Many undergraduate students in the Integrative Biology major carry out undergraduate research. To provide recognition of senior students in the Integrative Biology major who have demonstrated excellence in research while maintaining overall academic excellence, the School of Integrative Biology awards graduation honors of "Distinction for Excellence in Research" in three categories based on quality of research: DistinctionHigh Distinction, and Highest DistinctionThe level of Distinction will be determined by the SIB Distinction Committee based on the written thesis, the oral or poster presentation, and the Advisor’s evaluation. The final transcript and diploma note if a student earned distinction and at what level.

Please be aware of the following deadlines for those students graduating in August 2024:

11:00 AM, Friday, July 12, 2024 - Application Form must be submitted.

 Wednesday, March 6, 2024- Submit the first draft of your research paper or poster to your faculty research advisor.

11:00 AM, Thursday, Mar. 21, 2024​​​​​​ - Final paper must be submitted and advisor must complete the Evaluation Form.  

11:00 AM Wednesday April 10, 2024 - Submit your presentation material for the Distinction Symposium 

12pm-5:30pm Friday, April 12, 2024 - Spring Distinction Symposium. 

Use the Application Form for applying to graduate with Excellence in Research in Integrative Biology. When you have completed your research for distinction, your research advisor must also complete the Evaluation Form. This form will be reviewed by the Distinction committee. 

How to Get Involved in Undergraduate Research for Distinction Consideration

Since good research requires intensive effort, you should plan to get started as soon as you can. Past experience indicates that one-semester projects rarely succeed in producing substantial results. Two-semester projects may succeed, but three-to-four semester projects are more likely to be successful.

First, decide what your area of interest is, then talk to potential faculty advisors in that area to arrange a research project. Individual departments have more detailed information about faculty research interests. Suggestions for how to get involved in research are available on the SIB Undergraduate Research page. When you have found an advisor and the two of you have agreed on a project, the professor will have you enroll under an independent study rubric (IB 390 or IB 490, with the latter course letter graded). You must be signed up for IB 490 prior to or during the semester you intend to graduate.

If you wish to pursue a research project in the laboratory of a professor at Illinois who is not affiliated with an IB department, you must obtain approval from the School’s Associate Director for Academic Affairs before you start your project and you must arrange an "advisor-of-note" in an IB department before you begin your research. Details on how to arrange this are presented on the Undergraduate Research webpage under Working with Non-SIB Faculty and Other Researchers.

Please do not wait until your research is underway or you’re in your last semester if you are conducting research with a non-SIB faculty member, otherwise you may not be eligible for distinction.

Questions may be directed to: sib@life.illinois.edu. 

Requirements for Distinction

Distinction for Excellence in Research

To be eligible for graduation with Distinction for Excellence in Research a student must:

  • Be enrolled as a major in: Integrative Biology, Integrative Biology Honors, or IPS in Entomology.
  • EITHER:
    • Complete two or more semesters of IB 390/IB 490 for 2-credit hours or more each semester. The student should enroll in IB 490 the semester the student intends to graduate, which counts towards the two required semesters.
    • OR: Complete at least 180 hours of mentored research. The research experience must last a minimum of 20 weeks (the weeks need not be consecutive and summer research counts toward this total) and students should enroll in one semester of IB 490 for a minimum of 1-credit hour prior to or during the semester they intend to graduate. Example: a student could be eligible if they complete a 10-week summer research experience combined with enrolling in IB 490 the semester they intend to graduate.
  • Maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA within the major at the end of the penultimate semester.
  • Give a poster presentation at the SIB Distinction Symposium.
    • Posters are due to the committee on the day of the symposium.
    • If a student has a conflict with the symposium, they may request approval from the SIB Distinction Committee to alternatively give a poster presentation at the campus-wide Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS). Students will also need to send a video/Zoom recording of their presentation to the SIB Distinction Committee.
    • Due to printing time constraints, students selecting the URS option may not be listed in the printed SIB Convocation program with honors but still will be announced as such.
  • Have a completed distinction Evaluation Form submitted by their Faculty Research Advisor.
  • Distinction will be determined by the SIB Distinction Committee based on the poster presentation and the Advisor’s evaluation.
  • Substitutions or other changes to these requirements may be made only via petition to and approval by the Chair of the SIB Distinction Committee and the SIB Associate Director for Academic Affairs.

