcript.

Note: Students working in a lab, or doing field research must complete WHMIS & Lab Safety Training. Students working with animals must undergo animal care training. Students working with biohazards must undergo biosafety training. Your faculty supervisor can assist you with enrollment in the proper training session(s).

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The course is offered strictly with a credit/no credit grading scheme. No letter or percentage grades are given. Your satisfactory completion of the course (for a “credit” grade) is assessed by your supervisor. In the paperwork you must hand in to enroll in the course, you and your supervisor must briefly describe how your supervisor will assess your work. This, then, forms the basis for your evaluation. Generally, you will be graded on the effort and quality of work you put in to the project you are working on. You will not be penalized if the experiment you participate in produces unexpected or undesired results (or poor quality data) PROVIDED that you executed your duties in collecting data correctly and with all due effort and diligence.

Note: Credit from a BIOB98 or BIOB99 course does not count towards the credit hours needed for completion of your degree program. For example, taking BIOB98 or BIOB99 does not provide any credit to satisfy the requirement that you must complete 1.0 credit hours of Biology Core Labs (or any other program component). It does, however, count towards the overall number of credit hours you must have to graduate (separate from the specific program requirements).

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BIOB99 is simply the course code used for a student that enrolls in the supervised introductory research experience course for a second term. You must have satisfactorily completed BIOB98 before you are eligible to take BIOB99. You cannot take either BIOB98 or BIOB99 for a third (overall) term.

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BIOB98 is a supervised introductory research experience course. The course is open to any UTSC undergrads enrolled in a Biological Sciences program of study that have completed 4.0 or more credits towards their degree. This generally means that second year students (and above) are eligible to take BIOB98. The exact nature of the work the student will do as part of their BIOB98 coursework varies greatly depending on the type of research conducted and the project envisioned by the student and their supervisor.

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