High or Highest Distinction for Excellence in Research

To be eligible for graduation with High or Highest Distinction for Excellence in Research a student must:

  • Be enrolled as a major in: Integrative Biology, Integrative Biology Honors, or IPS in Entomology.
  • EITHER:
    • Complete two or more semesters of IB 390/IB 490 for 2-credit hours or more each semester. The student should enroll in IB 490 the semester the student intends to graduate, which counts towards the two required semesters.
    • OR: Complete at least 180 hours of mentored research. The research experience must last a minimum of 20 weeks (the weeks need not be consecutive and summer research counts toward this total) and students should enroll in one semester of IB 490 for a minimum of 1-credit hour prior to or during the semester they intend to graduate. Example: a student could be eligible if they complete a 10-week summer research experience combined with enrolling in IB 490 the semester they intend to graduate.
  • Maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA within the major at the end of the penultimate semester.
  • Submit a written thesis and give an oral presentation at the SIB Distinction Symposium.
    • If a student has a conflict with the symposium, they may request approval from the SIB Distinction Committee to alternatively give an oral presentation at the campus-wide Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS). Students will also need to send a video/Zoom recording of their presentation to the SIB Distinction Committee.
    • Due to printing time constraints, students selecting the URS option may not be listed in the printed SIB Convocation program with honors but still will be announced as such.
  • Have a completed distinction Evaluation Form submitted by their Faculty Research Advisor.
  • The level of Distinction will be determined by the SIB Distinction Committee based on the written thesis, the oral presentation, and the Advisor’s evaluation. Note the submission of a thesis does not guarantee higher levels of distinction.
  • Substitutions or other changes to these requirements may be made only via petition to and approval by the Chair of the SIB Distinction Committee and the SIB Associate Director for Academic Affairs.

Submission Dates

May 2025 Requirements and Deadlines

11:00 AM, Friday, Feb. 14, 2024 Submit the Application FormThis information is needed by the Distinction Committee to determine the number and disciplinary distribution of papers and posters to be reviewed.
Wednesday, March 5, 2025 Submit the first draft of your research paper or poster to your faculty research advisor.
11:00 AM, Thursday, Mar. 20, 2025 Submit final paper as a PDF file to sib@life.illinois.edu. Alternatively, if student is not on track to finish final paper, they may switch to a poster presentation by this date. Note switching to a poster will mean the student is only eligible to be considered for standard distinction (i.e., not high/highest distinction).
11:00 AM, Thursday, Mar. 20, 2025 Advisor must complete the Evaluation Form.
11:00 AM TBD

Submit your presentation material for the Distinction Symposium

 (Items must be submitted on time to be considered) 

12pm-5:30pm TBD Spring Distinction Symposium: give a 5-minute poster or 12-minute oral presentation of your research. If the poster or paper will be presented elsewhere, the venue must be approved by SIB’s Distinction Committee or the School's Associate Director for Academic Affairs beforehand. Due to printing time constraints, students selecting the URS option may not be listed in the printed SIB Convocation program with honors but still will be announced as such.

 

August 2024 Requirements and Deadlines

11:00 AM, Friday, July 12, 2024 Submit the Application Form. This information is needed by the Distinction Committee to determine the number and disciplinary distribution of papers and posters to be reviewed.
11:00 AM, Friday, July 12, 2024 Submit final paper as a PDF file to sib@life.illinois.edu and one hard copy to 286 Morrill Hall.
11:00 AM, Friday, July 12, 2024 Advisor must complete the Evaluation Form.

 

December 2024 Requirements and Deadlines

11:00 AM, Monday, Oct. 28, 2024

Submit the Application Form. This information is needed by the Distinction Committee to determine the number and disciplinary distribution of papers and posters to be reviewed.
11:00 AM, Friday, Nov. 18, 2024, If you wish to be considered for High or Highest Distinction for Excellence in Research, submit the final paper as a PDF file to sib@life.illinois.edu and one hard copy to 286 Morrill Hall.
11:00 AM, Friday, Nov. 14, 2024

Advisor must complete the Evaluation Form.

12pm-2pm, Wed. Dec 4, 2024

Fall Spring Distinction Symposium: give a 5-minute poster or 12-minute oral presentation of your research. If the poster or paper will be presented elsewhere, the venue must be approved by SIB’s Distinction Committee or the School's Associate Director for Academic Affairs beforehand.

Distinction Research Resources

The Research Project

The research project must consist of original research, which should attempt to answer a specific scientific question. Simply learning to master a technique is not sufficient. As research often involves unanticipated technical problems, you should be prepared to accept delay and frustration when things do not go smoothly. Your best approach to your project is to have a clear understanding of the questions you are asking and why you are asking those particular questions. This understanding is aided by a familiarity with the literature in your area before you start work.

The Research Paper

The research paper should be a formal report of your results, and therefore should follow accepted professional standards for such reports. Consider Refer to the Guidelines for Writing a Scientific Manuscript on the SIB Undergraduate Research website for more information and examples.

Model your paper after papers published in the major research journals in your field. Ordinarily, such papers contain an abstract, introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion, and references sections. Be sure to label and caption Tables and Figures. You must fully credit any data, analyses, illustrations, etc., that are produced/obtained by, or through collaboration with, other individuals. This credit must include the names of those with whom you collaborated and an explanation of the nature of their assistance and/or collaboration. Failure to give proper credit may disqualify you from consideration for graduation with distinction.

You should recognize that communication of your results is the final step in scientific research. Therefore, your paper should be as clear as you can make it. Do not get bogged down in detail. (Twenty double-spaced typewritten pages, excluding references, tables and figures, is the maximum acceptable length. About 10-15 pages double-spaced should do in most cases.)

A well-written, concise paper should be understandable to researchers in allied fields as well as to specialists in your own field. Complex figures, color illustrations or other materials that do not photocopy well must be reproduced clearly in each copy. Note: the submission of a thesis does not guarantee higher levels of distinction.

The Research Poster

A scientific poster is a visual representation of data that have been organized and consolidated into an easily digestible format. Your poster should be logical, consistent and designed well. Many websites are available on how to make an effective scientific poster, including those provided by the University of Illinois:

Evaluation Process

Procedure

Your poster or oral presentation at the SIB Distinction Symposium or the University’s Undergraduate Research Symposium will be attended by the SIB Distinction Committee, which consists of 3-4 SIB faculty members. They will be evaluating the extent to which you understand the context of your project and interpretation of your results. If considered for High or Highest Distinction, your research paper will also be read and evaluated by members of the SIB Distinction Committee. Committee members may ask other faculty for additional evaluation of papers that fall outside their range of expertise. Remember that committee members will consider clarity of expression as they read your paper. In addition, the committee members will also take into account the Evaluation Form completed and submitted by your faculty research advisor.

The Evaluation Criteria (found in the menu below) include whether the student has made a substantial investment of time and effort on the project, and whether the student gained a substantive research experience, achieved an in-depth understanding of the research, and greatly advanced his/her ability in scientific thought, conducting of research, and production of a high quality poster or scientific manuscript. A secondary consideration in deciding the level of distinction will be the quality of the presentation, particularly a demonstration of a sound understanding of the science of their project. The Committee will decide which projects, if any, are worthy of Distinction, High Distinction, or Highest Distinction for Excellence in Research.

Evaluation Criteria

Overall criteria: A substantive research experience; the student has achieved an in-depth understanding of the area of study; and greatly advanced their ability in scientific thought, conducting research, and production of a high quality scientific poster or manuscript.

 

Benchmark Distinction High Distinction Highest Distinction
Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) 3.25 3.25 3.25

Student Involvement

  • Initial formulation of project
  • Extended scope/depth of original plan
  • Formulating testing/improving experimental design
  • Gathering data
  • Data analysis
  • Interpretation of data
  • Reading/understanding primary literature
  • Preparation of manuscript/poster
  • At least some
  • At least some
  • At least some
  • Yes; may also use supplemental data from lab
  • Basic statistics are sufficient
  • Yes; with aid from mentor
  • Yes 
  • Independent first draft; revision based on input from mentor
All aspects, with moderate-to-high level of independence. All aspects, with highest level of independence
Results Obtained Results may be modest or even unsuccessful, but methods and analysis must be sound Some novel information; methods and analysis sound Significant new conclusions; well supported by data
Overall Effort Good faith effort; respectable study that clearly documents significant effort in generating data, and preparing a scientific poster A significant undergraduate research experience generating results of publication quality (even if manuscript is not) Final manuscript is equivalent to manuscript for submission to journal for publication.

 

NOTES: Originality by the student may not be possible for expensive projects (e.g., molecular-based research). The poster or oral presentation, particularly demonstration of understanding of the science, will serve as a secondary consideration in deciding the level of distinction.

Appeals

Students may request an appeal from SIB’s Distinction Committee if an extenuating circumstance has prevented them from meeting the criteria for distinction outlined above. If a student does not want to disclose personal or sensitive information for the appeal, the committee will accept a letter from the Office of the Dean of Students on the student’s behalf.